VEHICLE TESTThe new version of the Lexus NX plug-in is certainly not a cheap car. It is quite expensive, but its excellent range of electronics and many sensible (safety) systems offers 450h + clear pluses.
Lexus NX 450h + (309 hp / 227 kW), from € 72,485
Just wait, the cyclist is coming! As long as the Lexus NX 450h + detectors detect traffic coming from behind, the car temporarily blocks you from getting out. The button on the door just doesn’t answer. Has the danger passed? Then you can leave the cabin.
This is one of the countless examples of systems in which this Lexus makes life a little safer. Will you drive? Pressing the camera button and NX lets you look around the car, making sure there are no pets or kids around. Smart and sensible.
The plus sign in the name indicates that this is a hybrid version of the plug-in, which provides something extra compared to the ‘normal’ plugins. In addition to the two electric motors and the gasoline power source, there is a large battery pack (18.1 kilowatt) and a charging port, so you can drive more electric. Lexus claims a 63-kilometer power line.
See prices and specifications here of all Lexus NX trim, collected by AutoWeek.
That turns out to be the best advice though, because for complete stability, the engine in a relatively quiet Lexus rumbles unsightly. It is temporary at low speeds, but the impact does not match the improved feeling that the car creates otherwise. Stable driving also provides clean test usage: depending on how often you charge, an average of 4 liters per 100 km (1 out of 25) is easily accessible.
Lexus has brought the NX to the forefront: high-tech (safety) systems, finishing and transport comfort are above average. This applies to a small amount of space, handling and affordability of this Lexus. Compared to the Audi Q5 or Mercedes-Benz GLC, it is cheaper (and you get a ten year warranty!), But the Toyota RAV4 is bigger, cheaper and at least better.
+ Smart security systems.
+ Low usage is possible.
+ Ten-year warranty.
– Space back.
– High purchase price.
– Power roar.
– Value added compared to Toyota.
This Lexus is a tough car, but its main rival could get out of the house. The best combination of RAV4 plug-ins from mother Toyota brand is the largest, most comprehensive and low-cost option with the corresponding comfort level. The added value of NX is mainly in finishing, material use and better security systems, but these also offer significant advantages in price.
Additional test tips
Lexus offers the new NX in three variants: in addition to the 450h +, there is also the option of two versions of the 350h, where h stands hybrid. The difference between the two versions is in the number of driven wheels: the cheaper version (from 60,390 euros) has only the front wheel drive, while the 4WD (from 65,890 euros) has a four-wheel drive. Both versions also use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine like 450 (which sells from 72,000 euros).
The lack of + in their selection indicates that some NXs do not have a plug. Lexus calls these ‘self-charging hybrids’, but that’s a very promising term. In these lighter modes, the electric motor helps to conserve energy in the battery pack (smaller), but you can drive electronically a little more at that energy than at 450h +. All versions have been approved for towing a sealed trailer of up to 1500 kg.
Thanks to the most powerful electric engine, the 450h + delivers much more power: instead of 244 horsepower (179 kilowatts), you have 309 hp (227 kW) at your disposal. Surprisingly enough, the more expensive version has less pulling power (227 meters Newton instead of 239), but in + is available for lower revs.
So, engines in theory have to work hard to help you move forward smoothly, and although NX is strong enough, it doesn’t always sound that way. As long as the car is powered by electricity, of course this is a moderate high-speed car – also thanks to excellent sound insulation – but once the fuel engine starts to work, peace is disturbed in an unpleasant way.
During acceleration, automatic CVT transmission (continuous variable transmission) selects the most efficient speed, which the powertrain maintains until you reach the desired speed. At the same time, the NX puts a big throat, and that sound is quite different from the silence in the car for others. The noise is temporary, but in those times you wish all this Lexus to be electronic.
In the interior – as well as the neat materials used and the quality of the neat build – it seems that Lexus has installed the NX with various smart systems that help the driver understand everything. You will find multifunctional buttons on the steering wheel, which can perform different functions depending on the menu you are sitting on. Because this can be confusing, the drive displays on the screen mounted on the front screen (head display) what function is associated with which button. As soon as you touch the button with your finger, it appears on the screen.
Additionally, the car controls are clear and well thought out: the screen on the dashboard is a touch screen, providing the normal operation of the Lexus (and a computer-like controller) field. That is a good option, because the screens and icons on it are large enough to get your way safely. It all also looks neat, although the Lexus system is very similar to Toyota’s parent company in terms of design and digital graphics. It would have been better if the Lexus had given it a more elegant ‘look and feel’. That corresponds to the extra price you pay for Lexus.
The Lexus NX is not a cheap car: its price is close to what you pay for a mid-size SUV from other luxury car brands. The starting price for the Audi Q5 50 TFSI-e is 69,952 euros, which is equivalent to NX 450h +. The tested version of the NX F-Sport costs at least 81,990 and that is close to the equivalent of 81,619 euros that you have to pay for Audi for Q5 in the Sportier S. Edition. However, Lexus is rich in details. For example, with F-Sport you do not have to pay for heated front and rear seats, electrically adjustable front seats are available and you have, for example, an electrically operated back gate.
In terms of security systems, Lexus does a good business: there are, among other things, an assisted route, but also flexible maritime control, blind spot detection, emergency brake system, eight airbags and traffic signs.
The main problem with Lexus NX is that Toyota’s parent company also manufactures very good cars. The Toyota RAV4, for example, may not look very sly and has an interior with a nice little speaker and a little hard material, but in reality the car does almost everything similar to its more expensive cousin. After all, the NX doesn’t have a very different car, not significantly quieter, more powerful or more comfortable and even gives you a bit of the same feeling as Toyota on the road.
This is due in part to the appearance and design of the interior and exterior – which clearly carries Toyota’s genes – but also in the quality of technology. And a RAV4 like that, which is also available as a plug-in hybrid, is already so good that Lexus doesn’t overdo it. The ‘real feeling of Lexus’ lies in very small details, such as the subtle method in which you open the doors with a button instead of the lever that you pull out. Even the manufacturer’s warranty (up to 10 years or less than 200,000 miles, if you have serviced it with an approved Lexus dealer) is comparable. So, although the Lexus NX is a very good car with many features, it is not the best or the best that can justify the added value – and the extra cost – compared to its cheap price relative to no fighting.
You will find all previously published experiments in our comprehensive Autotest file.
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