Lexus’ RX midsize crossover has been a huge success. It’s the best-selling luxury vehicle in the U.S. with sales surpassing the BMW 3 Series. With the RX having a base price of about $42,000, Lexus was looking to add a smaller, more affordable entry-level luxury crossover.
For the 2015 model year, the company has developed the all-new NX, a compact crossover offering with a release dated slated for November 2014. The NX will be offered with both front and all-wheel drive with an anticipated base price of about $37,000.
An All-New Model With An All-new Engine
The NX shares the same platform as the Toyota RAV4, but not the same engine. Lexus has put a powerful, all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine into the model, hence, the model is known as the NX 200t. The engine produces 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and expect a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds. It’s Lexus’ first turbo engine offered in its crossover lineup.
The NX has a distinctive appearance consistent with the Lexus SUV lineup, quite different than the RAV4. Some may consider the design polarizing but it does command attention. The NX’s interior is luxurious with the latest technological innovations.
Lexus put a lot of work into creating a model with a first-class ride and spirited handling. The NX has a wheelbase that is 3.2 inches shorter than the RX, and is 5.5 shorter in length, so you’re paying over $1,000 an inch for the RX over the base NX. The NX comes in different trim lines include the F-Sport and Hybrid models.
The NX 300h
The NX will also be offered as a hybrid with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. The NX 300h will be the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market for 2015 with anticipated fuel economy of 35-mpg city and 31-mpg highway. In comparison, the RX450h has fuel economy of 30-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.
The pricing on the NX300h is expected to be about $42,000, comparable to the base model RX.
The NX’s competitors include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, the new Mercedes-Benz GLA class, and Volvo XC60. All of these competitors offer engines with 300 horsepower or more.
While 235 horsepower in a compact SUV is ample power, the NX is not the powerhouse in its class. As a compact luxury crossover, the NX isn’t a hauler with a towing capacity of just 2,000 pounds.
The NX also has a six-speed automatic transmission with many of its competitors offering seven or eight-speed transmissions. This hampers the NX’s efficiency with anticipated fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. If fuel efficiency is a priority, the NX 300h is a clear choice.
With the success of its larger sibling and the NX’s attractive features and lower price, Lexus should have a hit on its hands. The NX also opens up the Lexus line to a younger demographic, which should boost sales and increase awareness.
To further expands its sales, Lexus may also consider bring a luxury version of a subcompact crossover to the market, which is a fast growing SUV segment.