At the end of my Lexus NX 300h review last year, I said this,
“You’re better off sticking with the regular NX 200t and having that extra $5,000 going towards some options.”
Recently, I had the chance to put part of that ending line to the test as a 2016 Lexus NX 200t F-Sport came in for week’s evaluation.
The NX F-Sport follows the formula of other F-Sport models with a more aggressive look. Up front is a new mesh grille insert and a lower air dam to give it some aggression. Lexus has also fitted a set of 18-inch wheels to fill in the wheel wells. I have complained previously about how the F-Sport package looks ridiculous on the RX. But the on the NX, the exterior changes of the F-Sport package work.
Lexus used the new NX to introduce their first turbo engine; a 2.0L turbo-four with 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. Our tester came with all-wheel drive. Despite what numbers say, the turbo 2.0L doesn’t feel that fast. From a stop, the engine doesn’t have the immediate rush of power that the current crop of turbo engines. You have to wait till the engine goes above 2,000 rpm before the rush happens. Not helping matters is the six-speed automatic that prioritizes fuel economy over performance. The transmission is quick to upshift, but seems somewhat hesitant to downshift when it comes to making a pass. This powertrain needed more time in the engineering department to make it a strong point, not a weak link.
Aside from the exterior bits, the F-Sport package for the NX also includes a sport-tuned suspension. It does make some difference in the corners as body motions are kept in check and the vehicle changes direction very well. Disappointingly, the steering still feels rubbery. Being an F-Sport, you would think Lexus would make some improvements to steering to make it feel more natural. As for the daily grind, the F-Sport suspension will let in a few more bumps into the cabin. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels.
Considering what I know now, I’m not sure that I would recommend the NX 200t. It is a better value than the hybrid and it still retains a number of items that I liked - distinctive design and well-appointed interior. But the turbo engine sours the experience as it suffers from a bad case of turbo lag. As for the F-Sport package, it sharpens up the exterior and does make the NX slightly more capable around corners. The steering needs a bit more work.
If Lexus can reduce the amount of turbo lag and improve the steering, then the NX might have a fighting chance. As it stands, you’re better off looking at the Germans or the Lincoln MKC.
Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the NX 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: 200t F-Sport
Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-iW Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,800 - 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650 - 4,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/27/24
Curb Weight: 4,050 lbs
Location of Manufacture:
Base Price: $38,365
As Tested Price: $46,440 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
Premium F-Sport Package - $2,045.00
Navigation Package - $1,875.00
LED Headlamps without Auto High Beams - $1,160.00
Pre-Collision System w/All-Speed Cruise Control - $900.00
Electrochromic (Auto-Dimming) Outer Mirrors with Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Tilt, Heated, Memory - $660.00
Qi-Compatible Wireless Charger - $220.00
Heated Perforated Leather-Trimmed Steering Wheel with Paddle Shifters - $150.00
Electrochromic (Auto-Dimming) Rear View Mirror with and Lexus Homelink Garage Door Opener - $125.00