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The big thing for luxury automakers for the past ten to fifteen years has been the crossover. First was the midsize crossover. Then came the full-size. Now the latest craze is compact crossovers. Many luxury automakers have been introducing them within the past few years as a way to draw buyers in. The latest one is Lexus with the NX crossover. This small luxury crossover hopes to carve a nice slice of a growing market. We recently spent a week with the NX 300h to see if it has a chance of pulling this off.

 

The NX’s overall shape looks to be a smaller version of the last-generation RX crossover mixed with some elements of Lexus’ L-Finesse design language. The front end boasts Lexus’ spindle grille paired with slim headlights. The side profile boasts a fair amount of sculpting on the fenders and on the lower door panels. Seventeen-inch wheels come standard, while our tester came equipped with the optional eighteen-inch wheels. Overall, the NX seems to work with the current design language without looking like a complete mess.

 


2015 Lexus NX 300h AWD 12


For the NX’s interior, Lexus made sure there was a fair amount of luxury appointments throughout. There is a fair amount of leather used on the dash, door panels, and center console. Many surfaces also feature stitching to increase the premium feeling. The front seats provided an excellent level of comfort thanks to the power adjustments and amount of padding used. Rear seat passengers will find a decent of legroom, but headroom is slightly tight.

 

Where the NX falls flat is in cargo space. The NX 300h only offers 16.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 53.7 cubic feet with the seats down. Now some this can be attributed to the batteries used on the hybrid version. But the standard NX isn’t that much bigger (17.7 and 54.6 cubic feet respectively), mostly due to the sloping roofline.

 

Like the RC 350 coupe we drove earlier, the NX 300h features the latest iteration of Lexus Remote Touch which swaps the joystick controller for a touchpad. We found the touchpad to be noticeably better than the joystick with moving around and choosing various functions. But we still had some issues with a slight delay of the cursor moving after moving our finger across the pad. We hope Lexus addresses this in a future update for the infotainment system.

 

The NX 300h uses the same hybrid powertrain as seen on the ES 300h, a 2.5L inline-four paired with an electric motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output stands at 194 horsepower. This comes paired to a CVT to either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive models get an additional electric motor on the rear axle to provide the added traction. Lethargic is the best word to describe the NX 300h’s ability to get up to speed. The powertrain seems unwilling to get up to speed at a rate that would satisfy most drivers. You’ll end up having your foot almost planted to the floor to get the powertrain to move the vehicle at a somewhat decent clip. But this also brings a lot droning from the CVT.

 


2015 Lexus NX 300h AWD 8


 

The NX 300h does regain some points back in a couple of areas. One is the ability to run on electric power only at speeds below 25 MPH. This is perfect for driving in parking lots or in neighborhoods. The other is fuel economy. The EPA rates the NX 300h AWD at 33 City/30 Highway/32 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 31.6 MPG.

 

As for driving, the NX 300h feels balanced. Over the potholed and rough roads of Detroit, the NX 300h felt composed. Bumps were largely isolated and the cabin was as quiet as a library. In the corners, the NX showed very little body roll and felt planted. We did wish the steering didn’t feel rubbery.

 

The Lexus NX 300h is an odd species. On one hand, the NX is very well done for being Lexus’ first compact crossover. The model boasts distinctive exterior styling, well-appointed interior, and a balance between sport and comfort. But the NX 300h has a number of comprises as well. The most apparent is powertrain which feels and sounds quite underpowered. Not helping is a small cargo area and an expensive price tag. The NX 300h starts at $40,645 for the front-wheel drive version and $41,310 for the all-wheel drive version. This about $5,000 more than the NX 200t and we can’t think of any reason aside from the improved fuel economy that you should spend the extra money on the hybrid.

 

You’re better off sticking with the regular NX 200t and having that extra $5,000 going towards some options.

 

Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the NX 300h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

 

 

Year: 2015
Make: Lexus
Model: NX
Trim: 300h AWD
Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Dual VVT-i Antkinson Cycle Inline-Four, 650V AC Electric Motor
Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 154 @ 5,700 (Gas), 141 @ 0 (Electric), 194 (Total Output)
Torque @ RPM: 152 @ 4,400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 33/30/32
Curb Weight: 4,189 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
Base Price: $41,310
As Tested Price: $52,013 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

 

Options:
Luxury Package - $4,465.00
Navigation Package - $2,140.00
Pre-Collison System w/All-Speed Cruise Control - $900.00
Electrochromic (Auto-Dimming) Outer Mirrors with Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Tilt, Heated, Memory - $660.00
Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00
60/40 Power Folding Rear Seats - $400.00
Qi-Compatible Wireless Charger - $220.00
Electrochromic (Auto-Dimming) Rear View Mirror and Lexus Homelink Garage Door Opener - $125.00
Cargo Mat - $99.00
Cargo Net - $69.00


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I have a really hard time with that interior 1) In a Lexus and 2) for $52k

 

It looks like an economy car interior with select pieces wrapped in leatherette.

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I have a really hard time with that interior 1) In a Lexus and 2) for $52k

 

It looks like an economy car interior with select pieces wrapped in leatherette.

Well, it is their entry level CUV...below the RX.   I guess the luxury package and the hybrid spec drives the price so high..

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There's really no compact luxury SUV that really has an interior to match that of its larger siblings. Maybe the GLC. Maybe the ambitiously priced MKC Black Label (in terms of materials only)...

 

It really does look like Corolla Interior with more vinyl.

 

If I were to get a Lexus, it'd probably be the GS. It's the only one that I think the new grille works well with.

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      This being a refresh, Hyundai couldn’t go completely crazy in terms of the design language, however the updates really help the Sonata have more presence. Up front is bolder with a new hexagonal grille surround, chrome grille slats, new sculpting on the hood, and deep cuts in the bumper for LED fog lights. The side profile retains the chrome trim that runs through the headlights and around the windows. Hyundai made some drastic changes for the rear by smoothing out the trunk lid and moving the placement of the license plate to the bumper. 
      The Sonata’s interior retains the basic shape of the outgoing model, but changes have been made to freshen it up. The center stack boasts a revised control layout and all trims get a three-spoke steering wheel. Previously, only the Sport trim got this wheel design. It would have been nice if Hyundai was a little bit more adventurous with the design, but I’m willing to forgive some of this feeling as the controls fall easily into hand. Interior materials are about average for the class with a mix of hard and soft plastics.
      The front seats were designed with long-distance comfort in mind with a fair amount of seat padding and just the right amount of firmness. Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard on the Limited and offer a generous range of adjustments. Space in the back is quite roomy and there are some nice touches such as manual window shades. The Sonata has one of the largest trunks in the class with 16.3 cubic feet of space on offer.
      All Sonata’s come with a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system. Our test Sonata Limited had the optional 8-inch screen with navigation. The current BlueLink system has been with us for a few years and its interface is beginning to look somewhat dated, but the system is still one of the best when it comes to overall usability with large touchscreen buttons, bright screen, and a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Sonatas except the base SE.
      Sonata offers one of the widest range of powertrains in the segment with three gas engines, a hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Our Sonata Limited came with the base 2.4L inline-four producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. The engine provides adequate power for around town and rural driving. You will need to step on it when making a pass or merging onto a freeway as torque resides higher in the rev band. The six-speed automatic goes about its business smoothly and always knows what gear it needs to be in. Hyundai does offer an eight-speed automatic, but only if you opt for the turbocharged 2.0L.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Sonata Limited are 25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined (SE models see a one mpg increase in highway and combined figures). My average for the week landed around 28.5 mpg.
      Hyundai did make some tweaks to the 2018 Sonata’s suspension including a revised rear suspension setup with thicker trailing arms and revised steering system. The end result is a Sonata that handles much better than the previous car. Body motion has noticeably decreased and the steering provides decent weight when turning. Thankfully, the tweaks made to the suspension haven’t affected the Sonata’s ride quality. Bumps and other road imperfections are soaked up before reaching passengers. Some of the credit has to go to Hyundai not going crazy on offering large wheels - the Limited seen here rides on 17-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels.
      My first impression seeing the 2018 Sonata was that Hyundai had improved it, but was still a bit short when compared to the work done by other automakers. Spending a week with the Sonata caused me to change my train of thought; It surprised me how much work Hyundai put into this mid-cycle refresh and brings the Sonata up to the point where I would say it is fighting for best-in-class honors. 
      While the 2018 Sonata may lack most of the pizzazz found in the sixth-generation model, it does show that Hyundai has learned from its mistake and worked to reclaim some of the magic.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic. Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/28
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $27,400
      As Tested Price: $31,310 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Ultimate Package - $2,900.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
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