Lexus NX F-Sport: Unconventional small-luxury-crossover SUV

Lexus NX F-Sport: Unconventional small-luxury-crossover SUV

Reviewed by Lary Coppola

Model Tested: 2017 Lexus NX 200t F-Sport

Engine: 2.0-Liter Turbo, 16-valve, DOHC, Dual VVT-IW — 235 HP; 258 lb-ft of Torque

Transmission: 6-speed Automatic, with Dynamic Torque Control AWD

EPA Ratings: 22/city, 27/highway, 24/combined

Base Price: $38,585

As Tested: $46,439

Overview: The 2017 Lexus NX is an unconventional small-luxury-crossover SUV — the first for Lexus — based somewhat upon Toyota’s RAV4 platform. It’s the first with a turbocharged engine, and was the first example of an unconventionally aggressive design (for Toyota/Lexus anyway) that’s showing up elsewhere in Toyota’s product line. Since its introduction in 2015, changes have been mostly evolutionary — which speaks volumes about consumer acceptance of such unconventional design. The NX features brand-specific powertrains that include a turbocharged 16-valve, DOHC 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the NX 200t F-Sport (our test vehicle) that puts 235 ponies to the pavement.

Walkaround: Visually, the NX is quite unique, with sharply creased bodylines, high doorsills, an up-sweeping rear end, and an oversized version of Lexus’ signature grille. The NX F-Sport takes the whole look-at-me thing way over the top with a black mesh grille, black mirrors, and metallic lower bumper moldings. Add the optional 20-inch wheels, and the F-Sport looks exceptionally recalcitrant. LED-accented door handles add a nice — and practical — touch in the dark.

Interior: The small platform hasn’t hampered the roomy, highly-refined, tastefully-appointed interior one expects from Lexus. There’s power everything and the usual array of advanced technology we all now take for granted. The Z-shaped profile of the center stack and console add tasteful sportiness — right down to the aluminum pedal covers — without overdoing it.

Unlike most crossovers, the seats aren’t elevated, which adds headroom, while seatbacks on the optional power-folding rear seat recline independently. There’s a handy storage compartment under the cargo floor, and an array of cubbies and pockets throughout the cabin.

Behind the Wheel: While most Lexus models are comfort-mobiles, the NX F-Sport has an enthusiastic personality. The powerplant is spirited, handling is quick, and switching to Sport-driving mode changes the transmission’s shift points for impatient acceleration. The NX F-Sport is just plain fun to drive. It handles curves with enthusiasm and feels quite confident at high speeds.

Bottom Line: The NX F-Sport looks, feels, and drives like a different kind a Lexus — because it is. Its bold design, spirited performance, and out-of-the-ordinary personality will attract new, younger buyers to the brand. Lexus’ legendary quality, luxury, and reliability will guarantee they stay.

 

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