Toyota is a leader in hybrid vehicles and the Lexus NX 300h is another example of what their luxury brand has to offer. Consumers often switch to hybrids for their fuel-saving ability, and this compact luxury SUV has a lot to offer. It comes with a quiet cabin, elevated ride height, plenty of backseat space, and easy maneuverability in the city. The NX’s driving experience strikes a good balance between comfort and driver involvement.
What’s New For 2017
The NX 300h is now offered in all-wheel drive only. It also receives a standard Scout GPS Link navigation app that streams from a smartphone.
The Lexus NX 300h ($39,720) includes 17-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED fog and running lights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, automatic dual-zone climate control, eight-way power-adjustable front seats with two-way driver lumbar adjustment, a power-adjustable and leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a 60/40-split folding and reclining backseat.
It also comes with Bluetooth, a 7-inch Lexus Display Audio knob-and-screen interface, one USB port, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player. HD and satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, and a media player interface are also included.
The Luxury package ($4,545) adds a power lift gate, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, and a heated steering wheel. A power-folding rear seat can be added to the Luxury package. The Navigation package ($1,815) adds the full Lexus navigation system, the Remote Touch infotainment interface, a variety of smartphone apps, and two additional speakers. Additional options include front and rear parking sensors (Intuitive Parking Assist $500), upgraded LED headlights ($1,116), and wireless smartphone charging ($220). Total MSRP including destination: $50,433.
Stepping inside the Lexus NX 300h cabin reveals a cool, modern interior with soft leather seats and dark Umber trim. The quality of materials is top-notch, with soft-touch surfaces that look and feel rich. Lexus pays attention to detail with features like the contrasting stitching, wood trim, and the modern analog clock. The center stack and console have a distinctive Z-shape profile, which adds a sense of sportiness to the crossover.
What we didn’t like was using the Remote Touch pad that controls the information display. It’s hard to use and draws attention away from the road. It’s also harder to use than the joystick-like touch controller in the Lexus RX.
In the rear, passengers will find generous room despite the vehicle’s modest overall dimensions, but cargo space is less than many other compact crossovers. With the seats up, the NX 300h offers 17.7 cubic feet, making it less spacious than many competitors. With the seats folded flat, it gets 53.7 cubic feet of total volume.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2017 Lexus NX 300h features a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with three electric motors, supplied by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Together, they produce a maximum output of 194 horsepower. It comes mated with an Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is now standard for 2017 making the crossover a capable all-weather vehicle.
The NX 300h gets an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 33/30 city/highway and 31 combined.
We drove the majority of our miles this weekend on the highway, so we didn’t enjoy the fuel mileage benefits city commuters would. On the road, the cabin of the NX 300h is quiet and comfortable. The only noise we heard was the drone of the CVT. The power and acceleration are typical of a Toyota hybrid with rather slow but relaxed driving dynamics. It’s not a powerhouse, but it will get you onto the highway without an issue when you step on the gas. It’s also small enough to maneuver in urban traffic and will navigate tight city streets with ease.
A snow storm hit the mountains of Colorado west of Denver and we had the opportunity to try out the standard Torque Control all-wheel drive system. It relies solely on one of the electric motors to drive the rear wheels, making it less capable than other AWD systems. We experienced some wheel slippage on the slick, snowy streets and felt it didn’t give us the maximum traction needed for these types of situations.
With the emphasis on going green these days, the NX 300h delivers above average fuel economy for a compact luxury SUV. The NX 300h is the only compact luxury SUV on the market that’s also a hybrid. The luxury model offers a high-quality interior, sharp styling, and a quiet ride. If you don’t need to haul a lot of cargo, it will be an excellent urban commuter you can maneuver with ease.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy