2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Review: An SUV For Driving Enthusiasts

In This Review:
As one of the more luxurious and sporty SUVs on the market, the Lexus NX 300 has a lot going for it. We still don't like the infotainment interface and the front grille does take some getting used to. However, the NX 300 makes for a good daily commuter.
Exterior Styling
80
Interior Layout
80
Driving Dynamics
92
Safety & Tech Features
90
Everyday Functionality
84
Pros
Interior Quality
Driving Dynamics
All-Wheel Drive Option
Cons
Rear Cargo Space
Remote Touch Interface
85

If you are waiting for the next-generation Lexus NX 300, there are some good reasons to buy a 2020 model. The exterior styling on this compact SUV still looks updated and modren, and it has excellent reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. Shoppers will find plush seating, a quiet interior, and a suitably powerful and fuel-efficient turbo engine. 

This week, we drove the 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport. Here is what we found during our week-long drive with the compact SUV. 

Lexus NX 300: What’s New For 2020?

For the 2020 model change, new driver safety features like low-light pedestrian detection, bicyclist detection, and lane centering assist are now available. For 2020, the NX 300 also gets added standard safety equipment via the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 (PDF). 

A Mark Levinson premium sound system with navigation is available for the first time on Premium, Luxury, and Premium F Sport. Arctic White and Black F Sport seats are available for the interior along with Rioja Red brown accents.

Features & Options: Safety & Convenience

The 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport with all-wheel drive ($40,360) comes loaded with standard features like keyless ignition and entry; power-adjustable front seats; and Lexus’ NuLuxe simulated-leather upholstery. You also get an eight-inch infotainment display with a remote touchpad interface, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. Lexus Enform Wi-Fi with 4GB of space is complimentary for the first three months.

Standard safety features like adaptive cruise control; forward collision warning and mitigation; and lane departure warning/intervention are also included.

2020 Lexus NX 300 Black Line Special Edition.
2020 Lexus NX 300 Black Line Special Edition. The special edition features bronze design elements inside and out.

F-Sport Treatments

The F Sport adds special 18-inch wheels; unique exterior styling elements; a sport-tuned suspension; heated sport steering wheel; fog lights; LED daytime running lights; heated outside mirrors; and aluminum pedals. This NX 300 tester came with an 14-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system; navigation; LED headlamps; and the Premium F Sport package.

How Much Does The 2020 Lexus NX 300 Cost?

Total MSRP including destination for our NX 300 tester: $51,048. By comparison, the 2020 Lexus NX 300 starts at $26,870 in a front-wheel drive configuration; $38,270 for one with all-wheel drive.

2020 Lexus NX 300.
 Cadmium Orange is a new color for the Lexus NX 300 for 2020.

Interior Highlights: Nice But Some Drawbacks

The NX 300 interior is a strong point with the level of craftsmanship you would expect from Lexus. The two-tone leather interior, with Dark Umber trim and light stitching, is stylish and attractive. We made liberal use of the heated seats and steering wheel as snow and cold hit the Denver area this week.

Our continuing complaint with the NX 300 is the frustrating and ill-conceived Remote Touch infotainment controller. We found it hard to use and a bit finicky to the touch. It’s our least favorite feature on the 2020 Lexus NX 300. One other drawback is how Lexus hasn’t made Android Auto readily available, so those smartphone users will be left out. However, Lexus says it will finally be available on vehicles built after October 1st, 2019. 

2020 Lexus NX 300 interior layout.
2020 Lexus NX 300 interior layout.

Interior Highlights: Roomy But Sometimes Tight

On the plus side, the leather seats both front and back are soft and extremely comfortable. We spent considerable seat-time this week commuting and traveling to a relative’s house for Thanksgiving. The 2020 Lexus NX 300 never left us feeling tired. There’s lots of legroom and headroom up front, a bonus for taller drivers.  

In the back, rear passengers will have ample space for longer trips. The standard 60/40 split rear seat with recline can be upgraded with a power-folding option. Switches are located on the instrument panel, on the side of each rear seat, and in the luggage compartment. If you need a vehicle for its cargo carrying abilities, the NX 300 may be a bit small. There is 17.7 cubic feet which falls short of the competition, and the NX’s steeply-sloped rear window cuts out some of the rear cargo space.

2020 Lexus NX 300: Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The NX 300 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder producing 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine uses a D4-S injection system, meaning a combination of direct fuel injection and additional port fuel injectors.

EPA fuel mileage estimates are 22/27 city/highway and 24 combined with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models come in a little better at 22/28 city/highway and 25 combined.

2020 Lexus NX 300.
2020 Lexus NX 300.

Does The Lexus NX 300 Have All-Wheel Drive?

If you need all-wheel-drive, it’s available and will be ideal for those who live in northern and Midwestern climates. Front-wheel drive is standard, but our NX tester came with the model’s optional all-wheel drive. Under most normal driving conditions, the system operates in front-wheel drive but can send up to 50 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when extra traction is needed.

2020 Lexus NX 300: Driving Dynamics

If you are looking for a luxury compact with a performance edge and added driver engagement, the 2020 Lexus NX 300 is available with the F Sport package. The package includes a sport-tuned suspension, which ramps up the fun-to-drive meter. Driving enthusiasts who value better handling will want this more athletic option.

The F Sport also adds steering wheel paddle shifters for those who want to engage the six-speed automatic manually. On the other hand, if you want something easy-to-drive, the NX 300 will also accommodate family members who simply want to sit back and enjoy the vehicle’s finer features, like the upgraded premium sound system. 

2020 Lexus NX 300.
Driving enthusiasts will want the more athletic F Sport option.

Driving Dynamics: Good In The City

This NX 300 tester also came with the optional adaptive variable suspension which helped smooth out the rough pavement and dirt roads we encountered this week. The NX makes a great city commuter too, and it’s an ideal size if you need to navigate narrow streets and tight parking spots.

Another helpful option was the panoramic view backup monitor ($600) which we would recommend. It allows you to see a much wider angle when backing in limited sight areas. The power rear hatch with a kick sensor is another feature you will want when carrying shopping bags and both hands are full.    

2020 Lexus NX 300.

Conclusion: Practical & Safe

The 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport brings extra driver engagement with improved driving dynamics over the standard model. The exterior styling may be a bit edgy, but once you step inside, the cabin will win you over. There’s extra attention to detail, luxury treatments, and the quality is there. This NX 300 also offers the latest safety equipment to keep the family safe in the event of an accident.

Overall, the NX 300 is a perfect everyday commuter that places few demands on the driver and provides a calm, comfortable cabin.

Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

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