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2015 Lexus NX 200t Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel


REVIEWED MODEL: 2015 Lexus NX200t
ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 235 hp @ 5,600 rpm/258 lb.-ft. @ 1,650-4,000 rpm WHEELBASE: 104.7 in. LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 182.3 x 73.6 x 64.8 in. TIRES: P225/60R18 CARGO: 17.7/54.6 cu. ft. (rear seat backs up/down) ECONOMY: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/19.3 mpg test FUEL TANK: 15.9 gal. CURB WEIGHT: 3,940 lbs. STICKER: $35,000-$40,000 (est.) BOTTOM LINE: As small crossovers go, the Lexus NX200t is at or near the top. It has styling, luxury and the “utilityâ€??? of an SUV.          

When I first glanced at the Lexus NX200t, it reminded me of the Lexus CT hybrid. That’s not a bad thing, because the CT is a nice car, but I kind of wondered, initially, if Lexus was caught in a rut.          

As usual, I was wrong. The NX is a lot more than the CT. It is a true crossover utility vehicle with decent power. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four is quiet most of the time, and ride quality is very good. I expected a CVT transmission, but the 6-speed automatic waws fine. There are settings on the center console allowing the driver to choose among “Eco,â€??? “Normal,â€??? and “Sport.â€???          

Like most sport utilities, the NX has a high roof design that makes for easier entry and egress as well as better interior headroom. Entry is aided by handle lights that aid in finding the door handles in the dark. Since locking and unlocking is performed through the key fob, the handles sole function is to open the door, and it is a touch easier with the lights. Since there’s always a lot of extra light, the handle lights also serve as puddle lights.          

The EPA classifies the NX as a small SUV. Well, it is sporty and utilitarian and it is a vehicle. In truth, it is better thought of as a compact hatchback. Hatch backs are noted for their luggage capacity and, to a certain extent by their utility.          

Nonetheless, the NX offers good ride quality. It handles well in what I call my “gym run,â€??? with a couple of long straightaways and some tight turns, the kind of handling test most owners would encounter. In addition, the NX is easy to park and un-park with a host of assist, including a back-up camera with turn indicators, and front and rear proximity warnings. These alert the driver if he or she is getting too close to snow drifts in front or back or other cars at the sides. Un-parking is aided immeasurably by rear cross traffic alert, which lets you know if there is a vehicle (or person) crossing behind you.          

The cargo area is practical and of good size. You only have to lower the rear seat backs if you have really large packages. Lexus claims that you can fit four golf bags in the cargo area without lowering the seat backs. I couldn‘t check this because my clubs are in hibernation now.          

There is very good second row head and leg room. “Wing windowsâ€??? add to rear airiness. Four assist handles make entering easier.          

The front seats offer good side support, enhancing the “Sâ€??? in SUV. A unique feature in the NX is a small hand-held vanity mirror in the console between the front seats. This is handy if the visor-mounted mirror proves insufficient, or if two mirrors working together give a better view. There are USB, AUX and 12-volt outlets in the center console/arm rest.          

The instrument panel is clear, with a large tachometer and inset digital speedometer dominating. In the center of the dash is a large screen for audio and navigation functions. It looks as if it might lower, but doesn’t. Thankfully, the HVAC system worked like a charm in bitter cold.          

My wife and I were entertained by Lexus’s choice of color names. The exterior, for example, was “Fire Agate Pearl,â€??? essentially dark brown. The tasteful interior was “Flaxen NuLuxe with Dark Under Trim,â€??? meaning tan inserts with dark brown surrounds on simulated leather.          

While there were notices all over our test vehicle that it was a pre-production prototype vehicle and not to be too concerned about fit and finish issues. Ha! I’d like to see them do better. The NX200t is typical Lexus in its attention to detail and fit and finish issues. It is attractive enough to draw glances from pedestrians and other parking lot users, and has enough features to make it desirable. No price has yet been quoted. I just hope Lexus makes it attractive enough for most people.

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