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2015 Lexus NX 300h Heels on Wheels Review +VIDEO


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2015 Lexus NX 300h

HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 LEXUS NX 300h REVIEW

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE LEXUS NX 300h VEHICLE Lexus strikes on the compact luxury crossover with the all-new NX 300h, a hybrid head-turner loaded with the right technology, refinement, and performance … pretty much presented in the perfect shape. You might be thinking Lexus has already achieved this with the larger RX 450h, but the beauty of the NX is that it also available in a gas-powered 2-liter turbo and a popular F Sport version.

I drove a 2015 Lexus NX 300h with the Lexus Hybrid System that uses a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine combined with a lighter electric motor for an output of 195 horsepower. Standard equipment on the NX 300h includes: NuLuxe premium vinyl upholstery; dual-zone climate control; ten-way power front seats; power tilt-and-telescopic steering column; steering wheel with mounted controls; an eight-speaker premium audio system with iTunes Tagging and Internet Radio; Bluetooth; a cargo area tonneau cover; a rearview camera display; and seventeen-inch wheels. Total vehicle price without options came to $39,720.

This is the sixth hybrid for the Lexus family, with a much sportier presence than the RX lineup, and even more so if you opt for the F Sport package. Main rivals are the BMW X3, Audi Q5 Hybrid, and Porsche Cayenne Hybrid.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Lexus hit a homerun in terms of creating an elegant exterior design with a sporty feel. Inside, the cabin boasts premium materials and functional layout. Highlights include the available power folding rear seats, heated steering wheel, a wireless phone charger located in the lower center console (and a pull-out mirror next to that), a remote touchpad, and surprising cargo space – options all tucked into expensive package that can add another $10k easily to the price. Some of the commands on the interface have gotten rather minuscule to save space, with the heated seat buttons no bigger than a thumbnail. The dashboard overall holds a lot of technology: stacked at the top is the touchscreen; followed by the climate dials; and tucked under that the audio system, with finally the Drive Mode Select dial and remote touchpad.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2015 Lexus NX 300h ratings of “Good” in all categories, making it a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it an overall rating of 5-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes premium triple-beam headlights, backup camera with dynamic gridlines, and optional safety technology like a Blind Spot Monitor and adaptive cruise control with a pre-collision warning system.

Cost Issues: The 2015 Lexus NX 300h starts at $39,720, with all the aforementioned options you’re looking at closer to $50k. Starting price for the Acura RDX starts at $35,095; the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid at $66,995 with a sorry 20-city and 23-highway fuel economy rating; and the bigger 2015 Lexus RX 450h sister at $57,405.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Lexus NX 300h delivers a sportier hybrid flavor for its class, despite its horsepower being about 100 less than the RX 450h. A new transmission with a kick-down function uses the torque of the hybrid motor to automatically counter the pitching force caused by uneven roads, keeping the vehicle level for a more comfortable ride. Less intimidating in size than its siblings, the NX features more nimble traits. Pro-active all-weather drive is available as well.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy of 35-city and 31-highway for a combined 33 miles-per-gallon, and I retained close to it. The larger RX 450h gets a little less at 30-city and 28-highway for a combined claim of 29 miles-per-gallon with the all-wheel drive (I was able to retain about 27.8 miles-per-gallon with heavy highway driving).

FINAL PARTING WORDS
A unique and timely addition to the compact crossover market, the Lexus NX brings luxury to all with the choice remaining in the powertrain. Costly upgrade packages will tack $10k onto the price tag, but cutting edge features like a wireless charger and remote touchpad are worth the price.



©2015 Katrina Ramser