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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

On smaller side for a crossover – but not in terms of luxury and performance – the Lexus NX 200t will also draw your attention for its commitment to keeping everything modern, from its fuel-saving yet undeniable sporty 2-liter turbo engine to loads of tech-focused features.

I drove a 2016 Lexus NX 200t with the 235-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Available in one trim with or without packages, standard equipment on the NX 200t includes: NuLuxe premium vinyl upholstery; dual-zone climate control; eight-way power front seats; power tilt-and-telescopic steering column; push-button start; premium audio system with iTunes Tagging and Internet Radio; Bluetooth connectivity; Siri Eyes Free; a cargo cover; a seven-inch display with rearview camera; Lexus Enform Service Connect; and seventeen-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price without options came to $34,965.

As the smaller luxury crossover market heats up, main rivals include the Acura RDX and BMW X3; but extends to the more mid-size Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Porsche Cayenne. The Lexus NX has a hybrid sibling, the 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


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Modern and sharp describes the interior with the F SPORT packaging giving it a sportier feel (personally I didn’t care for the red-on-black upholstery and would prefer tan or all-black). 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. As cited on last year’s model, 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 remote touchpad can be distracting to use while driving. Another downside – even in terms of comparing similar smaller crossovers – is the cargo area, which is very limited in space despite a nice under-the-floor organizational area.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2016 Lexus NX 200t 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 a backup camera with dynamic gridlines, an advanced airbag system, Lexus Enform Safety Connect, and optional safety technology.

Cost Issues: The 2016 Lexus NX 200t starts at $34,965; but like any luxury vehicle, packages can increase the price an easy $10k. My test drive featured a $1,875 Navigation Package and the premium F SPORT Package with heated front seats, ten-way power seating and moonroof was $2,045. All told the final price for a fully loaded NX 200t is $43,015. The starting price for the RDX is $35,270, with a recent fully loaded test-drive bringing the price to $43,420.

Activity & Performance Ability: The NX 200t scratches that itch for a sportier performing crossover, with more nimbleness and control that what you could ever get going with a top-of-the-line less luxurious competitor. The F SPORT is a strong reason to choose the NX 200t over the RDX, as the package truly adds sportier features with paddle shifters and a boost gauge. Another impressive feature is the fuel economy at 25 miles-per-gallon combined, which was true to its claim.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22-city and 28-highway for a combined 25 miles-per-gallon. The hybrid version or NX 330h gets 35-city and 31-highway for a combined 33 miles-per-gallon.

Lexus once again jumps on a niche to create a luxurious compact crossover that stands out from the rest. Expect cutting edge technology, quick performance and excellent fuel economy, with limited cargo space beings its one and only downside.

©2016 Katrina Ramser Parrish

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