The Lexus NX is a compact luxury crossover that looks like the transport for an advanced alien species. What do you need to know before you buy an NX? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.

Every Lexus now comes with a sharp, predator-like grill and most now sport the heavily creased flanks. The NX is the ultimate fulfillment of all of the design language the Japanese luxury carmaker has embraced. It’s like 30 feet of design on a car that’s 15 feet long, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Yes, there’s a Toyota RAV4 in there somewhere, but you can barely tell. From the 2.0-liter turbo engine to the mouse-based infotainment system, the NX very much feels like its own car.

What It’s Like To Drive

The aesthetics promise a drive that’s more exciting than your average crossover and the NX comes close to delivering, due largely to its punchy little 2.0-liter turbo and its 258 lb-ft of torque.

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But this isn’t an SQ5.

The Lexus NX still privileges comfort over sportiness with a suspension that’s only slightly aggressive. Zipping around streets in your neighborhood and the NX feels quick (if you manual shift) when you get the revs up with decent grip for quick turns, but push it too hard and it’ll remind you it’s a still a taller and heavier version of a hatchback with a lot of roll and lean.

Visibility is also somewhat restricted, but people who buy these cars like the security that comes from being in your own little bank vault and they’ll be pleased with the illusion of protection that comes with the high belt-line and raised seating position.

What’s New About The 2016 Lexus NX

The Lexus NX launched for the 2015 model year as Lexus’s entry-level CUV, slotting just below the RX. It sits on a heavily modified Toyota RAV4 platform and promises not just luxury, but also a bit of “sportiness.” That sportiness is powered by Lexus’s first ever turbo gas engine, the 2.0-liter 235 horsepower turbo I4, or a 2.5-liter hybrid I4.

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In 2016, Lexus is offering a few new paint colors and “additional connectivity,” but the car remains essentially unchanged from 2015.

Powertrain Breakdown

Lexus offers two engines in their NX. The NX200t gets a 2.0-liter turbo I4 that Lexus designed in-house. Yes, it’s Lexus’s first-ever turbo gasoline engine. Exciting stuff. That engine gets bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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The hybrid model, the NX300h, gets a 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle inline four. That engine makes 154 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 152 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Lexus matches that engine with a 141 horsepower permanent magnet motor and, on all-wheel drive models, a 67 horsepower rear motor generator. The results is a total system power of 194 horses, which are managed via a continuously variable transmission.

The gas engine will get you to 60 mph in about seven seconds, while the hybrid takes a bit longer at close to nine. So, the NX isn’t a barn-burner by any stretch.

2016 Lexus NX Engine Options

EngineMax Horsepower (hp)Max Torque (lb-ft)
2.0L Turbo I4235 @ 4,800 rpm
258 @ 1,650 rpm
2.5L Hybrid I4194 (total system power) -

Fuel Economy Breakdown

Fuel economy numbers for the 200t gas model are in line with other vehicles of similar size and horsepower (like Ford Escape 2.0 turbo), but the 300h hybrid model’s fuel economy numbers are impressive.

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The 194 horsepower hybrid NX manages 33 MPG combined in front-wheel drive trim and 32 MPG when only the front wheels get power. While the 200t, with its 6-speed auto and 235 horsepower, is no doubt the better model for people who want a bit more “pep,” the 300h hybrid is the one to get if you really want to put some miles between gas stops. Even though the hybrid’s drivetrain means the 300h has about a gallon smaller fuel tank.

2016 Lexus NX Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)

-2.0L Turbo I42.5L Hybrid I4
Automatic22/28/25 (fwd)
22/28/24 (awd)
22/27/24 (F Sport awd)

35/31/33 (fwd)
33/30/32 (awd)

Trim Level Breakdown

The Lexus NX is broken up into three models: NX 200t, NX200t F Sport and NX 300h, all of which can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

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Steering for all NXs is electric and suspension is a MacPherson strut design up front and a trailing arm double wishbone setup in the back.

  • NX200t: Starts at $34,865. Notable standard features: 2.0-liter turbo I4 with stop/start, 6-speed automatic, 17” alloy wheels, Drive Mode Select, pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic climate control, power tilt and telescoping steering column, eight-speaker audio system with 7-inch color display, eight airbags, backup camera. Notable options: All-wheel drive ($1,400); Luxury Package: wood interior trim, perforated leather seats, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate ($4,725); Premium Package: power moonroof, 18” alloy wheels, heated and vented front seats, enhanced LED daytime running lights ($2,890+Navigation Package); Navigation Package: Navigation system, remote touchpad, 10-speaker premium audio system ($1,875+Premium Package or Luxury Package); Pre-Collision System with Pre-Collision Braking and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control ($900); Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert ($660+Navigation Package).
  • NX200t F Sport: Starts at $35,965. Notable standard features over NX200t: F Sport suspension tuning, F Sport steering wheel, bolstered F Sport seats, unique interior trim, G-force and turbo-boost displays, unique front fascia and grille, unique 18” wheels, aluminum pedals, black headliner. Notable options: All-wheel drive ($1,400); Navigation Package ($2,140); Premium Package ($2,045).
  • NX 300h: Starts at $39,720. Notable standard features over NX200t: 2.5L Atkinson Cycle I4 hybrid powertrain, CVT transmission, unique LED headlights, Active Damping Control. Notable options: Luxury Package ($4,505); Premium Package ($2,670+Navigation Package); Navigation Package ($1,875).

Which One We’d Buy

The “base” version of this car comes with the best engine so you’re good getting the cheapest model you can find on the lot, but if you’re buying something as wild looking as the NX you should just go all out and get the NX200t F Sport with its better seats. Add in AWD and the premium/navigation package and it’s nearly $42,000 with fees for a nice Toyota RAV4, which seems like a lot but don’t forget that this is a really nice Toyota RAV4.

[Build Your Own Lexus NX]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $34,865-$41,310 Top Speed: ~124 MPH [2.0 turbo]

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Acceleration: 7.0s to 60 [2.0 turbo AWD]

MPG: 35 city / 31 hwy / 33 combined [FWD Hybrid]

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Engines: 2.0L Turbo I4, 2.5L Atkinson Cycle I4 Hybrid

Max Horsepower/Torque: 235 hp/258 lb-ft [2.0 turbo]

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Curb Weight: ~3,940-4,180 IIHS Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick +

Transmissions: 6-Speed Automatic, CVT Automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, FWD/AWD

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Photo credit: Lexus