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REVIEW
From Edmunds.com
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PROS
  • Impeccable cabin construction and quality
  • Smooth and quiet engine
  • Generous backseat room
  • Copious high-tech features
CONS
  • Small cargo capacity
  • Potentially distracting and frustrating Remote Touch tech interface

Introduced two years ago, the NX 200t represents a different type of Lexus crossover SUV. It's sharply styled and possesses a much sportier driving experience than the Lexus norm. Its size is also distinctive. It's a little bigger than most other new-breed subcompact luxury crossover SUVs but smaller than more established compacts. Unchanged, though, are the Lexus trademarks of an ultra-smooth engine, a quiet cabin, superior quality and a reputation for excellent reliability.

The main downside to the 2017 Lexus NX 200t is cargo space. There's just not a whole lot of it. If you expect that you'll be frequently hauling a lot of stuff, there might be better options for you. The sporty and spacious BMW X3 is a great choice, as is the value-rich and highly practical Acura RDX. The more compact BMW X1 is also worth a look. And if you do need more space than the NX provides, the Lexus RX 350 will deliver that, plus an even fancier interior, for not that much more money. Certainly, you have some choices in this class, but the NX 200t should definitely be among them.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017

For 2017, the NX 200t receives a standard Scout GPS Link navigation app that streams from a smartphone.

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TRIMS & EQUIPMENT

The 2017 Lexus NX 200t is a five-passenger compact SUV available in a single trim level. The NX 300h hybrid is reviewed separately.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED foglights and running lights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, automatic dual-zone climate control, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with two-way driver lumbar adjustment), simulated-leather upholstery (Lexus' NuLuxe), a 60/40-split folding and reclining backseat, Bluetooth connectivity, the 7-inch Lexus Display Audio knob-and-screen interface, Scout GPS Link navigation smartphone app connectivity, one USB port and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a media player interface.

The NX 200t F Sport is in fact a package, which includes 18-inch wheels, special exterior styling elements, a sport-tuned suspension, special interior trim and NuLuxe color schemes, more aggressively bolstered seats, different gauges and a sport steering wheel.

Other packages are also available, but their availability can vary by region, so you'll want to check with your local dealer. The Comfort package includes a power-adjustable steering wheel and driver-seat memory functions. To that package, the Premium package adds 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats (heated only on the F Sport), upgraded exterior running lights and a blind-spot monitoring system (available separately). The Luxury package adds popular items such as leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, automatic wipers and a power liftgate, but it must be had with both the Comfort and Premium packages. A power-folding rear seat can be added separately to the Luxury package.

Additional options include front and rear parking sensors, a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control (bundled with forward collision mitigation), upgraded LED headlights and wireless smartphone charging. Some of the extras in the above package content can be available separately. There's also the Navigation package, which adds a full Lexus navigation system, the Remote Touch electronics interface, a variety of smartphone apps and two additional speakers.

2017 Lexus  NX Picture

INTERIOR & SAFETY

he NX's cabin isn't as radically designed as the vehicle's exterior, but it still exudes a cool, modern vibe that won't be mistaken for anything else in the segment. Construction is absolutely top-notch, with materials that look and feel rich. The soft leather-like material that lines the doors, dash and center console feels expensive, and we appreciate the padded areas that cushion the center console to keep your legs from whacking against a hard surface. Details such as contrast stitching, wood trim and a modern analog clock are tastefully applied.

The high-mounted climate controls are easy to reach and see, and other secondary controls are intuitive. The infotainment controls are less so, however. The standard Display Audio system utilizes a knob-and-screen system similar to BMW's iDrive. We haven't had a chance to try Display Audio, but most NX models are likely to leave the dealer lot with navigation and thus the Lexus' Remote Touch interface as well. With Remote Touch, various menus and icons are selected with a console-mounted touchpad like a laptop's. There is haptic feedback (vibration) through that pad when you click something, but in general, we find that using Remote Touch draws too much of your attention from the road. (The touchpad is also harder to use than the small joystick-like Remote Touch controller in the Lexus RX.) Tech-savvy users might also be disappointed by the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.

The NX is great at carrying people, less so their stuff. Rear passengers should find generous room despite the vehicle's modest overall dimensions, but cargo space is tight. The NX's 54.6 cubic feet of total volume brings up the rear in this segment, and the raked liftgate seems to make it less versatile than even its modest volume number would suggest. With the seats up, cargo space shrinks to 17.7 cubic feet, making it less spacious than even some subcompact crossovers.

Every NX 200t comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag, side curtain airbags and a front passenger under-cushion airbag that prevents an occupant from sliding out from under the seat belt. Also standard is Lexus Enform Safety Connect, which includes automatic collision notification, an emergency call button and a stolen vehicle locator.

Optional features include a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane departure warning system and a forward collision mitigation system (included with adaptive cruise control) that warns of a possible collision and can automatically apply the brakes in the event of driver inaction.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the NX earned a top Good score for its performance in the small- and moderate-overlap front-impact tests as well as Good score for the side-impact, roof strength and seat/head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. The NX 200t has also earned good marks in government tests, with a five-star (out of a possible five) rating for overall crash protection (four stars for front-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety).

2017 Lexus  NX Picture

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

The 2017 Lexus NX 200t is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is an option. 

In Edmunds performance testing, a front-wheel-drive NX 200t went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds, which is about average for a small crossover with a base engine.

EPA estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) for an NX 200t with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive only lowers the combined figure to 24 mpg. On the Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route, a front-wheel-drive NX 200t returned 25.7 mpg, which is a fairly typical result relative to the EPA combined figure.

Much like the latest RX, the NX 200t represents a renewed focus on driving enjoyment from Lexus. Particularly on the F Sport version, the NX's body motions are nicely controlled when you're driving around turns and over bumps and dips. Still, this Lexus is still largely about getting you through the daily grind. The NX 200t's suspension smooths over road imperfections with ease. Where rivals feel busy and nervous, the Lexus seems to glide unaffected.

The 200t's engine is notably hushed, especially when compared to the turbocharged four-cylinders of some competitors. It's also very smooth and respectably powerful. Current luxury SUV owners used to V6 engines might not even notice that there are two fewer cylinders under the hood.

VERDICT

Looking for a small luxury crossover SUV that stands out in a crowd? The 2017 Lexus NX 200t certainly qualifies thanks to its aggressive exterior design. You'll like its impeccably crafted interior and spacious backseat, too. Read more to learn if this Lexus crossover is right for you.

Copyright Edmunds.com, Inc. All rights reserved. First published on www.edmunds.com and reprinted with permission. Edmunds and the Edmunds.com car logo are registered trademarks of Edmunds.com, Inc.
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