2015 Lexus NX 200t
John Goreham's picture

2015 Lexus NX 200t will dominate the premium crossover market

Torque News spent two days with the new Lexus NX crossover line. That was more than enough time to develop our first impressions and predict this vehicle’s future success.
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Lexus is launching the completely new 2015 NX 200t, NX 200t F Sport, and the NX 300h hybrid. It will go on sale first in Asian markets (Japan) and then in the US later this year, likely in early December. Torque News was honored to be among the first journalists in the US to see, drive, and learn about this important new vehicle for Lexus and our first impressions are overwhelmingly positive.

Over the coming weeks, Torque News will dive deeply into this new 2015 Lexus NX 200t and NX 300h. Consider this story the cheat sheet. We will start at the end. This vehicle is the same size as the Acura RDX, BMW X3 and Audi Q5. In two years we predict this will be the best selling crossover of its size in the premium and luxury classes. That is a bold statement, but we have been right about the Lexus line in the past. Only the larger Lexus RX will rival the NX 200t in sales. Lexus will dominate the class in two size categories, and the future 3-row Lexus based on RX, which is surely coming, may in fact make it a trifecta.

2015 Lexus NX 200t, NX 300h Styling
The look of this car in person is very good, very Lexus. Haters will write their negative comments and add nicknames to it, but this look has already been tried on the new IS and new GS and sales doubled. Views on the looks of a vehicle are opinions, but what we think is not an opinion is that the Lexus shoppers will like it or love it. Will say only this; the photos do not do the car justice. If you are considering an NX, go see it and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Driving Impressions of the 2015 Lexus NX 200t, NX 200t F Sport
We drove the 2015 Lexus NX 200t and the NX 200t F Sport on a combination of city street, back-roads, and highways. The new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is a gem. Not a powerhouse, but strong enough. Smooth and quiet is the big news. This engine makes the BMW’s 2.0 liter turbo sound like a diesel, and we mean that as an insult, in case it isn’t clear. The six-speed automatic transmission is well-matched to the engine and does not load up the car with more gears than it can put to practical use.

Handling is Lexus-good. BMW’s X3 will still feel a smidge more solid and buttoned down to discerning drivers. Most Lexus shoppers will not be able to tell since the gap is narrow now. On a test drive, this car will excel. It turns without leaning. Bumps are soaked up and dispatched. There is no noise. Brakes were very good an nicely grabby. Acceleration is linear, and there is more than most buyers will need or expect. 0-60 comes in about 7 seconds. If a shopper can push the NX a bit, they will call it “Sporty.” Some in attendance were saying it handles like a Lexus IS sports sedan. I will not go that far, but I understand what they mean. The great news is the F Sport is not overly firm or harsh.

Interior Elements of the 2015 Lexus NX line
Up front, the NX 200t will fit almost all adults. For those that want a lot more room, Lexus already has a larger crossover in the RX 350. I get regular wheel time in a current generation BMW X3, and this Lexus NX feels exactly the same size inside. Rumors that cargo space is too small are overblown. It will hold an adult’s hockey bag. A family of 4’s groceries plus a duffel bag would fit. Four sets of golf clubs. One or two very large pet carriers would slide inside. What more should one expect in a vehicle this size? It meets that expectation, but no more.

The Lexus dash, nav, and audio are all good or great depending upon your view. We will explore this closely, but it is all there, and the Nav screen does all the cool things, such as give you 3D building views. The interior quality is what I would call “premium.” So as not to intrude on the RX 350 line, the NX configurations don’t allow for all the sporty bits plus all the luxury bits to be combined – yet. Future trims may.

Lexus NX Configurations, Fuel Economy, and Prices
Lexus will offer the 2015 NX six ways. NX 200t, NX 200t F Sport, and NX 300h hybrid. All of these can either be 2WD or all-weather drive. Forget the phrase “four-wheel drive.” This is an on-road vehicle. Our estimate for an NX 200t with its most popular content will have an MSRP of about $39,700. For a full price breakdown based on our estimates, please see the story below. The NX turbo will have class-competitive fuel efficiency, and the NX 300h will launch as the most fuel efficient crossover of its size in the US market and in 2WD may get 35 MPG in the city. Lexus plans a fuel economy and price update in about 90 days and we plan to be the first to bring that news to you.

Related Stories:
Breaking down the pricing of the 2015 Lexus NX 200t

Photography by John Goreham


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Comments

John.. I agree, it is good looking. However, I don't see the NX overtaking Acura and Honda SUV sales. look at your price point. Thanks for the informative read.
Thanks for helping me clear that up. If I implied it would overtake the CRV it was unintentional. I only meant to say that after it is up to full production and the marketing has worked (I think I said two years) it will be number one in its premium compact segment. Non-premium Escape, RAV4, CRV sell at much higher numbers. I love the RDX, but the dealer experience near me is nothing like Lexus. Lexus also has much more powerful marketing and a larger customer base working to its advantage. Anyway, RDX, X3, and Q5 are all selling at about a rate of 40K to 50K vehicles per year. I predict this vehicle will pass them once it is in the market. Passing the MDX will be tough, but I think as time passes the larger crossovers will start to sell slightly less by comparison to the ones this size. MDX is at a rate of 60K to 70K per year now. NX could achieve that. Not so sure it will catch the RX which is at a rate of 120K per year as of today.
It's an everchanging industry John. I appreciate your research exhibited here. Very informative piece. Apples to Oranges, I'm sure the vehicle will appeal to the Lexus fans.
Do you know if this or any of the Lexus Hybrids will use regular gasoline or are they all premium gas users. No one ever states this in reviews?
Ken, thank you for asking this. I should have mentioned it in the story. All Lexus hybrids in the US market are rated for 87 octane (regular). Sadly, Lexus tells me (in person, by e-mail, and in their printed materials) that the NX 200t 2-Liter turbo will be rated for 91 octane (premium) only and that it will carry a pretty stern disclaimer warning owners not to use regular in the turbo. When I speak to Lexus I often point out to them that the company's two largest sellers, RX and EX are both rated for regular. Coincidence? - Also, both Ford and Hyundai have been selling 2-Liter turbos with more horsepower and equal fuel economy to the upcoming NX 200t and both are rated for 87 (regular). I am big advocate of all cars being capable of operation at their rated specs on 87. Thanks for the opportunity to help and to vent.
91 octane?? Defeats. The whole purpose of a mid size SUV. I have an NX on order and have been driving RX350 for 16 years. Now it uses regular gas. The extra cost of 91 octane will basically make them the Same cost to operate . The RX will be a much more spaciious SUV and will certainly ride quieter and And offer more comfort. May have to change my order. The RX doesn't cost that much more