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Consumer Reports calls 2015 Lexus NX200t a Worst Car Pick

We don’t agree with the conclusion, but some of their findings ring true.

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The Lexus NX200t premium compact crossover launched about one year ago. As soon as production had ramped up to full capacity, the NX200t quickly unseated the BMW X3 as the hot seller in the segment. Year to date only the Audi Q5 has the sales edge on the Lexus NX200t having sold 31K units to Lexus’29K. Customers seem to love the new NX200t, so why didn’t Consumer Reports (CR)?

In its article, CR took the NX200t to task in three areas. First, the testers found the ride of the NX200t to have “a firm, jostling ride. Its handling is no match for its German rivals.” Having tested all of the NX variants at its press launch, it is very hard to disagree. Only the base NX, with its smaller diameter wheels and higher profile tires, was smooth over bumps.

Next, CR took the NX to task on its infotainment system. CR found that the “(NX) system’s touchpad is challenging to manipulate while driving.” Again, we could not agree more. In fact, we would (and do) point out that all mouse-based systems have that negative feature. We much prefer more simple touch-pad systems at our fingertips. Here we think CR is being unfair to Lexus. Each of the top sellers in this class have remote interface systems and all have this same drawback. We have an Audi crossover in our driveway this week and the infotainment MMI is very difficult to use even when parked.

Last, Consumer Reports said of the interior trim of the NX200t, “(The NX) interior bits feel cheap.” We wish that CR had been more specific here. However, given their observations on the other negative aspects of the NX, we are sure they were honest and correct.

Do these things make the NX one of the five worst cars for sale in all of the U.S. in 2015? Of course not. The NX is very close to being the sales leader in this very hot and very crowded class of vehicles. It is outselling the Lincoln and BMW models by nearly 2 to 1 and has since it was launched many months ago. Worst cars in their segments don’t outsell rivals this handily.

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Eric (not verified)    September 2, 2015 - 6:02PM

These reviews seem to be a bit arbitrary especially on the point of the NX's interior which i thought bested merc/bmw/audi's compact suvs. Only lincoln was comparable and nothing much else. They also rated the car 74/100 which put it ahead of all but 7 cars in its class and the top one of those scored only 82 (not far from the NX). Anyways, i bought a lincoln instead of the NX (also against CR's advice) and im happy about that decision

KYJurisDoctor (not verified)    September 3, 2015 - 12:08AM

it is simply inconceivable that #lexus can make a "worse car pick". the tester at consumer reports must have smoked or snorted something they need to leave the hell alone!

Jantz (not verified)    September 3, 2015 - 9:44AM

Very surprised to hear about the interior complaints. The Acura RDX has the look and feel of a Honda Civic and CR is knocking the NX ? Also, I doubt very much that the ride is rougher than an X3.

Terry (not verified)    September 3, 2015 - 10:06AM

Consumer Reports (CR) focuses on value for those who want the most for a dollar. The analysis goes deeper than simple preference. I disagree with CR's conclusions at times, but have observed their objectivity to be consistent.
I found none of the quotes in this article that I checked to be in the CR full article, rather the article appears to paraphrase, in which case the use of quotation marks is incorrect. CR has consistent in criticizing screen interfaces, but also details how implementations vary. Also, CR specifically called out the interior panels and handles rather than simply blaming "interior bits" as the article claimed.
In closing, proofreading should eliminate phrases such as " ar its press launch" and "with its smaller diameter tires and higher profile tires."

John Goreham    September 3, 2015 - 10:36AM

In reply to by Terry (not verified)

Good observations and thank you for catching the misplaced "r." I have to use quotes because I took those words directly from Consumer Reports' work, be it the summary of their report or not. I edited the tire and wheel sentence to be more clear as well. Cheers,

Mark Day (not verified)    September 3, 2015 - 8:26PM

The Lexus NX200t (RAV4 in Drag) is outselling some of its rivals through folks who want the "prestige" of the Lexus name but not the expense. As a driver on U.S. roads it's apparent the majority of motorists either don't know, or don't care, about the rules-of-the-road (move over for faster traffic, et al.), or anything automotive - Voila - a match.

Bob Bubeck (not verified)    September 3, 2015 - 11:55PM

I have owned an NX 200t (base model with Luxury package) for over one month. The base model is the largest seller of the three variants and the one inexplicably not reviewed by CR. It has performed well with a very good compromise between ride and handling with NH&V held to a minimum for this class. The delivery condition of the vehicle was perfect with superior assembly, fit, and finish. Nary a squeak or rattle. The paint is flawless. The seats are great with real leather surfaces. Real wood trim. NO problems have come to the fore so far. The new twin turbo 4 is really sweet. The blind spot, parking assist, adaptive cruise, and lane departure safety features all work perfectly and as promised. These important safety features are often difficult (if not impossible) to find on much of the German competition and part of costly option packages when one does. It's fun to drive. And, I mastered the mouse pad within a day. Although not really a family car, it is a good fit for couples and singles wishing for a stylish, sharp driving, but useful CUV. A 'by the seat' comparison quickly reveals that the NX is much superior to a RAV4. Could some details be improved upon? Yes, but the NX is hardly one of the worst of 2015.

The over the top CR review, as published in their September 2015 issue, is pretty snarky with a lot of too-cute-by-half prose which is at odds with their more reasonably balanced review posted on the Internet in March. In fact, the two reviews are fairly inconsistent with which other. There have been many positive reviews published about the new NX -- a big Motor Trend review being one of the more notable ones. As a consequence, the slavish repeating of the CR critique by some of the press without performing a broader investigation of what has been offered in reviews is very misleading.

Laslow (not verified)    December 24, 2015 - 5:26PM

In reply to by Bob Bubeck (not verified)

There are many sources one can go to for auto reviews, but not one comes even close to the reputation for honesty and objectivity as CR. They have no ads in their mags - none. In fact they sue anyone that uses their reviews in their advertising. They are non profit.

I always find it slightly humorous when a review literally gushes about some car of other and when I turn the page there is a full page layout of the same car - as an advertisement. Can no one see the obvious conflict there? Its not the subscription fees that keep these mags in business - it is the ads. They live or die from ad revenue. So how honestly objective they will be in their reviews? And while CR may not be perfect there is not another source of objectivity that actually rates reliability over time in detail for any car.

Some of the public has actually figured that out over the years. Have you?

Heather Keathley (not verified)    May 1, 2016 - 3:37PM

In reply to by Bob Bubeck (not verified)

Bob, I completely agree with your review of the NX. I'm in the process of purchasing one for my daughter. We test drove the NX, RAV4, Q3 and Q5. The RAV4 definitely feels like a Toyota version of the NX. Perhaps a "practical" version vs. a "luxury" version as the top price of each vehicle is approximately $35k and $45k, respectively. The Q3 left much to be desired in terms of technology, handling, power, ride and space in the backseat. It had less HP than the NX too. The Q3 Prestige we drove was $42k. The Q5 had more room; however the technology on the 2016 is severely lacking and the model we drove had less HP than the NX. We drove a $48k Q5. I'd prefer to learn how to use a touchpad and integrated technology in an SUV over not having the technology at all. My daughter is a young woman and found it funny that she'd need an adapter for the cigarette lighter to charge her iPhone in the Q3/Q5. She relies heavily on her phone and was disappointed to discover the Q3 and Q5 are not yet integrated with Apple Technology. Both the NX luxury and F Sport are beautifully finished out on the inside. I found the NX acceleration to be superior to the other three SUV's we tested and the cabin was quiet too. I'm pleased with the safety features as well: parking assist, blind spot monitoring, lane departure and adaptive cruise-control.

Bob (not verified)    September 8, 2015 - 1:15PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

To be more specific, "Motorweek" has the opinion that the NX300h is lacking. Well, hybrids usually have genuine trade offs that one must accept for the fuel economy. Both they and CR have not reviewed the base model, which is probably the best compromise for most customers and what a plurality ends up purchasing. They also said that they have yet to review a vehicle in this class (luxury CUV) that "really hits a home run", which suggests that they don't 'get' this kind of vehicle anyway. Both of the CR and Motorweek reviews make quite clear that they are not fans of the NX's styling ... a point of view which is bound to color their conclusions. Aging conservative automobile reviewers, however, need to get over themselves and recognize that the marketplace is the final arbiter of aesthetic issues. And, in this regard the new Lexus NX is clearly being vindicated.

John Goreham    September 8, 2015 - 3:56PM

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Sweet retort Bob. One thing is for certain; There is a huge divide between the general motor press and actual Lexus shoppers over the new styling of the Lexus vehicles. When the IS got the new look it was almost universally panned by the press (I am one exception). Sales Doubled. GS got the look. Same results. NX introduced - Almost immediately the top seller in the segment. RC introduced, exceeding sales goals.

Mark Day (not verified)    September 8, 2015 - 5:33PM

With the differing views of the NX I decided to take a test drive. I agree with just about all the negative findings of Consumer Reports with the exception of CR denigrating the interior furnishings. Example of agreement: "The very tight driving position is made worse by the claustrophobically small windows". My other observations: Having an F Sport version of the NX is beyond ridiculous and cheapens the F designation, also used for the RC F. Its standard, anemic, non-linier power output is embarrassing and annoying. The driving experience is one of appliance-like, no way luxurious or stirring. The engine belongs in a Pinto or Vega, and that's additionally reflected by a miniscule towing capacity of 2,000 lb. If this engine is the future of Lexus – I'll pass. There is more to the driving experience than fuel economy – especially at $45K.

Bob (not verified)    September 8, 2015 - 8:32PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

<<The engine belongs in a Pinto or Vega,..>>

Right there, you blew it. Most reviewers do like the new turbo four. Hyperbole didn't work for CR and it doesn't work here. It leads one to wonder if you actually test drove an NX.

Karthik (not verified)    December 18, 2015 - 5:06PM

I dont agree with this comment completely. I own this car and I do read about the cars a lot. I feel I made a great decision.Before I purchase this car I checked Audi,X3 and few more brands. Audi dont have any standard features like backup camera etc. I dont want to buy just a brand name for 40 grand. I can feel little negative points here are there but they are not really big. End of the day Lexus wont disappoint anyone with their quality and long life. I see many consumers given positive review about the car. I am not giving positive comments just because I am owning this but it is not as bad as what you have written.

Dandrea (not verified)    February 12, 2016 - 12:26AM

wow what a bad rap. The NX has its place. Bottom line CR is "wrong... Cant really go wrong at that level of refinement for 36k I dont think your gonna find that quality at that price point in many other models...I found the vehical did not to beat me up on the road. Exceptional seats..and driving dynamics push it and the true nature of the car come out more than what you would buyer remorse here.

MJ (not verified)    February 16, 2016 - 1:54PM

I have owned mine for 5 months. Not happy. The actual MPG is 10% to 20% below was is stated on the sticker. The touch pad is terrible. Even the dealers Technology expert acknowledge how bad it was after I bought it and he was doing the familiarization with me. The sound system is the worst I have had out of the last 5 cars I have owned. My 2011 pilot had a better nav system.

Arthur KEXANDER (not verified)    May 18, 2017 - 4:10PM

Night screen for navigation is unreadable. You cannot make the screen bright once you turn the headlights on. Navigation useless at night

John Goreham    May 18, 2017 - 6:13PM

In reply to by Arthur KEXANDER (not verified)

Hi Arthur. If that is a problem for you, try this. Menu - Settings - Display. One thing you can do in addition to adjusting the screen brightness at this menu location is to switch it to "Day Mode." Check out page 342 of the manual for more information. Here is a link you can cut and paste:

Mark Day (not verified)    May 18, 2017 - 6:32PM

Good info, John. Had the same low brightness problem with myTV, until checking all the many settings.
Computers in everything - AI next...

Truls Moen (not verified)    December 28, 2017 - 12:28AM

Awful vehicle. Way too small inside, the interior ergonomics are pitiful, the gas mileage on average is like 16 and the awd (all wheel drive system) is fawlty.