2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Review – Lexus builds some of the most popular luxury cars sold in America. Topping the list, the Lexus RX ranks among Premium SUVs, while the smaller and more affordable Lexus NX ranks fifth in sales in 2018. There is fierce competition in the NX price and size class. In addition to the Lexus, the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class are all grouped into the annual sales bracket of between 60,000 and 70,000 units. Each of them, except BMW, is more popular than the NX.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Review
For the 2020 model year, Lexus gives compact Premium SUV buyers several reasons to choose the NX. The company’s next-generation Lexus Safety System 2.0 (LSS 2.0) driving assistance and collision avoidance technology is standard, and NX is available with a Premium Mark Levinson audio system for the first time. Lexus added Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility to the NX during the 2019 model year.
For this review, J.D. evaluated Power a 2020 Lexus NX 300 F front-wheel drive sport. It was equipped with Premium and navigation packages, as well as parking assist sensors, a Power tailgate, an auto-damping rearview mirror, a Cargo mat rug, a rear bumper protector, forged aluminum wheels with wheel locks, and remote key gloves. With the $ 1,025 destination fee, the price came to $ 47,564. All wheel drives would have added another $ 1,400 to match.
What the owners say …
Before discussing the results of our evaluation of the Lexus NX, it is helpful to understand who is buying this compact Premium SUV and what they like most and least about their vehicles.
This SUV is popular with women. J.D. Power data shows that 57% of Lexus NX owners are women, compared to 43% of all Compact Premium SUVs. Lexus NX owners enjoy a median annual household income of $ 133,108 (vs. $ 167,283), with 35% identifying as practical buyers, followed by 30% who are performance buyers.
Lexus NX owners are a bit younger than a typical compact Premium SUV buyer, with a median age of 57 (vs. 59 for the segment). In particular, 24% of Lexus NX owners identify as members of Generation Y and Z. At the segment level, only 14% do.
Surprisingly, 35% of Lexus NX owners claim that they prefer to buy a vehicle from a domestic company (vs. 27% for the segment). This preference, however, is clearly overridden by a strong consensus that their first consideration in choosing a vehicle is reliability (72% vs 58%), followed by strong agreement that they avoid vehicles they believe will have high maintenance costs (64 % vs. 46%).
Similarly, 61% of Lexus NX owners agree that a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle is miles per gallon (vs. 44%). But at the same time, Lexus NX owners are only moderately more likely to accept that they are willing to pay more for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly (63% vs. 58%). For reference, Lexus charges $ 2,350 more for the NX 300h hybrid compared to a standard NX 300.
Performance is not that important to Lexus NX owners. Nevertheless, 90% agreed that they would like a vehicle with responsive handling and strong acceleration (vs. 94% for the segment). Also, as expressive as the Lexus NX styling is, 35% of owners agree that a vehicle is just a way to get from place to place (vs. 26%).
Buyers say their favorite thing about the NX is (in descending order) the seats, exterior styling, driving dynamics, interior design, and engine / transmission. Buyers state their least favorite thing about the NX is (in descending order) the climate control system, visibility and safety, storage and space, the infotainment system, and fuel economy.
In the following sections, our expert gives his own view of how Lexus NX measures up in each of the 10 categories that include the 2018 APEAL study.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Exterior
A glance at the 2020 NX identifies this SUV as a Lexus. From the milled spindle-shaped grille and L-shaped daytime running lights to the angled Lines and tapered taillights, the NX is a rolling showcase of modern Lexus design signals.
In atomic silver with optional 18-inch forged aluminum wheels, the NX 300 F sport proved appealing. Note that the NX comes with scratch-resistant paint, an exceptionally fun fact about this SUV.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Interior
Lexus says the NX 300 F Sport has a “race-inspired” interior. It’s up to you to decide. But know that the Arctic white NuLuxe simulated leather looks and feels amazing. You don’t want to miss real kowhides.
Materials are, for the most part, worthy of the Lexus NX price tag. Note that there is a removable vanity mirror built into the center console, another exceptionally fun fact about this SUV. Maybe that’s considering the car’s primary buyers?
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Place
Lexus gives the NX a spacious interior. The F sport trim level front seats are snug but comfortable, especially when the SUV is equipped with the available seat ventilation system.
Rear seat accommodation is surprisingly spacious in terms of leg and foot space, and the rear seat leans for napping. Lexus provides Air conditioning vents for rear passengers, but not USB charging ports.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Climate control system
Partly because the climate controls are separate from the stressful Remote touchpad infotainment interface, they work well and the system quickly heats or cools the cabin. You can adjust the temperature setting through the impressive voice recognition system.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Infotainment system
The good news is that with voice recognition system, controls for adjusting stereo volume and tuning staging, separate climate control, and access to driver assistance technologies through instrumentation, your interaction with the Lexus NX infotainment system display is limited.
The bad news is that the Lexus Remote touchpad interface remains detestable. The problem is twofold. First, accuracy is lacking. Second, because it lacks accuracy, it becomes a distraction as the driver tries to correct inputs. My advice is to go through the owner’s manual, create the infotainment system’s settings for your preferences, and then limit your interaction as much as possible.
Highlights of the infotainment system include an available 10.3-inch split-screen capability, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa and Lexus Enormous Wi-Fi with a free trial of 1 year / 4 GB. Additional Lexus enform services are available, too, and the system is SmartWatch compatible.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Storage and space
According to Lexus, the NX only provides 17.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. That’s not much for an SUV, and the reality is that you won’t spend more than 13.3 cubes unless you regularly pack the trunk for the roof. Maximum volume with the rear seat folded down measures 54.6 cu.-ft., which is similarly sub-dimensioned.
In the cabin, it is difficult to find practical storage space. Except for the glove compartment and the middle storage bin under the armrest, it is limited.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Visibility and security
Relatively thin windshield columns, door-mounted exterior mirrors and front quarter window glass all contribute to excellent forward visibility. Add the available front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alarm, and top-down surround-view camera, and it’s easy to maneuver a Lexus NX.
For 2020, the Lexus Safety System 2.0 is standard. It adds low-light pedestrian detection, daytime cyclist detection, Road Sign recognition, and Lane Centering Assist systems to the company’s previous suite of Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS).
In use, LSS 2.0 works with refinement and precision. Distance maintenance is smooth rather than inconsistent, the technology responds to changes in traffic ahead in a gradual rather than sudden fashion, and the new Lane-centering technology operates in a subtle way. As a result, a driver is encouraged to use LSS 2.0 features instead of turning them off.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the 2020 Lexus NX, but in 2019 the SUV earned top marks across the board. It was not eligible for a “Top safety pick” rating because the IIHS had not assessed small overlap, passenger side protection levels.
In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) test, the 2020 NX earns a 5-star overall crash Protection rating.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Engine / Transmission
A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard in the Lexus NX 300. It makes 235 horsepower and 258 lb.ft. of torque delivered to the front or all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Lexus says the NX 300 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds.
This engine is perfectly mated to this SUV. It feels faster than the alleged acceleration time suggests and sounds good as it gathers speed. The 6-speed automatic is delightful, shifting imperceptibly in urban situations, while delivering fast, crucial gear changes as you drive NX with enthusiasm.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Fuel economy
According to the EPA, the Lexus NX 300 with front-wheel drive should get 25 mpg in combined driving. My test vehicle returned 23.1 MPG, a result reflective of driving the SUV up a mountain in sport mode while using the transmission steering wheel shift paddles.
Based on the test result and the SUV’s 15.9-gallon fuel tank, NX owners can expect to travel 367 miles between visits to the gas station.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Driving dynamics
Optimistically, the NX 300 F Sport’s instrumentation includes driver information displays related to performance data, maximum g-Force, and turbocharger Boost. This SUV may see Racy, but it really isn’t this kind of a vehicle.
However, driving within certain constraints is rewarding.
In the city, NX Road filters anomalies for a smoother and quieter ride. On the highway, this SUV is also pretty hushed. On winding roads, it grips and sticks better than expected, but understeer arrives fairly early and tests the vehicle’s performance rubber howls more than is preferred.
Believe it or not, you can cramp NX F sports. However, knowing that it responds best to smooth is considered driver input. Run hard in a misguided effort to score maximum performance data numbers, and this Lexus is less satisfactory. But this is in line with the mission of this vehicle.
The steering feels heavier in sport mode, but regardless of driving mode, it feels consistently weighted throughout the range of motion. I can’t complain about any lack of sharpness or accuracy, but the thick-rimmed steering wheel isn’t a scalpel in your hands, either.
During a penalty run down a mountain road, the brakes do not fade despite sunny weather and temperature of about 70 degrees. Like the NX steering, the brake pedal is the feel and reaction perfect for the average person, proving exceptionally easy to modulate for smooth, unobstructed driving. For an enthusiast driver, there is not an abundance of bites here.
It is worth noting that an adaptive variable suspension is optional for the Lexus NX. However, the test vehicle did not include this upgrade.
There is much to like about the 2020 Lexus NX. Aside from its small cargo area and frustrating Remote track pad infotainment system interface, it is a comfortable, safe, quiet, and rewarding vehicle to drive. Add the automaker’s reputation for reliability, and it’s easy to understand why the Lexus NX is one of the most popular luxury cars in America.