The present-generation NX won’t be lengthy for this world, but it surely’s nonetheless uniquely positioned as is.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

For 2021, Lexus hosted a key occasion of kinds for its 6-year-old NX compact crossover. Beforehand, you might get an NX hybrid and an NX F Sport, however you could not mix the 2. That makes the arrival of this NX 300h F Sport Black Line about as a lot of a shock as Monday following Sunday, although it is a special-edition mannequin restricted to 1,000 items. Even so, at its coronary heart, the most recent NX mashup is lots snug and competent.

Like

Sharper seems than normal hybridDarn first rate efficiencyComfortable in day by day use

Do not Like

Costly for an growing older vehicleCursed infotainment

Why cannot all of them seem like this?

Actually, the F Sport must be the NX’s de facto face. Not solely is that this mesh-style grille much more interesting than the usual one, the F Sport physique package provides some weight to the decrease entrance bumper, which has a reasonably aggressive upward angle on the common NX 300h and appears like any person forgot to attract in a chin. Throw in some F Sport-specific 18-inch alloy wheels and you have a stable looker, despite the fact that the NX has been round for a bit now.

It won’t carry the flashy seems of its newer, harder-edged Teutonic competitors, however the 2021 Lexus NX 300h F Sport’s inside continues to be a rattling superb place to spend time. Distinctive touches inside are restricted to contrasting blue stitching, a heated steering wheel and aluminum pedals, however there is no sense messing with success. The seats have very good cushioning and assist, and the middle console’s raised setup means glances take much less time away from the highway forward. It is a little bit old-school in that bodily switchgear completely dominates the NX’s inside, however the controls have good tactility and are useless easy to make use of with little or no distraction. Cubbies and stash spots abound, together with my favourite one, nestled simply forward of the middle armrest and coated by a small detachable self-importance mirror. The automotive world wants extra bizarre little touches like that, the place no person’s actually fairly positive why it is there. I imply, there’s nonetheless a mirror within the solar visor, so who’s it for? The again row?

Talking of, some compact crossovers select to sacrifice inside house within the title of aesthetics, however not the Lexus NX. It would not have the flat, wagon-ish roof of, say, a BMW X1, however my 6-foot body would not have any points within the again seats, and with virtually 43 inches of legroom, I undoubtedly have room to stretch the ol’ gams. For those who’re only one individual or have a small household, the NX’s 16.8 cubic toes of cargo house must be lots, though the hybrid system takes up a little bit of house, shrinking the entire capability down from 17.7 cubic toes in gas-only variants. Whereas that is extra storage than the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class can muster up, it falls effectively behind rivals just like the Audi Q3 (23.7 cubic toes) and BMW X1 (27.1 cubic toes).

Smoothness over sport

Lexus creates a number of the quietest, smoothest-driving automobiles within the luxurious section, and even its second-littlest crossover actually swings for the fences on this regard. Whereas F Sport fashions do acquire a sharper suspension, the NX Black Line continues to be among the many most snug automobiles within the section. No matter bumps aren’t dispatched by the dampers transmit little motion to the cabin, and in conventional Lexus style, there is a first rate quantity of sound-deadening materials all through the physique, maintaining most undesirable highway noises at bay. Gobs of pedal modulation make limo stops a breeze, and the steering turns the automotive, which I think about is the extent to which its future house owners care about that.

It is good that the brevity-averse 2021 Lexus NX 300h F Sport Black Line is a easy operator, as a result of it positive ain’t a fast one. Like all different NX hybrids, the Black Line will get its ahead movement from a 2.5-liter inline-four mated to Lexus’ hybrid {hardware} for a web 194 horsepower. It is a common outdated hybrid, not a plug-in, so its battery is proscribed to some miles of electric-only operation at sub-highway speeds, however leaving the NX in Eco mode actually places that nickel-metal hydride to work. On one suburban jaunt, with pace limits by no means eclipsing 40 mph, I ran largely on electrical energy for a number of dozen miles, leading to a powerful 45 mpg. That is an edge case, although — the EPA charges this NX variant at 33 mpg metropolis and 30 mpg freeway, which is OK for an electrified all-wheel-drive SUV, however I used to be in a position to beat each figures with little greater than a light-weight foot. The constantly variable transmission is so effectively tuned that I mainly overlook it exists, which is about all you’ll be able to ask for.

There are driving modes past Eco, despite the fact that that’s my clear favourite. Eco is all about effectivity, so throttle inputs are dulled and the powertrain does its greatest to be in its most economical vary always. Regular, the default mode, has a firmer throttle response that does a greater job of offering post-stoplight acceleration, but it surely eats into effectivity a bit. There is a Sport mode, too, however why hassle? Sure, the NX 300h F Sport does supply some semblance of sportiness, but it surely’s clear that the underlying Lexus nonetheless desires to be cool and picked up as typically as attainable. The Black Line additionally contains Lexus’ fake-engine-sound synthesizer, which fortunately has a correct Off setting.

Lexus’ leather-based recreation is on level. These seats are much more snug than they give the impression of being.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Out, damned touchpad, out, I say!

At some point, I will not have to write down about Lexus’ accursed infotainment system, which has been kicking round in numerous iterations for nearly a decade now. Its present methodology of manipulation, a touchpad on the middle console, stays as odd and unintuitive because the day it got here out, because the cursor “snaps” to varied elements of the display whereas your finger tracks alongside. It is laborious to control sitting nonetheless, nonetheless whereas driving.

An 8-inch display, which is what my tester has, is normal and it is superb, rocking the identical outdated aesthetic Lexus has relied on for years. A ten.3-inch display is offered on different trims, which provides navigation, but it surely’s not normal on the Black Line, regardless of it being the most costly NX variant out there. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nonetheless alongside for the experience it doesn’t matter what. Simply add contact functionality, for crying out loud, it is already out there on the LS. Who cares if you must transfer the display nearer so folks can really attain it? A second, smaller information show lives between the speedometer and energy supply gauge, relaying related details about tire pressures, gas economic system or the journey meter.

If there’s one nook of in-car tech that Lexus has down pat, it is security. All NX fashions come normal with the Lexus Security System Plus 2.0 array of passive and lively applied sciences. This bundle options lane-keeping help, forward-collision warning with computerized emergency braking, pedestrian and bicycle owner detection, lane-departure warning and full-speed adaptive cruise management. Blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors are included within the NX Black Line, as effectively. Guardian firm Toyota has had loads of time to refine these hands-on techniques, and it exhibits of their operation.

I can solely hope that the subsequent technology of NX eliminates this touchpad as soon as and for all. 

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

All the way down to brass tacks

In its press supplies, Lexus says the NX Black Line prioritizes its prospects’ want for “unique styling and worth,” however the latter declare is iffy, on condition that it is the most costly variant by base value, beginning at $47,835 together with vacation spot. My tester rings in at $48,745 with some fripperies like door edge guards and illuminated doorsills, which is kind of the tablet to swallow for a compact luxurious crossover that is due for a alternative. However in context, it is about on par with its rivals, all of which supply related base costs and related possibilities to load the vehicles as much as excessive heaven with all method of choices.

The 2021 Lexus NX 300h F Sport Black Line’s hybrid powertrain and concentrate on correct old-school luxurious assist set it other than the group. If what you are after is consolation and effectivity, you would be hard-pressed to discover a higher match within the compact SUV section.  

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