A full used buyer’s guide on the Lexus NX covering the NX Mk1 (2015-date)
Compact SUVs have become extremely popular in the UK in recent years, with a whole raft of car makers entering the fray. One of the slightly left-field options is the Lexus NX, which stands out from the crowd and almost always comes with hybrid technology, which allows it to offer excellent performance with decent fuel economy.
When the NX 300h arrived in 2014 it offered a 2.5-litre petrol engine backed up by an electric motor. The result was a combined output of 195bhp, yet CO2 emissions were pegged at just 116g/km, while 56mpg was officially within reach.
Changes to economy-testing methods have seen those figures become less impressive, but that doesn’t stop the Lexus from providing an intriguing and unique proposition in a crowded segment.
- Lexus NX Mk1 (2015-date) – With sharp styling, a classy, well built cabin and masses of goodies fitted as standard, the NX could be all the premium compact SUV you’ll ever need.
The Lexus NX arrived in the UK in October 2014, priced from £29,945. That was for the front-wheel-drive NX 300h S, which was offered alongside the all-wheel-drive SE, Luxury, F Sport and Premier.
By March 2015 the petrol/electric hybrid NX 300h had been joined by the 235bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol-engined NX 200t, in all-wheel-drive F Sport trim.
Car group tests
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- Lexus NX review
- Long-term test review: Lexus NX 300h
- Lexus NX 300h 2017 facelift review
- Lexus NX 200t F-Sport review
- Lexus NX 300h hybrid review
A facelifted NX went on sale in November 2017, with updated exterior styling and recalibrated suspension; six months later a Sport edition joined the range.
The NX line-up was cut down to just NX trim plus F Sport and Takumi editions in January 2019, with option packs available on the NX and F Sport. A Premium Sport trim was added in February 2020.
Which one should I buy?
The chances are that you’ll buy an NX 300h because the NX 200t is incredibly rare, so it’s just a question of picking your colour and a trim level. Lexus always packs its cars with kit, and the NX is no different. Even the entry-level S comes with dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, 17-inch alloys, an eight-speaker hi-fi, DAB radio, electric folding door mirrors, LED headlights and Drive Mode Select.
The SE adds all-wheel drive, automatic wipers and heated front seats, while the Luxury brings privacy glass, parking sensors and electric adjustment for the front seats. The F Sport gets racier styling inside and out (including sports seats), firmer suspension and an electrically operated tailgate.
The range-topping Premier features an upgraded hi-fi, heated and ventilated front seats, premium navigation, around-view cameras, a heated steering wheel and additional driver-assistance systems.
Alternatives to the Lexus NX
As a mid-sized SUV, the Lexus NX is pitched squarely against a raft of higher-profile and very capable rivals. However, these are generally powered by petrol or diesel engines; in the segment there have been few hybrid options until recently, when plug-ins have become more commonplace.
If you want striking looks, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio might suit, while the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC offer high quality, user-friendly cabins and some efficient engines.
The Range Rover Evoque is very easy to like with its tidy on-road manners and classy cabin, while the similarly sized Land Rover Discovery Sport offers seven seats. The Jaguar F-Pace is another desirable mid-sized SUV, as is the Volvo XC60, which is every bit as safe as you’d expect.
What to look for
All NXs come with 18-inch wheels apart from the S, which consequently has a ride that’s less harsh thanks to its small alloys.
From September 2020 all NXs came with intelligent parking sensors, which automatically apply the brakes if the car is likely to hit something.
Unlike many of its rivals, the NX comes with a spare wheel. It’s only a space saver, but it’s more useful than a foam tyre mobility kit.
The most you can pull with any variant of the NX is 1,500kg, but the front-wheel-drive models aren’t suitable for towing anything at all.
The NX’s interior is crammed with kit and premium materials, while the fit and finish are superb, but it’s a bit over-designed in places so takes some getting used to. Front-seat comfort is excellent and there’s room for three in the back, although the slightly raised seat does reduce headroom.
The fitment of a spare wheel (and the hybrid’s batteries) means boot space is slightly below the class average, although the NX 200t has slightly more luggage space, at 500/1,545 litres. The touchpad controls won’t be to everyone’s liking, and the infotainment menu layout is far from the most intuitive on the market.
All NXs need to be serviced annually or every 12,000 miles, with services alternating between minor and major. Buy a hybrid NX and there’s no difference in routine maintenance costs between the front- and all-wheel-drive editions, with the minor (oil change) service set at £280 and the major at £445-£675. The two most expensive services are due at 60,000 and 100,000 miles.
Meanwhile the cost of an NX 200t minor service is £290, with the major service pegged at £470-£625; that latter price is what you can generally expect to pay for a major service on the NX 200t as only the one at 20,000 miles is priced at £470. At least all NX engines are chain-driven so there are no cambelts to replace, and that chain is designed to last the lifetime of the engine.
The Lexus NX has been recalled three times so far – not catastrophic by any means, but more than some might expect given its maker’s reputation.
The first recall was issued in July 2015 and affected 25 cars built between December 2014 and March 2015, which were fitted with faulty hardware that could lead to the anti-lock brakes, traction control and ESP failing to work properly. In March 2017, Lexus recalled 9,113 NX 200ts and NX 300hs, because faulty electronic parking brake software had been installed on cars made between March 2014 and December 2016.
Defective fuel pumps on most of the Lexus range led to 6,787 cars being recalled in October 2020. This affected NX 200ts built between Oct 2017 and Oct 2018.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The Lexus NX has racked up several impressive scores in our Driver Power new car surveys. The NX made its Driver Power debut in 2015, in sixth place; in 2016 it came 17th, then 15th in 2017, sixth again in 2018, 26th in 2019, then 42nd in 2020. In that latest survey owners rated the NX’s cabin quality, seat comfort, safety kit and reliability. They didn’t like the infotainment, ergonomics or the running costs so much.
The NX is everything that you’d want from a Lexus. It’s well equipped, safe, reliable, efficient and very distinctive. It’s also not much fun to drive, and relatively unusual when compared with some of the more obvious alternatives mentioned above. However, the NX isn’t as rare as you might think, with a surprisingly large number on the used market; most feature all-wheel drive, although some are front-wheel drive. With the NX 200t incredibly rare, your only real powertrain choice is the hybrid and, while there’s a lot to like about it, make sure it fits in with your driving style, or fuel costs could be much higher than you expect.
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