All-wheel drive system didn’t perform up to par.
With the 2018 Lexus NX 300 you’re getting a small luxury crossover with mini-RX 350 styling. In addition, the NX 300 is a comfortable, around-town commuter. Buyers will enjoy plush seating, a quiet interior, and a suitably powerful, turbocharged fuel-efficient engine.
This week, we drove the 2018 Lexus NX 300. Here is what we found during out test drive.
What’s New For 2018
Lexus renamed its NX 200t the NX 300 for 2018. Mechanically, nothing has changed, but Lexus has made the Safety System+ package, which includes front collision mitigation, lane departure alert, high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control standard.
The NX 300 also gains an updated infotainment system with a bigger display, and a 30 percent larger Remote Touch Interface pad.
Features & Options
The 2018 Lexus NX 300 ($37,385) comes standard with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, fog lights and running lights, keyless ignition and entry, automatic dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, and simulated-leather upholstery (Lexus’ NuLuxe). There is a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat, eight-inch infotainment display and touchpad interface, and an eight-speaker sound system.
Also included is adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning and intervention, and automatic high beams.
With the 2018 @Lexus NX 300 you’re getting a small luxury crossover with mini-RX 350 styling.
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Luxury & Navigation Packages
The Luxury package ($4,705) adds automatic wipers, a heated steering wheel and leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats and blind-spot monitoring, 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, driver’s-seat memory settings, and a power-adjustable steering wheel.
The Navigation package ($1,800) features a larger 10.3-inch screen and a premium sound system. Other options include a panoramic view backup camera and triple-beam LED headlights.
Total MSRP, including destination, for our 2018 Lexus NX 300: $49,068. By comparison, a 2019 model starts at $36,385 with front-wheel drive; $37,785 with all-wheel drive.
Interior Highlights: Really Nice But Not Perfect
The NX 300 interior is the strong point with a level of craftsmanship not typically found in smaller crossovers. The two-tone leather interior, with Dark Umber trim and light stitching, is stylish and attractive. We especially like the heated seats and steering wheel, which take the chill out of the cold mornings we’ve been having recently.
The darkest cloud is cast by the frustrating and ill-conceived Remote Touch infotainment controller. We found it hard to use and a bit finicky to the touch. It is one of our least favorite things about the 2018 Lexus NX 300.
The leather seats in front and back are noticeably soft and extremely comfortable. The seats aren’t elevated like in other crossovers, which increases headroom and gives occupants the unique sensation and feeling like they’re riding in a typical sedan.
There’s lots of legroom and headroom in the back and the NX feels bigger than it is. Lexus gave rear passengers plenty of room, but took it away from the cargo area. There’s 17.7 cubic feet which falls short of the competition. A drawback is how the rear cargo space is limited due to the steeply sloped rear window.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2018 Lexus NX 300 comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, producing an ample 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. It’s mated with a six-speed automatic. Our tester had all-wheel drive, nice for the winter time. Although, we didn’t feel the all-wheel drive system was really up to par on our test drive.
EPA fuel mileage estimates are 22/28 city/highway and 24 combined mpg. When compared to some possible competitors, the 2018 Lexus NX 300 holds its own in terms of fuel efficiency.
Driving Dynamics: Steady & Simple
In terms of performance and driver engagement, the 2018 Lexus NX 300 is merely average among the current crop of luxury crossovers, especially from Europe. But if you are looking for something easy-to-drive, the NX 300 makes a great city commuter. It’s the perfect size to navigate narrow streets and tight parking spots.
The NX leaned a bit in the tight mountain curves near Evergreen, but it’s predictable and poised on the open highway. Driving enthusiasts who value better handling will want the more athletic F Sport option.
However, as an everyday commuter, the 2018 Lexus NX 300 places few demands on the driver and provides a calm, comfortable cabin.
Related: The 2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport will satisfy the performance-minded.
The 2018 @Lexus NX 300 places few demands on the driver and provides a calm, comfortable cabin.
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Conclusion: A Good Alternative
The 2018 Lexus NX 300 looks a little different than other crossovers because it is. The exterior styling won’t appeal to everyone but once you step inside, however, the cabin will win you over. There’s extra attention to detail, luxury treatments, and the quality is there.
The NX 300 is a good alternative to other cookie-cutter crossovers.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
2018 Lexus NX 300 Galley
Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
*Hybrid and F Sport Models shown.