While some competitors are more fun to drive, Lexus’ smallest crossover delivers plenty of passenger space and a cabin that’s built with premium materials. The 2016 Lexus NX 200t also represents a strong value among luxury compact SUVs, with a low base price and a strong list of standard features.
The Lexus NX 200t is a luxury compact SUV that was first introduced for the 2015 model year. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard, and paired with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The NX 200t is offered in one trim level, though a hybrid version is available and marketed separately. Changes are few for 2016, though NX shoppers are offered a few new color choices and Lexus Enform services that provide improved smartphone connectivity.
Lexus’ spindle grille makes the NX instantly recognizable from the front, with a face that shares design elements with the midsize Lexus RX 350. Still, some styling is unique, including the L-shaped daytime running lights that sit just below the headlight assemblies.
From the sides, aggressive body sculpting with sharp creases enhances a rising beltline, providing a sense of forward motion. A spoiler and dual exhaust ports are at the rear, where the liftgate’s sheet metal has been massaged to mimic the spindle grille at the front end.
The base NX 200t comes with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights and tinted rear windows, as well as LED headlights, taillights and fog lights. A power liftgate, moonroof and 18-inch wheels are optional, while an available F Sport package brings in a sportier front bumper, F Sport badging and unique 18-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires.
In typical Lexus fashion, the NX 200t’s interior exhibits impressive fit and finish and high-quality materials. A tall center console provides a notable separation between the driver and front passenger, and the standard leatherette (NuLuxe) upholstery feels just as nice as high-quality leather.
While the driver’s seat could be a little more supportive, passenger space is quite good with plenty of headroom and legroom in both rows. Cargo space, however, is a little underwhelming with 17.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row. Folding those seats opens up a more useful 54.6 cubic feet of room, but competitors like the Volvo XC60 and Acura RDX offer significantly more cargo space overall.
Every Lexus NX comes standard with interior features that include power-adjustable front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Comfort-enhancing options like heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and power-folding rear seats are available.
The Lexus NX 200t comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
Regardless of whether you choose front- or all-wheel drive, the NX 200t gets an EPA-estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway. Choosing the available F Sport package results in slightly lower estimates of 22/27 mpg.
The NX’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides plenty of power in most driving situations, with just a little bit of lag when it’s called upon for additional passing power at highway speeds.
As expected of a Lexus, the ride is quiet and composed, but the NX feels fairly unwieldy for a luxury compact SUV. There’s a bit of float over larger road imperfections, and while the NX is generally controlled, there’s a fair amount of body lean during more spirited drives on winding roads. Competitors like the Acura RDX and Audi Q5 ultimately feel a little more rewarding to drive.
The NX’s standard technology features include Apple iPhone integration with Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, satellite radio, an eight-speaker audio system and a 7-inch display.
Our test NX 200t included navigation, which is part of a package that upgrades the audio system and adds an app suite that provides integration with smartphone apps like Yelp, Pandora and iHeartRadio. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface was also included, which allows access to infotainment settings through a touch pad on the center console.
The touch pad provides mouselike functionality that’s similar to what you’ll find with a laptop computer, allowing you to make on-screen selections at the press of a fingertip. However, we found that Remote Touch requires a little too much attention while driving, particularly with less frequent functions like scrolling through phonebook entries. Thankfully, the NX offers dedicated buttons for climate settings and most primary audio functions.
The 2016 Lexus NX performed well in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), earning top scores of Good in all crashworthiness categories. The NX also received an Advanced rating for front crash prevention when equipped with an optional forward collision warning system. As a result, the NX received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the NX received a top score of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests.
All Lexus NX SUVs come with a rearview camera and a telematics system (Lexus Enform Safety Connect) that provides emergency assistance, automatic crash notification and a stolen vehicle locator. Available driver-assistance features include lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning with automatic braking.
The 2016 Lexus NX 200t starts at $34,965 plus a $950 destination charge. That base price is lower than what you’ll find with a number of compact luxury crossovers, and includes a competitive list of standard features. That said, SUVs like the Lincoln MKC, Infiniti QX50 and Acura RDX are all within $1,000 of the NX’s starting price.
Our test Lexus NX was a front-wheel drive model that included standalone options like a Qi wireless smartphone charger ($220), auto-dimming rearview mirror and HomeLink garage door opener ($125), auto-dimming sideview mirrors with blind spot monitoring ($660) and front and rear parking sensors ($500). The Navigation package ($1,875) and a Premium package ($2,890) that brought in 18-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, a moonroof and LED daytime running lights were also included. After destination, our NX 200t carried a suggested price of $42,075.
While it may not be as sporty as its compact dimensions suggest, the NX 200t should appeal to a number of shoppers who are in the market for an entry-level luxury crossover. It’s well-equipped and competitively priced, with a luxurious cabin and more back-seat space than many small SUVs in the segment. Outstanding safety scores and Lexus’ reputation for reliability only sweeten the deal.