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Review: 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport AWD

by Paul Strauss
Review: 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport AWDzoom in

    2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport AWD

  • Powertrain: 2.0L, 235hp turbo 4-cyl, 6-speed automatic transmission
  • 0-to-60 Time (secs): 7.2
  • Top Speed (mph): 124
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 22/27 (24 combined)
  • Curb Weight (lb): 4,050
  • Wheelbase (in): 104.7
  • Total Length (in): 182.3
  • Width (in): 73.6 (mirrors folded) / 83.9
  • Base Price (USD): $37,980
  • Price as Tested (USD): $45,313

For the past week, I’ve been truly enjoying my time driving in the new Lexus NX 200t. The NX represents the company’s first entry into the compact SUV market, and I think they’ve got a winner on their hands here. Outside, the NX offers dramatic lines which give it a tremendous sense of fluidity, pushed even further when covered in the liquid metal sheen of Atomic Silver paint.

The F Sport variant of the NX rides on bright two-tone 18″ alloys, wrapped in all-season tires. It sports an aggressive version of Lexus’ trademark spindle grille, surrounded by sharp LED running lights and angular headlamps, which happen to not only look great, but output a tremendous amount of bright, white light for great nighttime visibility.

Under the hood, you’ll find a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged, 16-valve DOHC engine that pushes out 235 horses, and 258 lb-ft. of torque. Mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic with sport paddles, it’ll take you from 0-to-60 in 7.2 seconds, putting it on par with the Range Rover Evoque, a vehicle that I consider to be the best and most sporty in this class. Acceleration is smooth and ample whether launching down an on-ramp or passing on the highway. And while there’s not much in the way of an exhaust note, the F Sport model offers up something called “Active Sound Control” – which is basically a volume knob which adjusts how much engine sound is amplified through the stereo’s speakers. It’s a bit superfluous, but at least you can turn it down if you don’t care for artificially augmented exhaust notes.

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Where the NX200t really shines is in the handling department. Despite weighing 4,000 lbs. and offering the benefits of a small SUV, it handles like a car. Body roll is minimal, and the electric power steering response is exceptional, offering just the right amount of weight, and quickness going into turns. The dynamic all-wheel drive system also helps provide added confidence, adjusting the amount of torque going to front and rear wheels as needed. There’s also the ability to lock the AWD system for increased torque at low speeds if you need to dig out of snow, mud or sand for instance.

I’m also quite impressed with the sport-tuned suspension system which comes with the F Sport package. This provides a ride characteristic which isn’t harsh, but well controlled, and comfortable without being mushy. In addition, the cabin is whisper quiet, with virtually no road noise.

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Speaking of the cabin, it’s got a similarly angular, high-tech feel that’s very cohesive with the exterior. Controls are well placed and intuitive, and the materials have an appealing design aesthetic. That said, I was hoping for more premium materials. Sure, there are soft-touch surfaces and stitching on the dash, doors and seats, but they’re made from NuLuxe, a synthetic material and not real leather. With the exception of the leather-wrapped steering wheel and aluminum sport pedals, almost every other surface is made from some form of plastic – even the metallic ones. That said, the interior looks very put together and stylish. I just wish they went with real aluminum and leather throughout. Keep in mind that if you opt for the Luxury package instead, you can step up to leather and wood trim, but you sacrifice the sport features.

Storage is good, with large in-door bins, and a center console armrest bin, which houses a wireless Qi charging dock if you opt for it. One feature that left me a little puzzled was the horizontal slot above the radio controls. It’s not deep enough to hold a smartphone, so I’m not sure what they expected that you’d put there. There’s also a fun little feature in the center console – a coin compartment with a lid that lifts off to reveal a compact mirror – in case you need to check your makeup.

The cabin is quite comfortable, with 10-way power seats up front offering good lumbar support, and a commanding driving position that’s good for even tall drivers. The optional heated seats and heated steering wheel are a must for cold Midwest winters. Rear seat passengers can enjoy good leg room too thanks to intelligently designed seat backs on the front seats. Head room is good too, though the cabin doesn’t feel as bright and airy as some of its competitors which offer a panoramic moonroof option. Lexus only offers the NX with a regular-size power moonroof.

In addition to Lexus’ infotainment and navigation system, available technology in the NX includes a backup camera with steering path guidelines, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and tilting mirrors when reversing. The F Sport model also gets something usually reserved for sports cars – G-Force and Turbocharging gauges which can be displayed on the dashboard’s 4.2″ LCD screen. As has been my experience with Toyota and Lexus vehicles over the past couple of years, the 10-speaker premium audio system is excellent, offering plentiful, distortion-free volume, good low-end punch, and a great surround effect.

Cargo capacity is a car-like 17.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, though there’s the ability to fold those seats in a 60/40 split arrangement for flexibility and a total of 54.6 cubic feet if needed.

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The bottom line is that the NX 200t is a great SUV if you enjoy driving. It may not dominate the competition in terms of cargo space, but it looks great, and drives even better. It handles brilliantly, and offers plenty of power for its size.

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