While some people might say that the design of the Lexus NX is “polarizing,” that isn’t entirely descriptive.
That is, when something is referred to as being polarizing it generally means that there are those who like it and those who don’t. Binary.
But there is at least a third option when it comes to the NX, which is that there are those who just don’t understand what’s going on with that compact crossover. There isn’t love or hate going on here. Just a bit of head-scratching confusion.
And that probably has something to do with demographics more than anything else.
Although there are those who will quibble, the Lexus brand is a luxury marque.
Mercedes. . .BMW. . .Lexus.
It fits in a way that Cadillac and Lincoln want to. The way that Infiniti doesn’t quite and that Acura is still wishing to.
That established, take a look at the NX straight on:
Its maw is aggressive. In-your-face. It is all the more striking because of the overall compact proportions of the vehicle: It is outsized.
Generally speaking, with few exceptions, luxury vehicles tend to be more visually staid.
So what the heck is going on with this?
Here’s a crossover from the company that essentially invented the category with the RX, the crossover that, has been at the top of the charts since 1998. 1998. Seventeen years. If it was a person, it could have a driver’s license.
But the RX has always been something that is stylish in a most-reserved manner.
So what the heck is going on with the NX?
It is meant to reach a new buyer, a younger buyer, a buyer who truly seeks things that are more overt.
And what else is there in the market that can stand as expressively while, at the same time, providing the utility that a crossover provides?
Nothing I can think of.
GLK? Nope. X3. Sorry. Cadillac still doesn’t have anything in this space. The Lincoln MKC seems to be of another category entirely.
Some people will love the NX. Some people will not. And some people will shake their heads in wonder.
But it seems as though the middle category—consisting of those who find it appealing—are doing what Lexus wants them to do, which is to buy it.
In June there were 3,505 NXs sold. From January to June, 20,049.
This means the NX is the fourth best-selling vehicle in the Lexus lineup, after the RX, ES, and IS (and given that the IS June sales were 3,821, it’s not like the NX is way behind).
And it isn’t like Lexus is giving them away.
The MSRP for the NX 200t F Sport is $37,980. The vehicle as-driven was optioned up to $44,289, and that’s before the $925 handling. It stickered at $45,214. Not cheap.
(A quibble is that there are a few options that ought to be standard. Like the Homelink garage door opener for $125. Really? That couldn’t have been buried in the MSRP? Or a $400 powered back door? We are talking Lexus, aren’t we?)
I could point out things like the fact that this is the first turbocharged Lexus. Or that it is really quite maneuverable as one pilots it through the urban environment.
But before any of that becomes relevant, it is a matter of getting into the NX, behind the wheel of the crossover.
And that brings us back to the issue of how the car looks.
Like that and you’ll like driving it. Don’t and you’ll not know.
Engine: 2.0-liter, twin-scroll turbocharged inline 4
Material: Aluminum block and head
Horsepower: 235 @ 4,800 to 5,600 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,650 to 4,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Steering: Electric power
Wheelbase: 104.7 in.
Length: 182.3 in.
Width 73.6 in.
Height: 64.8 in.
Cargo volume (rear seat up): 17.7 cu. ft.
Curb weight: 3,940 lb.
EPA fuel economy: city/highway/combined: 22/27/24 mpg