Autos

Revealed: The Lexus Compact Crossover for 2015

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When Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Lexus division showed the world its compact crossover concept last year, the automaker presented an image of extreme aggression tempered by luxury appointments. In the 2015 Lexus NX production model set to debut in Beijing on April 20, the luxury brand will deliver a final product with toned-down styling for the first compact crossover in the company’s history.

Showcasing the Lexus spindle grille with the fine webbing of the concept model, the 2015 NX delivers a less striking appearance than the LF-NX concept featured in the Frankfurt and Tokyo auto shows of 2013. Three models will arrive worldwide with their first appearance coming April 20 at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, Lexus said in a company statement. U.S. consumers will get the NX 200t, the first turbo model in its lineup, as well as the hybrid NX 300h and the NX 200t F Sport.

Lexus exterior designers allowed the brand’s first compact crossover to absorb the influence of the dynamic LF-NX concept without bottling the model’s ferocity for widepread consumption. The 2015 NX production models present a low, wide stamce with the roof’s peak set toward the back for added passenger comfort. In compact utility vehicles, the tradeoff in efficiency must maintain a balance with interior spaciousness.

Under the hood, the 2015 NX 200t will pack a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, while a naturally aspirated model will go on sale to consumers overseas. U.S. consumers will have the hybrid 300h as an option when the new utility vehicles hit American shores later in the year. Lexus has positioned this new lineup somewhere “below the RX,” which hints at possile price points.

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Lexus RX crossovers range from $40,795 in the base RX 350 model to $47,445 in the hybrid RX 450h and $48,535 in the RX 350 F Sport. All come with a V6 engine, which delivers 270 horsespower in the standard models and 295 hp in the hybrid when combined with an electric motor. Highway efficiency ratings range from 24 mpg in the RX 350 to 30 mpg in the hybrid.

For the 2015 NX line, Lexus will price its compact crossovers lower, putting them at a starting MSRP in the low $30K range. Details on specific engine types and pricing will follow when the automaker brings its roadshow to Beijing beginning April 20.

Compact crossovers are wildly popular in the U.S., which gives every luxury automaker an opportunity to snatch market share by appealing to the upper end of the market. Lexus will have plenty of company. The Audi (VLKAY.PK) Q3 and Mercedes (DDAIF.PK) are just two examples of new entries in this burgeoning segment below $35,000.