Trucks & SUVs

Critics Aren’t Sold on the 2020 Lexus NX 300h

The SUV market is exploding with tons of choices from many automakers. Some of these companies, like Audi and even Cadillac, are vying to produce the best of the best in their segment. 

 The subcompact luxury crossover market has only one choice for a hybrid, though, and that’s the new Lexus NX 300h. One reviewer, from MotorTrend, offers his take on this newer hybrid and explains why he wasn’t impressed with it.

Overview of the Lexus NX 300h

A new Lexus NX 300h on display at an auto show
A Lexus NX 300h at an auto show | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Lexus NX 300h is a hybrid version of the regular NX vehicle. Built from the same structure as the non-hybrid, the 300h has all the standard amenities you expect with a hybrid SUV. It’s a five-passenger SUV with an AWD drivetrain. 

It’s powered by a 2.5-liter Atkinson style inline-four engine coupled with front and rear electric motors. Taking on the job of shifting gears is a CVT automatic transmission.

Its fuel economy falls short of its rivals, but it can still pull out 30 mpg on the highway with the front-wheel-drive version. Car and Driver tested it and could get 29 highway mpg. But city driving is where a hybrid will shine, and the NX 300h clocks 33 mpg when driving around town. 

Where does the NX 300h fall short?

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A lot of the problems that the MotorTrend author had with the Lexus NX 300h was with the interior of the vehicle. The dash materials with their leatherette look were nice, but they felt cheap. The center console was just alright. It would’ve been better without the exposed steel bolts glaring at you on both sides of the console. 

The mouse pad used with the infotainment system wasn’t as sensitive as it could be to your touch. Choosing the options you want with it can be extremely frustrating. Also, the cargo area was too small, especially when you compare it to some of its rivals. The Acura RDX, for example, has 29.5 cubic feet of space to store your items. The Lexus hybrid offers a whole 16.8 cubic feet. 

Performance is another area where it disappoints. The Lexus has a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder gas engine that only puts out 154 hp. With the electric motors combined, you can get a total of 194 hp. 

A powerhouse the Lexus is not. Reviewers felt it was underwhelming and seemed to struggle to go from 0 to 60. It managed the trek, but it took 9.1 seconds to get there. There are other vehicles, including the non-hybrid NX that get better acceleration times. 

What should you buy instead of the Lexus NX 300h?

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If you’re specifically looking for a comparable hybrid vehicle, the prime choice would be the Toyota RAV4. Their hybrid version offers 38 mpg on the highway which is eight more than what the Lexus NX 300h gets. It also has a whopping 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s tons more than what you would get with the Lexus hybrid. 

The Toyota RAV4 also offers about 25 hp more than the Lexus, making it much peppier than what the 300h can bring. It’s also better to drive and handle when riding on various types of road surfaces. About the only thing, you won’t get with the RAV4 hybrid is the richness of the interior, a plethora of luxury features, and the hefty price that a luxury vehicle brings. 

If you’re dead set on a Lexus luxury vehicle, then you might want to consider going non-hybrid and choosing the regular Lexus NX. At least it will get you a decent offering for the price point. 

At the end of the day, the Lexus NX 300h, so far, doesn’t impress many people. Maybe down the road after some redesigning takes place, it might change people’s minds, but not quite yet.