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In-depth reviews

Lexus NX SUV - Engines, drive & performance

With three motors, the NX 450h+ is smooth and has plenty of power

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

The car is very quiet when accelerating and, while refinement takes a hit when the petrol engine is called upon, the transition between the two power sources is at least very smooth. The second-generation NX sits on Toyota's all-new TNGA-K platform, which is also found under the Toyota RAV4, Toyota Highlander and Lexus ES.

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Our UK drive demonstrated that the new Lexus NX is quite similar to the RAV4 in some respects. The NX’s steering is pleasantly direct and well-weighted, and the way the car accelerates isn’t vastly different either. Part of the reason you’ll pay more for the Lexus is that it’s much more refined and comfortable than the Toyota. That would ordinarily mean plenty of body roll but the NX generally manages to resist this when you take corners quickly. Nevertheless, enthusiasts are likely to be better served by the BMW X3 if they want an SUV that’s exciting to drive.

Lexus NX hybrid engine

The standard NX hybrid is pretty similar to the old model, with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, one as a generator and the other helping to drive the wheels – with an extra 53bhp motor for the rear axle in all-wheel drive form. For the entry-level front-wheel drive model, 0-62mph takes 8.7 seconds, while the AWD cuts this to 7.7 seconds. This combination works very well around town, where it’s easy to make steady progress. The powertrain is less ideal if you ask for extra performance and bursts of acceleration, because the CVT gearbox holds the petrol engine at high revs. Even the paddles behind the steering wheel only do a mediocre job of replicating the gearchanges of a traditional automatic.

Plug-in hybrid engine

The NX 450h+ isn't short on power, thanks to a total of 302bhp from a similar powertrain to the hybrid. This helps it get from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and the electric motors alone have plenty of punch to get the NX smartly off the line. It’s not a car aimed at enthusiasts but the quick acceleration comes in handy when you want to overtake or get up to speed on a motorway slip road.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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