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Road Test: 2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD

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by Kivi

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09.12.2020


Proven Premium SUV

The 2020 Lexus NX 300h, now in its fifth year, has proven itself as a comfortable driving, compact crossover utility vehicle, featuring hybrid efficiency and standard all-wheel drive. There is much to like about this premium crossover.

2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
Half a decade old, but holding its own

Drivetrain

The all-wheel drive 2020 Lexus NX 300h is powered by a parallel hybrid drivetrain where the electric motor can power the car by itself, the gas engine can power the car by itself, or they can power the car together.

2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
The Lexus powertrain aims for efficiency

The Lexus system has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on unleaded regular, producing 154 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque. The all-wheel drive hybrid portion consists of three electric motor generators (MG 1, MG2, MGR): MG 1 starts the engine and charges the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) hybrid battery; MG2 drives the front wheels and regenerates electricity during braking and coasting; and MGR drives the rear wheels and regenerates electricity during braking and coasting. There is a total 194 system horsepower.

The power gets to all four wheels via an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA rates the fuel economy at 33 mpg city/30 highway/31 combined. In 240 miles driving throughout Southern California for a week, Clean Fleet Report matched the EPA combined number, but in a 150-mile all-freeway all-cruise control run, we averaged 35.2 mpg.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The Lexus NX 300h ran smooth and quiet at slow and highway speeds. When accelerating hard, and especially when in the Sport mode, the CVT was loud. The four driver-selectable settings of EV, Eco, Normal and Sport offer different driving feels.

  • EV runs solely on electricity for about a half mile at no more than 25 miles per hour
  • Eco prioritizes fuel economy, reducing throttle response and reducing the A/C output
  • Normal provides full system power and A/C
  • Sport sharpens the shift points, throttle response and steering feel.
2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
The NX is at home in town or on the freeway

Load the NX 300h with five passengers plus their gear, and the need for more power will become apparent. Sport mode is helpful to wind-out the horsepower for some extra oomph, getting you from 0–60 between 8.5 and nine seconds. That’s respectful enough, but certainly not a speed burner. Eco is where you will want to be for around town driving and once up-to-speed on the highway. Normal is a middle ground between the two.

The ride was smooth on the highway and around town, with the electric-assisted power steering providing good road feel. Clean Fleet Report’s NX 300h came with the Premium Package option that included 18-inch wheels and 225/60 Yokohama Geolander tires. The MacPherson struts up front and double wishbone rear suspension, with stabilizer bars all the way around, made the NX 300h a pleasant, easy and confident drive. Body lean, even on the hardest of corners, was manageable and predictable. Wind noise was low with a respectable 0.34 coefficient of drag (Cd).

Stopping was straight without fade on repeated stops. The four-wheel power-assisted disc, anti-lock brakes, were part of the regenerative braking system that converts kinetic energy into electricity that’s delivered to the battery when applying the brakes or coasting. Completing the stopping suite was brake assist, electronic brake distribution, vehicle stability control and smart stop technology, which are all standard equipment.

Driving Experience: Interior

The Premium Package option raised the already nice interior look and feel a few notches, starting with comfortable seats done up in NuLuxe, a man-made leather upholstery that possesses the look and feel of leather. The heated and ventilated driver and passenger seats are power adjustable, with the driver getting memory and power lumbar. There was no challenge finding a comfortable seating position with the power tilt and telescopic steering column. The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel had convenient audio and telephone controls. The center armrest’s correct height and large storage area were appreciated, as were the eight cup holders throughout the cabin.

2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
Luxury touches reinforce the Lexus brand

The interior has a combination of hard and soft plastic on the dash and door panel surfaces.

The dash layout is simple with straight-forward gauges and controls, which are all within easy reach of the driver. The analog gauges have black backgrounds with easy-to-read white letters and numbers.

The 2020 Lexus NX 300h can seat five with ample rear head and leg room. Two adults in the rear seat would be more comfortable so they can enjoy the reclining outboard seats, making for pleasant long road trips. Rear storage is adequate with the rear seat up (including four under-floor storage areas for securing valuables), but expansive when the 60/40 rear seat is folded to a nearly flat position. Access to the storage area is through a power lift gate, with a kick sensor that has a low lift-over load height. There is a convenient power port in the far rear.

Clean Fleet Report is a big fans of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls, so Lexus earns our praise for not relegating us to only using the pad controller, which can be both a bit cumbersome and quirky.

2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
Choices will affect the power and mpg

The upgraded 10-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System includes a 10.3-inch color touchscreen display that handled navigation and the backup camera. Listening options were SiriusXM, AM/FM/HD cache radio with CD, MP3, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Connectivity includes USB ports with iPod control, advanced casual voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone with Siri Eyes Free and Google Voice. The audio bundle includes a wide array of features through the Lexus Enform suite that included Wi-Fi (with 4 GB of data complimentary for three months) and Alexa smart watch integration. We also appreciated the radio having 36 presets. This safety feature allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road while changing channels with the steering wheel-mounted controls.

Other nice interior features are power windows and door locks, power and heated outside mirrors with driver-side memory, dual zone automatic climate control, carpeted floor mats, rear shelf tonneau cover, first aid kit, exterior temperature display, day/night rearview mirror with Homelink and two 12-volt accessory outlets.

Driving Experience: Exterior

Starting with the signature Lexus spindle grille and the L-shaped LED headlights, the NX 300h is distinguishable from its competitors. The hood sweeps up to the laid-back windshield, then to a rail-equipped roof with a tilt and slide power moonroof and a color-keyed shark fin antenna. The built-in spoiler shades the rear hatch window and wiper. The shelf-like LED rear tail lights continue the L-shape design cue.

Safety and Convenience

2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
The Lexus look is now established

The 2020 NX 300h has a National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5 Star government safety rating, the highest they provide. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the NX 300h its Top Safety Pick rating.

Safety and convenience features including eight air bags, remote keyless entry, theft deterrent system, tire pressure monitoring system and the previously mentioned vehicle stability assist, traction control and foour-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist. Standard and optional safety technology includes pre-collision braking, intuitive parking assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure alert and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing and Warranties

Clean Fleet Report’s 2020 NX 300h AWD had a base price of $39,070. With option packages totaling $9,002 and the $1,025 delivery processing and handling fee, the final MSRP was $49,592.

The 2020 Lexus NX 300h AWD comes with these warranties.

  • Basic – Four years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain – Five years/70,000 miles
  • Corrosion/Perforation – Five years/Unlimited miles
  • Hybrid Components – Eight years/100,000 miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Four years/Unlimited miles
  • Two Scheduled Services – Per Maintenance Schedule
  • Emergency Lodging – 100 miles from home

Observations: 2020 Lexus NX 300h AWD

The NX 300h AWD has been a sales success for Lexus since it went on sale in 2015. Consumers like this stylish and spacious premium crossover SUV that delivers good hybrid fuel economy. They value the Lexus owner experience that begins at the dealership and continues through many years of driving one of their cars. This is very good crossover, and with the renowned Lexus reliability and quality reputation, it will be in your garage for many years.

2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD
Everything you want a crossover for, but ready for an update

But, in the auto world five years is a long run. Clean Fleet Report doesn’t have any insider information, but expect there to be a redesigned NX 300h in the near future. One possibility is to use the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid powertrain, which was introduced in 2019, as it is more powerful and fuel efficient. You can learn about the RAV4 Hybrid in our review from last year.

If you are considering stepping up to owning a Lexus, congratulations on reaching a certain level of success. The reward for such success is having the finer things in life, which is exactly where Lexus has positioned itself: affordable luxury. So when you are researching the right crossover and have determined you deserve a bit more of a premium experience, then go for the NX 300h AWD. You will not be disappointed.

Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

[See image gallery at cleanfleetreport.com]

Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Compact Crossover Choices

There’s little brother, the Toyota that shares much of the NX’s underpinnings:

Flash Drive: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV

Road Test: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

There’s big brother, the Lexus RX 450h, the next size up in hybrid crossovers:

Road Test: 2020 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid

Then there’s the others in the luxury field:

News: Cadillac Sings a New Tune with Lyriq EV

Road Test: 2018 Volvo XC60 PHEV

Road Test: 2020 BMW X3 xDrive30e PHEV

News: BMW iX3 Electric Crossover Spotted

Road Test: 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV

Road Test: Range Rover Sport HSE P400E PHEV

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

The post Road Test: 2020 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid AWD first appeared on Clean Fleet Report.



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