Totally redesigned for 2015, the 2016 Lexus NX 300h enters its sophomore year as the only luxury hybrid compact SUV. So the question then can be asked—why a luxury small crossover in the first place? Let’s see what this versatile utility vehicle has to offer.
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h comes standard in front-wheel drive (FWD) while Clean Fleet Report was driving the AWD version, which in the Lexus dictionary stands for all-weather drive, not all-wheel drive as it is commonly known. Is it a marketing ploy to stress all-weather or could this be a more accurate description separating all-wheel from four-wheel drive. Let’s start with the drivetrain and get into the handling later.
The NX 300h is powered by the Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive series-parallel system with a 2.5-liter, 16-valve double overhead cam (DOHC) gasoline-powered, I-4 engine, and a front 105-kW electric motor and a rear 50-kW electric motor. The 2.5L puts out 154 hp and 152 lb-ft of torque while the electric motors add 141 hp driving the font wheels and 67 hp driving the rear wheels; Lexus rates the total system output at 194 hp. All this power and torque goes through an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). The AWD has both Dynamic Torque Control and a kick-down function, that, when you tromp on the accelerator, delivers maximum on-demand power and increases engine braking when decelerating (at which point regeneration charges the batteries).
Running on 87 octane, EPA fuel economy for the NX 300h is rated at 33 city/30 highway/32 combined mpg. I drove 354 miles and averaged 31.8 mpg.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system automatically switches between electric drive mode, combined electric/gasoline mode and gasoline-only engine power. The transitions are seamless and smooth and can be monitored by viewing the dash gauges. When driving a hybrid, I like the option to select the electric mode, especially when cruising around town in stop and go traffic. The NX 300h has this option, but for the most part it is unnecessary to manually select the electric mode as the computer gets the NX 300h into EV mode at the correct times.
The hybrid system’s nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery is charged by the engine and through the regenerative braking system, which converts kinetic energy from braking or coasting into
electric energy and stores it in the battery. This process can be viewed on a dash gauge where you can watch the power flow into and out of the battery and into the electric motors.
The center console-mounted Drive Mode Select dial on the NX 300h allows the driver to choose between ECO, Normal (default setting) and Sport, as well as EV mode. With all these settings, I spent most of my time in ECO, which optimized throttle response for the best fuel economy. Even when opting for the Sport mode, I would never consider the NX 300h to be fast off the line; cruising long, comfortable distances is where the NX 300h shines.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The NX 300h suspension has a confident feel and very good handling through the front MacPherson struts with coil springs and a double wishbone rear suspension. It’s all mated to rack-and-pinion electronic power-assist steering that delivered better-than-average road feel. Our Lexus NX 300h, with the Luxury Package, came with attractive 18-inch, seven-spoke chrome alloy wheels and 225/60R18 all season tires. At times road noise was noticeable, especially at 70+ mph on the grooved concrete freeways in Southern California. But at no time was it objectionable or could it be considered loud.
The stops were straight and consistent coming from an electronically controlled brake system (ECB) that incorporates regenerative control and power-assisted, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). If you are not familiar with hybrid technology, when coming to a stop the combination of the regenerative braking and the hybrid motor made a noticeable, but not unpleasant, whine.
Driving Experience: Exterior
A common term used in the automobile industry is “Design Language,” which simply means that a manufacturer, after much debate and revisions, has decided upon a look and style that will
continue through much, if not all, of its full line. When Lexus did a redesign of the NX 300 in 2015, they introduced a very pronounced “spindle grille and L-finesse headlight” design. This cutting edge direction Lexus has taken can also be found on their other SUVs, including the all-new 2016 RX 450h.
Lexus had a goal of impressing drivers with its attention to detail, beginning with the dramatic spindle grille design, which is easily recognizable (as are the L-themed headlights). Both designs have drawn mixed opinions, but I personally like what they have done.
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h is a five-passenger compact SUV that will remind you of driving a tall car with less boxy and softer lines and edges. A roof-mounted spoiler and sharply raked tailgate result in a low 0.34 Cd.
Driving Experience: Interior
Clean Fleet Report’s NX 300h had the optional Luxury Package, equipping our car with everything expected in a luxury SUV. Among the first things new car buyers consider are:
- the comfort level of the seats,
- the controls being convenient and easy to reach and use, and
- the gauges being easy to see and read.
Lexus has done an excellent job of designing an interior with high craftsmanship and attention to detail. The leather-trimmed, power 10-way adjustable, heated and ventilated driver seat, the
power tilt-and-telescope steering column, and the wood and leather, heated steering wheel (that included controls for the audio, telephone and voice controls) made it easy for the driver to find a comfortable seating position. The front passenger seat is eight-way power adjustable and is also heated and ventilated. The rear cabin has a 60/40 reclining and fold-flat seats and a comfortable 36.1-inches of legroom.
Our NX 300h came with the optional Navigation Package and an infotainment (entertainment and information) system starting with the Lexus 10-speaker Premium Audio System that features a seven-inch color touchscreen display. It took a bit of attention to operate the Remote Touch Controller, but overall it worked well for the navigation, Siri Eyes Free, SiriusXM/FM/CD/HDAM radio with iPod/MP3 playback capability. The FM/HDAM is a cache radio that offers the ability to pause and playback 10 minutes of programming. The SiriusXM service is included free for 90 days. There is an auxiliary audio jack, USB port, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and hands-free phone capability. The auto-dimming rearview mirror was Homelink-equipped and the voice activation for the telephone and navigation worked well. Also an option on our NX 300h was a wireless charging tray that is Qi compatible. Qi (pronounced “chee” from the Chinese word meaning “natural energy”) is an inductive electrical power system for charging compatible mobile phones.
The cockpit design is driver-friendly, featuring a dual-zone automatic climate system (with rear vents) and a center console storage box with cup holders. The interior also has a power tilt and sliding moonroof, power lift gate, power windows, door locks and mirrors, electronic parking brake, Smart Access with push-button stop/start, 12V power outlets, folding heated power side mirrors, cruise control and multiple cup holders.
The NX 300h is well-equipped with active and passive safety features, including 10 air bags, the Lexus Enform App Suite, tire pressure monitoring system, rain sensing wipers, intuitive parking assist, hill start control, anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer, rear view camera, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and the previously mentioned four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick, while the NX 300h has earned the US Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) overall 5-Star rating.
Pricing & Warranties
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h AWD has a base MSRP of $41,310. With the Luxury and Navigation packages and a few other individual options, our NX 300h AWD was priced at $47,605. All prices do not include the $940 delivery, processing and handling fee.
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain – Five-year/60,000-mile
- Hybrid-related Component Coverage – Eight-year/100,000-mile
- Comprehensive – Three-year/36,000-mile
- Corrosion Perforation – Five-year/Unlimited miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five-year/60,000-mile
Observations: 2016 Lexus NX 300h AWD
What does luxury mean to you? Do you yearn for a private jet or are your wishes more down-to-earth, where a nicely equipped vehicle that exceeds your expectations for fit and finish, comfort and convenience do the trick? Maybe, if you ask real nicely, Lexus will let you fly on its corporate jet, but you will have better luck owning one of its fine luxury SUVs or crossovers.
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h AWD has a comfortable and spacious interior for five adults with enough carrying capacity to haul their luggage. Entertainment choices to keep all those passengers occupied for long road trips are included, along with an exterior design that is unique in its class. Oh, I forgot to mention all-weather drive for enhanced handling and best in class fuel economy thanks in part to the Lexus Hybrid Drive system.
There are times in life when treating yourself to a bit of luxury makes a whole lot of sense. Does the 2016 Lexus NX 300h do that for you? The only way to find out is to visit your Lexus dealership and have them walk you through all the features, technology and options, especially taking the time to explain the hybrid technology in detail.
Owning a Lexus NX 300h is luxury without guilt.
Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!
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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, which does not 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, during which 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 or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.