2024 Lexus NX Buying Guide Review: It's all about the hybrids

2024 Lexus NX Buying Guide Review: It's all about the hybrids

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Pros: Hybrid and PHEV are efficient and fun; sharp styling; lots of standard tech; top safety scores

Cons: Some of that tech is frustrating to use (especially the nonsensical HUD); less back seat space than some rivals

When it comes to the 2024 Lexus NX, it’s all about the hybrids. Available as the NX 350h regular hybrid and NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid, the fuel economy these deliver greatly exceeds that of other luxury compact SUVs. Indeed, Lexus is one of the only luxury brands to offer hybrids at all, and if you want to save gas while still enjoying the premium look, feel and features of a luxury vehicle, the NX is an obvious choice to check out.


The gas-only versions are less impressive. The base engine is the same four-cylinder that underwhelms in the Toyota RAV4, and although the NX 350’s turbocharged engine seems stout on paper, its actual performance is a letdown. Unlike the hybrids, they just don’t counter the rest of the NX’s somewhat ho-hum resume of other talents. It’s less spacious than competitors, its infotainment controls can frustrate, and it’s just not as enjoyable to drive. We also don’t think it looks particularly fresh – it’s a bit hard to tell what they changed with the full redesign two years ago.

In other words, our feelings about this compact luxury SUV are definitely mixed and whether we recommend it very much depends on what numbers and letters come after “NX.”

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2024?

The various NX model carry over unchanged for 2024.

What are the NX interior and in-car technology like?

While it may be difficult to tell the second-generation NX apart from its predecessor on the outside, the same cannot be said of the cabin. It looks just as fresh and new as it is. Importantly, the basic layout shares virtually nothing with the mechanically related Toyota RAV4 and the materials used are appropriate for a Lexus. That said, we could do without the silly electronic door handles.

Oh, and we have serious complaints about the in-car tech. The infotainment system features either a standard 9.8-inch screen with dedicated physical climate control toggles or an optional 14-inch unit that incorporates a dedicated blend of touch-sensitive and physical comfort controls blended into the screen’s lower bezel. No matter which you choose, you get a physical volume knob. This represents a vast improvement over that found in the previous NX, but lacks split-screen functionality and some other basic items, like a dedicated home screen. Going between the native Lexus functions like radio or navigation, and the standard wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity screens is a constant source of tap-tap-tapping frustration. We’ve also found the satellite radio interface to be poorly designed.

The infotainment screen is fitted to a panel that blends into the instrument display, which itself features a 7-inch screen. Sixty-four-color ambient lighting is available, along with wireless charging and the bizarre 10-inch head-up display (pictured below right) that's controlled by unmarked buttons on the steering wheel (pictured below left). It's weird and difficult to use. There's also standard integrated music streaming services such as Apple Music, a digital phone key, user profiles for car settings, a digital rearview mirror, plus an AI assistant that responds to natural speech commands.

How big is the NX?

The Lexus NX fits into the compact luxury SUV segment. Populated by the likes of the BMW X3Audi Q5, Acura RDX and Genesis GV70, this class seems to grow larger every year — both in terms of the size of its constituents and the sheer quantity available. The NX itself gained an additional 5 cubic feet of cargo volume with its redesign two years ago but that did virtually nothing to improve its stature in a field where it remains one of the smallest entries, comparable to the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. In fact, although the NX’s exterior dimensions significantly exceed those of subcompacts like the BMW X1Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA, its interior dimensions are quite similar.

That said, we found that the cargo area is more useful than its modest 22-cubic-foot measurement would suggest. In our luggage test, we managed to fit our usual six pieces of baggage with room to spare. That includes the sizable under-floor storage bin found on every NX model (in fact, cargo space is equal regardless of powertrain), which not only provides enough space for a duffel bag or groceries, but is designed to thoughtfully store the cargo cover inside the car.

What are the NX fuel economy, electric range and performance specs?

The NX comes with four available engines and is offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations.

The NX 250 has a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder. Paired with an eight-speed automatic, it produces 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet – just as that engine does in its platform relative, the Toyota RAV4. Its 0-60-mph time of 8.2 seconds is one of the slowest of any luxury-brand vehicle. With front-wheel drive, this is rated at 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. Opting for all-wheel drive only costs 1 mpg (both city and highway), but the combined figure is oddly the same.

The NX 350 and its 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four are good for 275 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. That output exceeds the BMX X3 xDrive30i, Mercedes GLC 300 and Acura RDX, especially in terms of torque. Oddly, though, its estimated 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds is also about a half-second slower than the X3 and GLC despite its power advantage. It’s rated at 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with its standard all-wheel drive.

The NX 350h hybrid produces 239 total system horsepower. This system incorporates an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission and because of its standard rear motor, includes all-wheel drive. Fuel economy checks in at 41 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined.

Ultimately, the most appealing and distinctive powertrain option is found in the NX 450hplug-in hybrid. Its electric motor provides the smooth, effortless punch expected of a PHEV thanks to its 304 total system horsepower. EPA estimates for 2024 were not available at the time of this writing, but it’s doubtful they’d significantly change. For 2023, the NX 450h+ could travel an EPA-estimated 37 miles on electric power alone. The miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating used to estimate a PHEV's fuel economy came in at 84 MPG-e.