We are not huge fans of SUVs or Crossovers, we prefer wagons, however, here in the US they are few and far between and the current trend is unlikely to change. Drivers want a car like driving experience, to sit up high and not drive something called a wagon, clad with faux wood paneling and have starred in a Chevy Chase movie.  Of course modern wagons are not like that but buyers these days are addicted to SUV.

Enter the 2015 Lexus NX 200t and this one is rather exciting, mainly due to the fact that has a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine.  Lexus needs to stay competitive with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, so  incorporating turbochargers had to happen. Now they have done it and despite being a little late to the party, have done it rather well.

Engine and Performance

The all new 2.0 T provides a healthy 235 hp and 258 lb ft at a low 1,650 rpm allowing for a brisk run to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and onto the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds. This performance is on a par with the Audi q5 2.oT which dispatches the 60 time in the same seven seconds flat. Power delivery is seem-less and the power-train excels. Lexus has absolutely nailed it here, there is no turbo lag and no  jerky  dual-clutch transmission. They have succeeded in making it a luxury 4 cylinder car.

What’s most enjoyable is how refined this little engine is, at any revs, it never feels strained, and oh so quiet, even on California’s concrete freeways. Unlike the Audi Q5 which can sound a little harsh at higher revs, the little (if a little heavy) Lexus is smooth and quite remarkable.

Handling and Ride

Sweet, silky and smooth are words we might not usually use in referencing an SUV as there are compromises that have to be made. Don’t get me wrong this is not a mountain pass carver like a Golf GTI, instead it is calm and collected with ample power and tracks straight and true at freeway speeds.

The drive mode selector allows for subtle changes to the car’s behavior, Eco mode slows everything down a bit, Sport mode tightens everything up a tad and Normal is like Sunday at the beach, perfect. We stayed in Sport mode because we felt the steering was a little vague in normal mode and not as direct.

Interior and Exterior

Yes this car shares it’s floor pan with the Toyota RAV4 but the comparisons end there. The Lexus’s looks are polarizing, you either love or hate that gaping mouth grille and the rear 3 quarter treatment. We like it overall.

Inside things are comfortable, with supportive front seats and a decent amount of room in both the front and rear.  Even in our base car’s trim the level of luxury is of a typically high Lexus standard and the lack of the navigation option was not missed. You could pay more for the F Sport package but we think you will be perfectly happy without it.

Inside, many knobs and buttons are available to play with instead of a touchscreen display, which is not ideal but it works.  The NX 200t is also roomier inside and more comfortable than an Audi Q3 which we were was a surprise. The soft, quilted NuLuxe leatherette (we thought it was leather) is excellent and almost as good as the MB Tex that Mercedes offers. There’s not a huge amount of cargo space but the rear seats fold down and it will  fit a bike without removing the front wheel.

Conclusion

Very impressive overall,I enjoyed driving the NX 200t more than I expected and that remarkable engine was a huge surprise. Those that were thinking German for their next luxury SUV need to take a serious look at this car. Lexus has hit it out of the park with their baby.

2015 Lexus NX 200t Numbers

BASE PRICE $37,000
PRICE AS TESTED $39,975
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
POWER 235 hp @ 4,800-5,600 rpm
TORQUE 258 lb ft @ 1,650-4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,075 lb
0-60 MPH 7 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.5 sec @ 90.3 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/28/24 mpg