The NX is the second best selling vehicle in the Lexus line up, but sales are down sharply this year, more than 37%. That’s probably due to supply constraints caused by the chip shortage and a variety of other problems. But even so, why not entice more people into the showroom with a performance version?
Meet the F-Sport Handling version, which gets stiffer dampers, and an active variable suspension to control its big, black 20-inch wheels. Visually and very subtly, you can pick it out of the NX lineup thanks to aluminum trim work, bolstered seats, a sport steering wheel and aluminum pedals.
With the luxury package you get a nice 14-inch touch screen and different headlamps.
One feature I particularly liked and haven’t seen on other cars is the head-up display. Of course, many other cars offer a HUD, but with the NX there is additional info you can call up by simply touching the buttons that flank either side of the steering wheel hub. Tap on, tap off. You get the info when you need it, or tap it off for a less cluttered view.
Lexus sure knows how to craft quality cars. But sometimes it misses on a detail or two. Not critical ones, mind you, but when you’re as good as Lexus is, the misses stand out.
I didn’t like the drone of its 275 hp, turbo 2.4 liter engine. While cruising along it’s not an issue at all, but when you step into the throttle it’s noticeable. The engine moans. That’s fine for econo-cars, but not appropriate for a luxury car. It’s rated at 25 mpg and that’s pretty much what I got on a long trip with extensive highway driving and a lead foot.
The other thing I didn’t like was that at highway speeds, when you open or close the front windows, there’s a sharp chirp just as the window cracks open or closes. Of course, most of us don’t drive down the highway opening and closing the windows, but when you do it’s an annoyance.
Those minor annoyances aside, the NX is a proper Lexus, well put together, chock full of safety, with all the latest connectivity technology. My test driver came in at $55,325 including over $7,000 worth of options and a $1,000 delivery fee.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.