Do something right in the automotive world and you’ll quickly be asked to do it again, but this time smaller. Or perhaps larger. The original Lexus RX was a pioneer in the luxury crossover world. It brought Toyota reliability with an upscale interior. That’s not why I brought you, dear reader, to this little corner of the internet though. I just spent a week with a pretty Nori Green NX, the one that slots in just below the RX, and now I’m going to say things about it.
The aforementioned RX now fits squarely in the Lexus SUV lineup between the larger GX and LX, and the smaller UX and NX. I don’t have the measurements in front of me, but the current-day NX is likely about the same size as the original RX. You know what, I respect your time, so I’m going to fact check that shit. Stand by.
Well damn, I was right. Except for height, the 2021 NX is larger than a 1999 RX in every dimension. I guess sometimes we in the enthusiast community lament how “everything got bigger” and then forget that what is now bigger likely has something smaller slotted beneath it in the lineup. Well, not many enthusiasts spending their time lamenting the size increase of the Lexus RX I suppose. I could be wrong.
You can choose between three main NX variants, base NX, F Sport, Hybrid, and the NX Alligator (whoops, not in this timeline). We took a spin in the Hybrid this go-around which starts at just over $40,000 before options. Nori Green Pearl is no-extra add-on and should be the only color you consider (although Cadmium Orange is cool too). Ah screw it, here is the winder sticker.
As you can see, our tester has some options. The Premium Package ($2,630) gets you:
- Enhanced Led Daytime Running Lights With Integrated Turn Indicators
- Power Moonroof
- Lexus Memory System
- 18-In Split-Five-Spoke Alloy Wheels
- Heated And Ventilated Front Seats
Meanwhile the Navigation Package ($3,045) is really the “bigass screen” package.
- Navigation System* With 10.3-In Split-Screen Multimedia Display
- Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation*
- Lexus 10-Speaker Premium Sound System
- Lexus Enform Destination Assist*
- Dynamic Voice Command*
- Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror And Homelink®* System
It’s also got a bunch of individual options, which brings the total to just over $50,000. For reference, the gas RX starts at just over $45,000 and the hybrid RX starts at just over $48,000.
Those longing for the olden days of smaller vehicles might like the NX’s size. It’s middle-child “not too big, not too small” ends up with a easy-to-park crossover. The front remains a “love it or hate it” endeavor. Maybe I’m getting softer, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to it, but I don’t mind the front. If anything, the new Lexus SUV overbite is my least favorite bit, the RX suffers from that as well. It probably has something to do with pedestrian safety something-or-other.
The profile is fairly drama-free (in a good way) with muscular-ish haunches. I could do without the de-rigueur plastic wheel arches. It doesn’t scream “I’m tough” as much as designers (or engineers?) think. Out back, it’s pretty nice looking. If anything the relative simplicity of the rear makes up for some of the fussy design details on the front end.
However, like a lot of vehicles on the market today (looking at you crossovers), the NX will be bought more what’s on the inside. And that’s exactly how we should, but don’t, judge people too. Most of the time. To test this crossy-road, I packed it up for a trip to the country. I took the two eldest Byrd children and we set out for the great state of Virginia. Actually, we just went from one part of Virginia (where there are tall buildings) to another part (where there are none). It’s basically West Virginia Virginia.
While the external dimensions of the NX are similar to the OG RX, the cargo space isn’t. The NX has 16.8 cu. ft. where the 1999 Lexus had 30.4 cu. ft. of cargo space.
Car go road. Car no go space. Sorry, that makes me laugh, still.
With three of us on board, I packed the rear area to the brim (note: photo above was a partial pack, the big cooler was still to come) and had to drop a seat to get it all in.
Once we were packed, it was time to head to our tiny house destination. A buddy owns one, along with an RV, that he uses to get away from the city (and also to rent out to city people doing the same) and graciously offered it to us for the weekend. Astute readers will notice that we are actually packing out in the photos above, I swore I took some departure pics, but oh well. Same difference.
Once on the road, the NX is quite comfortable. Even with the “Sport” mode, the NX is tuned for comfort. The seats were surprisingly well-bolstered for a compact crossover.
The rear was pretty comfortable, at least according to my daughter. She’s tall for a 14 year old girl but said she had enough room behind my six-footer driving position. Even with a mountain of stuff beside her. The NX has a nice flip-down cup holder situation in the back, as well as a pass-through for your skis or longer gear.
She’s slow (the NX, not my daughter). The 2.5 four-cylinder hybrid engine only has 194 horsepower. Add that to a 4180 lb. curb weight, and it’s not all that confidence inspiring on the highway merge. At 9.1 seconds to sixty, it’s not that quick from a standstill either. Once up to speed, it moves fairly well, and held a comfortable cruising speed. I can’t decide if the tall shifter feels dated, or like a throwback to a simpler time. There isn’t much else to say about the NX on the road, Lexus touts its MPG the most, and that is pretty solid. 33 mpg city and 30 mph highway meant that we had a pretty economical trip out to the country and back.
Also, HD camera technology really highlights the dirt, sorry.
Crossovers are hard to get excited about. I get that. I review more of them than any other type of vehicle, by a good margin. After this NX, a VW Taos, Bronco Sport, Santa Fe, and RAV4 Prime showed up in my driveway. But, that makes me an expert on something I never asked to be an expert on. The crossover! The Lexus NX comes in around $40,000 to start, and that’s actually pretty inexpensive for a luxury crossover these days. Toyota’s own Highlander starts at $35,000, of course it’s bigger. The RAV4 Hybrid starts at just $28,500, but will be a bit more spartan on the inside.
The compact crossover is the new “city car” for many. While this NX is roughly the same size as the original RX, it’s still much smaller than the average crossover of today. That makes it easier to park in tight street spaces or in the back corner of that garage downtown. It was a great accomplice for our trip to the tiny house, I even hooned it around a gravel track and almost got it stuck out in a field for a photo op. If you are looking for a compact luxury crossover that will (ideally) be super reliable and get good gas mileage, the NX is worth a look.