Lexus tries to keep a model as long as possible before they make any major updates. This holds true for the NX which is largely unchanged since its debut in 2014. So what, if anything, is new for 2020?
Outside there are a few color changes with Silver Lining Metallic and Autumn Shimmer no longer available and Cadmium Orange being added.
Inside the infotainment system now has Android Auto (for all NXs built after October 1st 2019) which joins Apple CarPlay that became available last year. There is an optional Mark Levinson audio system. The steering wheel now includes power tilt and telescope, and the seats are available with Arctic White and Black trim in the F Sport with the Rioja Red accents have been changed to black.
Other changes include the now standard safety suite, Lexus Safety Sense + 2.0 with lane tracing assist and road sign assist and active cornering assist.
Outside, the NX 300 F Sport AWD is sleek with sharp angled lines over most of the vehicle, but from the side it is clear the front end is very rounded which helps reduce drag. On the F Sport the bumpers are lower making for a more aggressive look and the LED headlights are bright with clean cutoff and a sporty appearance. The F Sport package has optional 18” alloy wheels that are a split five spoke design.
The approach lighting illuminates the entry and allows clear access to the NX. The rear hatch does have the motion sense feature where you can wave your foot underneath the rear bumper and it will open the rear hatch. This feature is great, but like other vehicles using this same system it typically requires a good dance before it actually opens.
Inside there are soft touch materials almost everywhere. Sorry to those of you who like to rest your elbow on the window sill, this is still a hard surface. The driver’s seat is cozy with lots of side bolstering to support the driver when cornering. As expected the front seats are heated and ventilated with a heated steering wheel. Heated seats are optional for the rear outboard occupants.
The updated infotainment system is very clear and quite large, but still not a touch screen. It is controlled by a touch pad that isn’t terrible but does take some getting used to. All of the controls in the center stack are easy to reach and have a solid mechanical feel to them. It is clear when a button is pushed or a rocker is rolled with good tactile feedback. There is an available surround view camera system which provides for a clear view all around the vehicle.
The NX is small and that is noticeable when trying to fit three adults in the rear seat, or in our case one adult and two car seats. Depending on the size of the car seats, there may not be enough room to fit three in the third row. Rear seat leg room is also limited, especially when both the front and rear passengers are over 6 feet tall.
On the front of the steering wheel there are buttons to navigate the center screen in the instrument cluster, infotainment system, voice/phone system, lane keep assist, collision warning and others. The back side of the wheel has paddle shifters and the cruise control, which is on a stalk that rotates with the wheel.
Driving the F Sport NX is surprisingly sporty. The ride is firm, even in eco mode. Switching to sport or sport+ modes stiffens the ride even more, all but eliminating body roll in the corners. The 2.0 liter inline 4-cylinder turbo has good power with 235 hp and 258 ft-lb of torque, but major turbo lag. Changing the drive mode to sport+ will reduce the amount of turbo lag by holding gears longer and keeping the engine at a higher RPM. Throttle sensitivity and response are also changed with the different drive modes of which there are five; eco, normal, custom, sport, and sport+.
When in sport or sport+ modes the engine noise can also be adjusted via the ASC dial to the right of the steering wheel. This will adjust how much engine noise is played through a speaker under the dash. We found it kind of gimmicky but there are some people who will definitely enjoy the feature.
The AWD system is quite good and has the ability to transfer up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels. Naturally the NX is front wheel drive, but when slip is detected it will transfer power where it is needed. There is a center differential lock button which can be engaged at low speeds to provide extra traction in slick conditions. There was a lot of rain and snow during our week with the NX and we never struggled to get where we were going.
We averaged 23 mpg which is just under the EPA estimated 24 combined. Many other vehicles this size achieve better mileage. The 6-speed sequential automatic could probably use another gear or two to help with this. There is a hybrid version that is rated higher at 31mpg combined for those seeking better economy.
As mentioned the 2020 NX gets a whole bunch of standard safety features. These include pre-collision with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure alert, steering assist, lane tracing assist, intelligent high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist which uses a camera system to read street signs and displays them in the center of the instrument cluster. They can also be displayed on the optional HUD.
Now we come to pricing. Our tester rang in at $51,048 including the destination fee. The NX 300 F Sport AWD has a base price of $40,380, but our test model had the $2,800 Premium F Sport Package, $1,500 LED lighting, a $1,800 infotainment system and many other options totaling over $10,000.
Overall the 2020 NX 300 F Sport is a comfortable, sporty, and luxurious crossover. The small size isn’t ideal for families or large people and its turbo lag could use some addressing. Often Toyota and Lexus vehicles feel outdated, this one doesn’t. Combined with Lexus reliability and good value when compared to its competitors from Mercededs, BMW, and Accura we find it to be a good buy.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.