2018 Lexus NX 300 Review

NX 300

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2018 Lexus NX 300 Overview

Following a mid-cycle refresh, the 2018 Lexus NX 300 became safer, more comfortable, and grew increasingly stylish.

The first change for this compact SUV is the name—the crossover formerly known as the NX 200t is now known as the NX 300. Along with the name change, the NX also received a facelift with a revamped front fascia.

Lexus’ oversized spindle grille is still front and center, but it has been modified to flow more smoothly into the hood and fenders. The fog lights have also been moved, and the NX 300 now comes equipped with triple-projector-beam headlights, the same headlights as the Lexus LC Coupe.

The exterior styling changes extend to the rear, where new LED taillights shine prominently above a restyled rear bumper, a new underbody spoiler and bigger chrome exhaust pipes. New 18-inch alloy wheels are also available to fully refresh the NX 300’s profile.

The crossover, which starts at $35,985, gets safer by turning the previously optional Lexus Safety System+ into a standard feature for all trims. The safety system features dynamic radar cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, lane-departure alert, and automatic headlight control, which dims the high beams when it senses another vehicle.

A retuned suspension delivers extra comfort for the 2018 NX 300. The shocks, springs, bushings, and stabilizer bars have all been tweaked to create a smoother ride and improve handling. The F Sport trim’s Adaptive Variable Suspension has also been upgraded, and gets its own new and distinctive grille, exterior chrome accents, and a larger faux air intake. The new Active Sound Control pipes in engine noise through the F Sports’s speakers. New accent piping and upholstery colors are available for the F Sport’s bolstered sports seats, as well as a new interior color option for this sporty trim—Circuit Red.

Interior and convenience changes for both NX trims include simplified climate controls, extra amps for faster charging on the repositioned USB ports, extra sound-damping materials, an optional power back door with kick sensor, an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment control, and two new interior color choices—Glazed Caramel and Rioja Red. The Comfort package adds heated and ventilated front seats for 2018, and the Luxury Package now includes electrochromic mirrors.

The NX 300 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that generates 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. When it comes with the standard front-wheel drive (FWD), the NX 300 gets 22 mpg city, 28 highway, and 25 combined. The available all-wheel drive (AWD), standard on the F Sport trim, barely bumps those numbers to 22, 28, and 24.

Road noise is minimal for the NX 300, which has car-like handling thanks in part to its low seating position. If you’re looking to have some fun driving curvy roads, you’ll need to put the NX 300 into “Sport” mode, truly unlocking the turbocharged joys of the I-4 engine.

The interior is comfortable, classy, and understated—exactly what you would expect from Lexus. The materials and craftsmanship are first-rate, and the large round gauges are both stylish and easy to read. There’s plenty of places to keep smaller items, including an oversized console bin and a large glovebox. The sloping rear keeps the cargo volume to 54.6 cubic feet with the seats folded, on the lower end for a crossover.

Not only does the NX 300 now come standard with the Lexus Safety System+, but it also has been rated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and was given five stars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Updated

After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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