The avant-garde shape of the 2021 Lexus NX has stayed fresh with the hybrid powertrain keeping it current. The NX is a five-seat luxury crossover SUV that compares with vehicles such as the BMW X3, Acura RDX, and Infiniti QX50. It scores well above average, thanks to a high-quality interior and an efficient hybrid model.
For 2021, Blind-spot monitors now are standard across the board. Not much else has changed with the 2021 NX, which still bristles with angles and creases and a huge hourglass grille that defy the calm, cool Lexus styling efforts of just a few years ago. Inside it’s slightly more tame, until it pulls its red-leather pants out of the closet for a night out.
The NX still looks good, and not just for a design that’s more than a half-decade old. It’s still unpredictable what people will answer when you ask, “Who makes this car?” Lexus might not even be on the list. The NX ditches the curves that would have wrapped around it back in 2005 or even 2010. Now it’s all brash angles and hard surfaces, a big hourglass grille, big wheels, and body add-ons aplenty. It works even better in bright colors; it’s a natural attention-seeker, after all.
It’s slightly less outrageous inside, where a tablet-like display rests atop a mostly symmetrical dash with rows of neatly organized buttons and splashes of colorful trim. Those pieces keep the interior from looking inexpensive and mundane at the same time. Strike out and choose the tan and bright red leather; the inky standard hues can make the NX cockpit seem more cramped than it is.
The driving’s more tame than its wardrobe, but even the 235-horsepower turbo-4 in the NX300 delivers acceleration worthy of a luxury brand. It’s shipped to the front or all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic, and this NXcan hit 60 mph in about seven seconds, according to Lexus.
Plan ahead more with the NX300h hybrid, which takes longer to reach highway speeds but does so with greater efficiency and smoother operation. In either case, the NX offers more buttoned-down handling in F Sport models than in Luxury versions, and better damped in the hybrid thanks to more curb weight.
Lexus wraps the front passengers in well-sculpted seats and surrounds them with nicely fitted trim. The rear seats are wide enough for two, not three, average-size adults; cargo space is ample with the rear seats up (17.7 cubic feet) or down (54.6 cubic feet). Good crash-test scores combine with standard safety gear to add luster to the NX.
The 2021 NX300 with front-wheel drive costs $38,535 and comes with an 8.0-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, power features, and synthetic leather upholstery. The top $41,805 NX300h hybrid can be optioned even higher with Mark Levinson audio and a surround-view camera system.
The Lexus NX delights in uncommon ways among a sea of small crossover competition. While competitors have chosen to go bigger over time and prioritize off-road ability, Lexus has smartly chosen to make the NX’s styling it’s standout feature, and it works. Add to that refined driving dynamics, legendary Lexus comfort and quality, and class leading fuel economy in the hybrid; and it quickly becomes clear why the 2021 Lexus NX is a great contender.