Road Test: 2019 Lexus NX 300 F Sport

The Lexus NX 300 F Sport remains one of the sharpest luxury-utility vehicle designs on the road with newly added standard equipment for even more value for the money.

Although the NX 300 offers a raised driving position, the vehicle’s cockpit still evokes a sporty driving experience with new features to complement a busy lifestyle.

A driving experience that is never ordinary, the NX sculptured metal-faced four-dial gauge cluster with 3D speedometer and tachometer displays. Gauges in the F SPORT feature full-length illuminated needles. 

The crouching, muscular stance of the NX stems in part from providing good ramp-over angles, while also having the highest point of the vehicle set back toward the rear of the roof. A sharply raked tailgate and integrated spoiler are punctuated by Lexus’ signature L-shape light clusters featuring seamless LED illumination, with tailgate detailing that echoes the updated spindle grille design.

The LED theme continues with standard power folding outside mirrors that house turn signal lights. And, a single LED elegantly streams a welcoming beam of light along the top of the door handle and to the ground as the driver approaches the vehicle.   

For the interior design of the NX 300, the center console remains the focal point, especially with the 10.3-inch screen with Navigation and a second-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) that’s 30 percent larger.

Our NX 300 F Sport featured the optional Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), now based on the advanced system found in the LC 500, which offers a range of up to 650 instantaneous compression and damping adjustments for enhanced control and overall handling stability.  

Under the hood, NX 300’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 235 HP and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The D4-S injection system, which uses a combination of direct fuel injection and additional port fuel injectors, helps ensure ample power and crisp responsiveness at all engine speeds. 

The six-speed automatic transmission uses Torque-Demand control logic to calculate required engine torque to deliver quick response and exhilarating acceleration feel. The G-force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system enables spirited driving by selecting the optimum gear and downshift pattern in response to g force.

 The Drive Mode Select dial on the center console adjusts parameters for multiple systems, including throttle response and the power steering assist curve. The default setting is Normal. Sport mode sharpens responses, and ECO mode pushes more fuel-efficient driving.

For the 2019 NX 300, AWD helps provide maximum traction and cornering control. Taking input from various sensors (vehicle speed, steering speed and angle, throttle angle and yaw rate), the system continuously monitors and actively governs torque distribution to the rear wheels, as needed, via an electromagnetically controlled coupling in the rear differential. Under most normal driving conditions, the system operates in front-wheel drive mode and can send up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels when needed.

The NX 300 F SPORT grabs the senses with its amped-up design, handling performance and sound. The F SPORT exterior has a unique honeycomb front end with a more aggressive grille, Hi LED headlights and a lower bumper with more elegant chrome treatment. The front-end of the NX 300 F Sport achieves an even more aggressive appearance thanks to a revised lower bumper, rear lower bumper and taillamps, laser fog light housings, larger exhaust opening and 18-inch F SPORT alloy wheels.

Enjoy the sound of an engine revving? The Lexus NX 300 F SPORT obliges with Active Sound Control (ASC), which brings some of the engine note through the speakers and enhances it, with volume adjustable by a knob near the driver’s right knee.

Body-hugging, quilted NuLuxe sport seats are exclusive to the F SPORT. The perforated leather F SPORT steering wheel and brushed metallic gearshift are unique too.

The F SPORT’s unique instrumentation was inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar. The driver can view real-time performance with the Lexus-first G-Force meter “G-ball” in the Multi Information Display. The G-ball moves in response to the vehicle’s lateral and longitudinal forces. The MID displays the peak force in each direction. Display bars indicate the steering angle, throttle opening angle and brake pressure. The MID also provides a turbo-boost display.

The heated/ventilated front seats work well. Renowned Lexus detailing shows in the front dome lights and map light that illuminate at the light touch of a finger. Footwell lighting accentuates the luxury ambiance.

Designers carved out maximum space with the NX design.  There is plenty of room to carry your passengers and gear – or anything else.  Storage in four compartments beneath the cargo floor provide space for keeping your valuables out of sight.  There’s a place for everything throughout the cabin, including a large glove box and console box, a console mid-tray, utility box, sunglasses holder, two front and two rear cup holders and front and rear door pockets. 

The standard 60/40 split rear seat with recline can be upgraded with a power-folding option. You can lower or raise the seats individually using switches on the instrument panel, on the side of each rear seat or within the luggage compartment. The power liftgate, which includes memory height, likewise can be operated by switches on the instrument panel, door and key fob.

The multimedia system, accessed through the HD 10.3″ display provides a multitude of capabilities including Lexus Navigation with predictive traffic information, including detour preview, ETA calculation and low-fuel coordination with nearby fuel stations. Navigation also includes the subscription-free Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0 and 3D map views.

Anyone who’s used a smartphone or tablet will feel immediately familiar with the RTI, which uses a touchpad with palm rest in the center console. The RTI helps the driver access various functions while staying focused on the road. The front-seat passenger can also easily operate the RTI.

Apple CarPlay is also now standard on all trim levels and worked well with the RTI, but we’d like to see a touchscreen become available in the future for additional flexibility.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy9
Interior Fit and Finish10
Gauges and Controls9
Total Score95

Make: Lexus
Model: NX 300
Trim Level: F Sport
Engine: 2.0L Turbo 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: Adaptive Suspension, Navigation Pkg, Panoramic Monitor, F Sport Pkg, Cold Weather Pkg, Paint Protection, All-weather Floormats

Base Price: $40,025
As-Tested Price: $49,348

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