This review of the 2020 Lexus NX 300h started in Houston.
We landed and picked up the luxury crossover at airport parking and headed here, no stops, no visiting friends, no nothing. We got on state highway 59 South headed for I-610 East that would take us to I-10 East.
Houston is big, we’re talking more than 600 square miles big. The fact that it took us roughly 20 minutes to get to the main road that would bring us here was a relatively quick ride.
But on this short stretch, we learned that the Lexus NX 300h was quick enough to deal with Texas expressway traffic. It had a 2.5-liter hybrid engine that supplied a total of 194 horsepower. The engine was mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission and of course there were electric motors. Our test vehicle had an all-wheel drive.
We’ve never liked CVTs and we were not that thrilled with this one either. But it did the job. When we needed to do a quick lane change, the 2020 Lexus NX 300h had enough oomph to do it quickly.
The crossover had blind-spot alert and it was needed. The closeness of cities is often transmitted to its expressways and it was no different in Houston. It was essential to know what vehicles were near and there were a lot of them.
Braking was good on the NXh. Cars and trucks were doing quick lane changes, evidently to get off at the right exit as well as to get on the right road. Not only were the regenerative brakes good but handling was better than average. There was no play in the steering, the crossover went where we steered it without hesitation.
Once we got to I-10 our thought was to set the adaptive cruise control and let the 2020 Lexus NX 300h take us here. But we hadn’t counted on a bunch of really big, long haul trucks. And Thanksgiving traffic didn’t start on Wednesday, it started on Saturday. This trip required concentration.
However, after we got away from metropolitan Houston, we set the cruise control and relaxed, a little. It took a while for us to learn what smart meant which was let the car slow itself down when a vehicle was ahead, rather than pressing on the brake and thus disengaging the system.
There were plenty of opportunities for what Lexus has branded All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to slow the car down, speed it up and keep pace with the stop and go traffic. In many ways, all need be done is to figure out a way for vehicles to steer themselves, a complicated undertaking, and autonomous cars are here.
We plugged in our iPhone and Apple CarPlay became available. We had set the NXh’s navigation to get out of Houston and we were playing the vehicle’s satellite radio. Though we left the navigation system on, we really did not need it. We’ve driven this route many times.
But as the trip wore on, we’d toggle between the sounds supplied by the NX’s satellite radio and those we had on our iPhone. It was easy because controls for Apple CarPlay, as well as Android Auto, came upon the NXh’s infotainment screen and the sound came through the vehicle’s speakers. We also used our phone through Apple CarPlay to make a couple of calls rather than the vehicle’s Bluetooth phone system.
When we got to Baton Rouge and went over the Mississippi River Bridge we turned south and headed to New Orleans. We had 45 minutes or so to go. That’s when the LED headlights really came into play and we appreciated the automatic high beams.
This was as dark a stretch of Interstate as we’ve seen in a while. But it is flat and straight. We cruised at more than 80 mph just to keep pace with the traffic, and there was still a lot of it.
Once we got here, we found the 2020 Lexus NXh was just as easy to handle on city streets as it was on the Interstate. We had stopped for fuel in Breaux Bridge, LA, thus, we were able to drive around this city for more than eight days. We didn’t gas up until it was time to go back to Houston.
The crossover’s EPA rating was 33 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined.
We had a sporty 2020 Lexus NX 300h. It had a black and red interior with gray stitching in the front and red stitching in the back. The front seats were heated and cooled and it had three ride modes: eco, normal and sport. You could also set it in pure EV mode but that wouldn’t last long, perhaps up to 25 mph.
The center console was a sloping affair. The infotainment screen was atop the dash, climate vents followed and then the climate controls. There was a round analog clock placed in the middle of the center stack. And the audio controls were beneath.
On the center console was a control pad, just behind the gear shifter. In the console, there were two USB jacks, an auxiliary jack, and a 12V plug.
The instruments were digital with white numerals reversed out of a black background. They had a three-dimensional feel because the odometer and speedometer had what looked like metal rings around the digital numbers. There was a small TFT screen between them.
There were paddle shifters, a moonroof, a camera that provided a 360-degree scan of the immediate surroundings plus an overhead view. This NXh also had an automatic power liftgate.
This crossover was very easy to drive. The streets here have been refashioned since Hurricane Katrina submerged most of the city. Thus, an awful lot of lumps, bumps, and swells were gone.
The front seats were comfortable, and the backseats were spacious. There were other creature comforts: voice controls and a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel. It had push-button start-stop as well as keyless lock and unlock.
The 2020 Lexus NX 300h, through its Enform app suite, can be integrated into a SmartWatch and Alexa. This was a right mix between luxury, fuel efficiency, performance, and practicality. For $50,822, it is not a bad purchase for car buyers at this price point.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com