Car Reviews

2015 Lexus NX200T car review

Robert Pepper’s 2015 Lexus NX200T car review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell: The Lexus NX200T is billed as a sporting all-wheel drive crossover, and it certainly looks the part. Oh, but it isn’t sporty…

2015 Lexus NX200T Sports Luxury

PRICE :  $72,500 (+ORC) WARRANTY : 4 years / 100,000 km SAFETY : 5 star (35.39 / 37, tested in 2015) ENGINE : 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder POWER : 175kW at 4800-5600 rpm TORQUE : 350Nm at 1650-4000 rpm  0-100km/h :  7.1 seconds TRANSMISSION : 6 speed automatic DRIVE :  On-demand all-wheel drive ANGLES : APPROACH 16.8, DEPARTURE 24.3 BODY :   4630 mm (L);  1870 mm (W),  1630 mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE :  12.1m WEIGHT :  1860 kg SEATS : 5 TOWING : 1000kg unbraked, 750kg braked FUEL TANK : 60 litres SPARE : space saver (Full size does not fit bay) THIRST : 7.9 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle FUEL : 95 RON PREMIUM UNLEADED

Editor's Rating

94%
The NX200T is not for dirt roads, offroading, towing, or despite Lexus' claims, sport driving. Put aside all of that though and you have a stylish, very comfortable, reasonably practical and certainly luxurious round-town cruiser that seems to exert an unusual charm on everyone who sees, drives or rides in it. It's also good value, as generally knowledgable people over-estimated the asking price by a good $10-$15,000. For those reasons we rate it highly as a city-based luxury cruising SUV, a job it does with assured panache.
94

On the outside

The NX200T reminds me of a wombat: squat and powerful looking. In typical Lexus style it manages to look a bit different to the average SUV, and Lexus’ corporate grill works well on a car this size. I really do like the way the front curves are matched to the rear haunches, and it doesn’t have any faux-off-roader try-hard rubbish like ridiculously flared wheel arches or look-at-me all-terrain badging.
 
Overall, I reckon it’s a good job by Lexus, distinctive without being polarising, appropriate for purpose, and it attracted quite a few favourable comments.
 
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In order to set the scene for the rest of the review let’s look at what this car is meant to be. Lexus claim on their website it “offers an exhilirating driving experience and will satisfy the performance demands of the most discerning motorist”, as well as other marketing lines like “Heart-racing F Sport” and “indulgent sports luxury”.  It makes no claim for off-road prowess, towing or other utiliarian capabilities. Our tester is the top-end Sports Luxury model.
 
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Room & Practicality

Starting from the front we have a big glovebox, centre console, and door side pockets. There’s no cubby for the likes of phones, or any other little nooks and crannies you find in many of this car’s competitors. In the second row there are door sidepockets, twin pockets on the back of the seats and a fold-down table. At the back there’s a one-piece tailgate that is electrically operated to reveal a flat storage area with some limited tie-down points. The parcel shelf is easily removeable and lifts up with the tailgate, and the cargo area is set at a convinent height for easy loading, like most SUVs. Interior lighting is quite good, and indeed as you approach the car with the key the lights come on automagically.
 
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The second row seats are a 40:60 split and electrically fold down to semi-flat, controlled either by switches on the seats themselves, next to the driver, or from the cargo area.
 
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A nice touch with the keyless entry is how any doorhandle can be touched to unlock the vehicle, not just a front door, and how the interior lights come on as soon as you move close to the vehicle.
 
This car is not an ultra-practical square-bodied load carrier, but as a luxury SUV it does well enough. It would easily handle the shopping and the needs of a young family around town but would start to perhaps run out of room if that same family wanted a weekend away.  Lexus could have put more effort into extra storage and improved rear seat fold-down, but let’s not start splitting hairs.

On the inside

The NX200T really is a luxury vehicle. It truly does have a lovely ambience, balanced styling, some of the most beautifully soft seats I’ve ever sat in; ones that you just want to stroke, and it’s all stylish two-tone cream and grey. The centre dash protrudes with lots of buttons, but somehow it works and Lexus make a virtue of it. After being critical of the RC F I’m happy to say I, and everyone else who sat in it, loved the NX200T’s interior.
 
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The kids were impressed with the electrically adjustable seatbacks, and thought there was a plenty of room in the back. Kid 1 gave it high marks for not being “showy-off-y” on the outside, yet comfortably luxurious on the inside. The rear seats, like the front ones, are brilliantly comfortable, and well made out of high quality materials. The NX really does give you a sense of being an upmarket car.
 
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The terrible Lexus touchpad I’ve grumbled about in other Lexus models we’ve tested is, again, present in the NX200T. You move your finger around on a pad to operate the infotainment unit. This was a bad idea in the RC F and RC350, and it’s still a bad idea in the NX200T but it is better for three reasons: first, there’s a wrist rest; second, the pad is further forward so you don’t need to bend your arm back; and third, the ride is softer so you don’t accidentally end up dialling people you’d rather not speak to.
 
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The infotainment unit itself is a bit of a let-down given the class of car and its high standards.
 
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Lexus include this pull-out mirror.  I thought perhaps it might be a signalling mirror for when you’re lost, but that’s not in keeping the the NX’s theme so I guess not.
 
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There was a suggestion the mirror might be a tool to help women to apply makeup. A swift bit of research, however, indicated that most females would prefer the sunvisor mirror. So we don’t know why the mirror exists, but it’s pretty cool that it does.
 
As usual, Lexus hasn’t managed to place all the buttons in logical groups or even make them visible.  The odo and instrument light level controls shown below are hidden behind the steering wheel.  The centre diff lock button is of course a long way from other driving controls. To the left of the steering wheel are the HUD controls… again hidden by the steering wheel. You’d work around it once you’re familiar, but it’s still poor design.
 
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Here’s the centre console with an inductive phone charger, 12v socket and USB. Which is charging my phone.
 
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The steering wheel and seat slides back to permit easier access as soon as you stop the car.  The centre dash enroaches into the cabin to create a kind of cockpit feeling. The infotainment unit display is nicely heads-up so your attention is not diverted too far from the road to look at it.
 
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For some reason the rest of the family loved this car on first sight.  Actually, not for “some reason” – they loved the comfort, styling, spaciousess, gadgets and pretty much everything else. I must admit I agree, if I didn’t enjoy driving it’d be high up on my list of vehicles to own.

Performance, ride and handling

Around town: The NX200T has enough power to move off the line smartly, has good visibility all round and lots of safety aids. The ride is supremely comfortable and makes the Camry feel like a boneshaker.  While the all-wheel drive system is mostly really front-drive, it does provide extra grip over a plain two-wheel-drive vehicle. There is a reversing camera (more on that later) and excellent surround-camera system as below:

RMP_9287 RMP_9294

Here’s the HUD, or Heads Up Display.  It can show you speed, volume control, gearshift and revs.  It is genuinely useful as a safety aid in that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to see the things you really need to know when you’re driving.

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The downsides? Just one really, a large 12.1m turning circle which is about a metre too large.  Not a huge problem but not great either. Overall though, the NX200T is very much in its element in the city.

Fast rural roads: Let’s dispense with Lexus’ claims first. Their website claims that the NX200T is thrilling, has exhiliratig performance, and will set your heart racing. Indeed, the NX200T has not only a Sport mode, but also a Sport Plus mode.

Now let me tell you the reality. The NX200T isn’t going to do any racing of your heart or otherwise and is no more sporty than my RM Williams boots. The super soft suspension rocks the car backwards even under the car’s mediocre power, then there’s nosedive under brakes, bodyroll leading to understeer and an early washout of grip, followed by unwanted power feedback through the steering wheel as you attempt to exit a corner.  If you want a sporty drive in an SUV I suggest you give the NX200T a miss and head direct for your local BMW, Land Rover or Audi dealer. The fact the car has a Sport+ mode is like giving the V8 RC F an economy mode. The Sport+ mode doesn’t make much difference and is best viewed as a marketing gimmick only, at least on this vehicle.
 
I only wrote the above because Lexus make the claims they do.  But that doesn’t meant to say the NX200T is a bad drive, because it’s actually very good at cruising. It has a magic carpet softness of ride, is very stable, viceless and extremely easy to drive around town and on long cruises.   The interior lends itself towards comfort and ease, with lots of modern electronic driving ads such as active cruise control and lane depature warning. The gearshift is smooth and intelligent, so you would never need to take control yourself but should you wish there’s paddle shifts. Mrs P says it is quiet, very smooth riding and comfortable. Incredibly, she didn’t dimiss the Lexus in a sniff as “boring” as she normally does with such vehicles.  
 
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dirt roads: Normally when you find a comfy on-road vehicle it does well on dirt roads because pliant, flexible suspension is what you want on dirt. 

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Not in this case. For some reason the NX does not ride well on dirt. It also struggles to put its front-drive biased power down, with reasonably frequent and heavy intervention from stability control which deadens the throttle. I had comments from the back seat passengers about the car’s rear-end feeling loose and we weren’t even going fast. So we’re clear, it’s really a front-driver pretending to be an all-wheel-drive.

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That said, the NX200T does have clearance for dirt roads and if you cruise very slowly it’s fine.  But to be honest I was more impressed with the Camry on dirt roads and if this is your terrain there are far better premium SUVs on the market such as Land Rovers, the LX570, and most others.

Off-road: I doubt you will find another NX200T off-road test anywhere. And to be fair, Lexus are entirely silent on the NX’s off-road abilities so in a way it was not right to take it off-road. On the other hand…it is all-wheel drive and has a button which locks, or claims it locks the centre differential system. So, off the road we go.

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Spoiler alert! The NX200T is not in any way shape or form an off-roader.

The justification: very poor axle flex, limited  with indifferent traction control. As soon as the traction control starts to work the stability control cuts in and stops it being effective.  It is possible to switch the stabiity control off… but it also switches traction control off and without traction control there’s insufficient suspension travel to put power to the ground. We didn’t try any slippery surface work like snow or mud, but this characistics would make the NX a poor performer on both so don’t think of it as a snow bunny. There is also limited clearance and no hill descent control system. 

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Towing: We didn’t tow with the NX200T and frankly, you’re not going to either because it’s rated for a mere 1000kg braked, which means you’re going to have to find the lightest of camper trailers, and even our long-termer i30 small hatch can manage 1300kg.  So 1000kg is incredibly low for an all-wheel-drive SUV that weighs 1860kg. There is a towbar available but if pulling trailers is your goal, this is clearly not your car. At least the GCM is more than the sum of the GVM and max tow weight, so you can pretty much tow your 1000kg with a heavy load in your NX200T.

Quality

Built like a leather-lined tank.

Pricing & Equipment

Our tester was the Sports Luxury.  Here’s the range:

 Drivetrain

  Model

RRP*

2WD

Luxury

$52,500

4WD

Luxury

$57,000

4WD

F Sport

$63,500

4WD

Sports Luxury

$72,500

The base model is the Luxury.  I would buy the 2WD version – yes, I said that – because if you ever think you’ll take your NX to any situation that requires 4WD then you are buying the wrong car.  Here’s the Luxury trim spec:

– satellite navigation
– reverse camera and parking sonar (front and rear)
– new touch-sensitive Lexus Remote Touch controller
– power rear tailgate
– drive mode select (ECO, NORMAL and SPORT)
– heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment
– LED low beam headlamps and fog lamps
– cruise control
– rain-sensing wipers
– 18-inch alloy wheels
– Smart Start
– 10-speaker audio with dual USB inputs, DAB+ and Bluetooth
– tyre pressure warning sensors
– electro-chromatic interior mirror (auto dimming)
– six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission
– premium steering wheel
– power steering column adjust
– electric park brake, and
– Dynamic Torque Control AWD (on the all-wheel drive model).

However, if you want more kit than the base model, here’s what you get in the F Sport:

– adaptive variable suspension (with sports calibration)
– 360-degree panoramic view monitor
– four mode drive mode select (ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORTS+)
– wireless induction charger for phone and mobile devices~
– blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert
– paddle shifters
– performance dampers (front and rear)
– unique exterior styling (bumpers, wheels and grille)
– unique interior styling (F Sport pedals, steering wheel, scuff plates, gear lever)
– all-LED headlamps
– 10-way power seats (cooled and heated) with driver memory function, and
– electro-chromatic exterior and interior mirrors.

Out of that lot only safety gear (in bold)  is really of interest.  The performance car things…again if a sporty drive is what you want, the NX is not for you.  There is an interesting option pack: Pre-collision safety system, all-speed active cruise control, Lane Departure Warning, full-colour heads-up display, Mark Levinson 14-speaker premium audio, auto high beam, smart key card and moonroof. This adds some useful safety and convience gear so would definitely be worth a look.

And then we have Sports Luxury, our tester and top of the range which offers:

– leather-accented interior
– pre-collision safety system
– all-speed active cruise control
– adaptive variable suspension
– 360-degree panoramic view monitor
– four mode drive mode select (ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORTS+)
– wireless induction charger (for phone and mobile devices)
– blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert
– performance dampers (front and rear)
– Lane Departure Warning
– full-colour heads-up display
– Mark Levinson 14-speaker premium audio
– LED headlamps with auto high beam
– electro chromatic exterior and interior mirrors
– 10-way adjustable, heated and cooled front seats with driver memory
– smart key card
– moonroof, and
– woodgrain-look ornamentation.

The safety features are again the highlight.

That said, the all NX200T range is good value because it’s a very well built vehicle with lots of useful features that offers a properly luxurious, top-end ambience.  There are other SUVs of the same size for less money, but none offer the quality and ambience of the NX.

Safety

The NX200T scored a 5-star rating in 2015, and has a raft of advanced safety features described above, but not all in the lower models. The reversing camera looks like this:
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As you can see, the guidelines move with the car, and in the case of the Luxury Sport there’s the surround camera view too.  Hard to get parking wrong with this.
 
The spare tyre is a space saver, and you can read about our little adventure with it. There is a tyre pressure monitoring system but unfortunately it doesn’t tell you what the pressures are, and doesn’t tell you which tyre is below pressure.  You have to figure that our for yourself.

 

Lexus NX200T Gallery

Find the best demonstrator car deals for Practical Motoring readers around Australia on our Live Deals website. 


6 Comments

  1. AUSDAVIDZ
    September 4, 2015 at 8:57 am — Reply

    Here is my review on its sister model:

    I had a NX300H Sports out all day today, of course I went off road with it, raced up Arthurs Seat hill climb, then attempted maximum MPG, and finally maximum EV range trial
    I did not like the way [till I got use to it] it feels driving off in EV mode, the go pedal needs a good push to move and it really feels flat and like a slug, by midday when use to it all was good though.

    I can report it is dust proof, climbs steep loose dirt off road hills with ease [a car would not] love the way it switches off at stops, also you cannot really tell by feel if its running electric or ICE, great engineering job done.

    If you want to run on EV only you need to be gentle on the go pedal away from stops otherwise the ICE kicks in, I think it does about 1500m range on EV, the problem is on the road drivers behind would be annoyed if you try driving gentle to keep it in EV mode.

    The square panel [in front of a removable mirror!] adjusts all the function is a bit figgity for mine, I would have preferred simple swipe on the screen like a cell phone

    The 2nd lid in the centre console has a pad type phone charger, but falls down when you lift it?

    This was a Sport edition so I think they went for a firmer suspension setting and lower profile tyre, I would go standard, I am chasing a softer ride with more comfort

    I would have liked to do a more accurate mileage/fuel test but it took me to long to figure out how to drive it and navigate all the electronic display/functions, all I can say it is very very impressive on low fuel use, it did show a day average of 6l/100km esp. when you consider at times I went nuts
    I did give it a real proper “good go” up Arthurs Seat, pushed it hard, was about the only time I flicked it into Sports+ setting, handled very nice and good grip for high riding SUV

    Mark L stereo system is superb, as is the fit/finish quality of all interior fittings, paint, plastics etc, a real premium vehicle, low vibration and noise, smooth as…it is a LEXUS!

    Highly recommended, 8.75/10

    • AUSDAVIDZ
      September 4, 2015 at 9:49 am — Reply

      Forgot to mention, i dont like Toyotas lever of the cruise control on a stalk all its own hidden behind the steering, sure its time to fit these on the steering wheel like everybody else

  2. Pss
    September 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm — Reply

    I’m not aware of a ‘fold-out table’ in the NX. Any pictures?

    • September 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm — Reply

      Look in the gallery marked Armrest, as it is also an armrest.

      • Pss
        September 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm — Reply

        Ah yes. Thanks!

  3. AUSDAVIDZ
    September 13, 2015 at 1:11 am — Reply

    THE LEXUS COVENANT

    Lexus will enter the most competitive,
    prestigious automobile race in the world.
    Over 50 years of Toyota automotive experience
    has culminated in the creation of Lexus cars.
    They will be the finest cars ever built.

    Lexus will win the race because:
    Lexus will do it right from the start.
    Lexus will have the finest dealer network
    in the industry.
    Lexus will treat each customer as we would
    a guest in our home.

    If you think you can’t, you won’t …
    If you think you can, you will!

    We can, we will.
    AMEN!

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper