By Larry Lark, contributor
The 2021 Lexus NX 300h luxury sports utility vehicle provides owners guilt-free mobility.
The lower-case h is the key. This hybrid seats up to five adults in comfort with a generous cargo area behind. It delivers four-wheel functionality and all the creature comforts one can imagine, and at the same time get more than 40 miles per gallon fuel economy down the highway.
Lexus hybrids have long been the platinum standard for seamless hybrid performance, high efficiency and proven dependability. Granted, my week’s driving was mostly freeway miles, but that’s hard to believe.
The NX 300h combines output from a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and a high-torque electric motor through its unique transmission. The system varies power between the gas engine and electric motor, or combines both as needed. The result is a combined 194 system horsepower.
Regenerative braking changes the electric motor to a generator that captures the kinetic energy of the wheels when the brake is applied, storing it in the nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery pack. In EV drive mode, under certain conditions, the NX 300h can run solely on the electric motor at lower speeds (below approximately 25 mph).
The NX 300h offers an Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence (AWD-i) as standard. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels, the system employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.
This year’s model is offered in Nori Green Pearl (the color of my tester), and includes the addition of a Blind Spot Monitor wit Rear Cross Traffic alert as standard equipment.
Luxury features are everywhere, highlighted by the NX 300h’s perforated, leather-trimmed interior with heated and ventilated seats, navigation system with 10.3-inch display, power moonroof and rear door, linear black shadow wood trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, Mark Levinson premium audio system with 14 speakers, and intuitive parking assist.
Lexus multimedia connectivity is at a premium with Apple CarPlay functionality and Android Auto compatibility. With Android Auto, guests can now seamlessly cast their device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display. Play music via their favorite apps such as Spotify and Pandora, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp, navigate with Google Maps or Waze, and request information – all with just the sound of their voice – through Google Assistant.
Designers carved out maximum space with the NX design, leaving 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 available power rear door, which includes memory height, likewise can be operated by switches on the instrument panel, door and wireless remote.
Completing the NX 300h package is a Lexus Safety System suite that includes lane tracing assist, road sign assist, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, eight airbags, push-button start/stop, and a backup camera with dynamic guidelines.
Base Price: $47,535
Price As Driven: $52,855
Destination charge is included in base price Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.