Due to circumstances not entirely in my control, I have had the privilege of driving a 2017 Lexus NX200t for a few days. Now, Oppo, I have actual pictures of the things I am talking about!
This is the new NX. 3900 lbs and change of high-riding Lexus sales goals. FWD, a 2 liter turbo making 235 HP, with a six speed automatic transmission. Redline is 5800 rpm, and it rides on all season rubber mounted to 18" wheels.
Like Anna Nicole Smith’s anus during the autopsy, it’s unremarkable. It’s also white.
Mandatory TL;DR - it’s a soft, squishy, comfortable, torquey car on long legs. You could do a lot worse. McDildertits grade: B-
Cylon Face, Origami Ass
On the whole, the body’s visual look is consistent for Lexus’ current design ethos. It’s got weird angles everywhere, the rear lights, the weird Nike eyeliner LEDs in the front, the Cylon grille - I think the idea is to design it like some kind of futuristic spaceship, something a little between Star Trek and Star Wars. However, the whole design is let down by the fact that it’s just entirely too busy, like the designers were given one too many “Bring your child to work” days, and the 11 year old got their hands on the CAD and decided just to draw whatever they thought was cool. Like 80's hair, the thing is just overstyled to the point where from certain angles you would get convinced the car’s frame was visually trying to fool your eyes into some sort of optical illusion.
Overall, I’m not a fan, but it’s fine. It’s not the “fine” I espoused in the LC500 post I made. That was fine like a fine brandy that you’d just been introduced to. This is the fine when you get your sirloin steak and you realize they’ve cooked it medium instead of medium rare. “Just ask them to take it back,” your wife says, but no, you don’t want to ruin the mood or delay the timing of the food. “It’s fine, honey,” you respond. It’s that kind of fine - the grin-and-bear-it sort, the happy-just-to-be-here sort, the coffee-dog-in-hell sort. There’d be a hashtag for this, like #tolerating.
Hope you like Cookies and Cream
Did I mention I take terrible pictures? This is a pic of half of the dash I took right before the car in front of mine started to move. Since in this city, when the light turns green, that’s the signal of the two minute warning that you apparently get before you actually enter the intersection. Obviously, touching up your hair in the mirror should come first. But I digress.
The interior is awash with nothing but the most exquisite of beige tones. While most of the cabin is wrapped in what is probably actual leather, the weird hard plastic surfaces littered around the center console were kind of a surprise. I am used to my own car - soft touch plastics and things lined with padding and felt fabric for no reason. Even my F’s A pillar airbag shells are soft to the touch. Otherwise, the gauge cluster was well organized and brightly lit, with the center display adjustable to read your normal things, such as tire air pressure, your current and long term MPG, whether you are in Sport or Eco or w/e, and your regular old aggregate Odo.
Speaking of Sport and Eco, there is a knob on the center console for Eco, Normal, and Sport modes of driving. This knob might look nice for Joe Q. Lexusguy, but that knob has no real business being here. By the way, for people who want to know what the Eco and Normal modes of driving are like, ask someone else.
The shifter I found pleasant to use after the LC500's. It’s the traditional snake pattern masked by the shifter’s design, and the knob was easy to hold and didn’t get hot in the Phoenix sun. There were no paddles on the steering wheel, so I didn’t even bother trying manumatic mode.
I genuinely hate the electronic parking brake. To activate it, you have to tug on it for a second or two and the ebrake will engage, light the word ‘brake’ on the dash, and the little light on the P comes on. It takes way longer than pulling the handle or smashing a foot pedal, and you’re never entirely sure if anything really happened. And when you want to release it, you push the button down for another second or two, and the lights go off. It feels wrong and foreign for me. Another thing I also legitimately dislike is the Lexus touchpad. I don’t hate it as much as that nebulous e-brake, but it was annoying to try to navigate it while moving around. You have to focus too much on the pad or the screen’s pointer to really use it effectively without rigorous practice, and I found myself avoiding it whenever possible, especially when driving. However, pushing the Home button gave a nice summary display of my current music, my current GPS location, and my mpg, which was very handy without having to bounce through menus.
There was no 12V socket in the front of the dash. I only found one in the center console armrest container, next to the USB ports. The only other major thing I found missing was the automatic rain sensing wiper setting. Since I drove through mild rain yesterday, I was mildly surprised.
The display screen itself, which I don’t have a picture of, was nice and didn’t wash out from glare too much. The sound system was the best I have ever heard in a car - bar none. It even made my terrible music sound great. I’d like to have that system with me at all times. Another thing I was a little pleased by is when you shut off the car, the wheel tucks into the dash - seen that before - but the seat also moves backward to facilitate entry and egress. That’s new. Lastly, I’m not a fan of computers just for computers’ sake, but the blind spot warning sensors were pretty darn awesome for navigating traffic. I actually reset my side mirrors a little closer to the door - it was that good at telling me where the lane gaps were. I hate taking my eyes off the road for any reason, so being able to check without looking over my shoulder was really really nice. I wish I had it on my own car.
The cupholders are big, and the seats were pretty damn comfortable. This cabin is clearly geared for self-service comfort.
Wait, There Was Engine Noise?
So, how is that 2.0L Turbo? In a word, grunty. You mash the rather short travel gas pedal (binned to the LC500, no doubt) and after just a bit of hesitation from the transmission as it downshifts, you get the grunt. Max torque is made at 1500 rpm and the all important 60-80 mph passing transition was perfect for this torque curve. I tried a flat out run from a stoplight to 60 and it was... fine. It’s not slow, but there’s no difference in a straight line between this and my Crosstour shown above. But in the highway passing game, it gets high marks for its torque delivery. It feels - dare I say it - like a diesel? The push is good, but you’re not going to win against that V6 Mustang. Try it against a NC Miata - the spec sheet says that it should do 0-60 in 7 seconds flat. There really is no turbo lag here; the only lag this car really shows is what I call “wire lag,” where the transmission, electronic throttle mapping, and Playskool brand gas pedal conspire to save you gas instead of trying to help you goddamn live a little.
I honestly can’t remember how the engine sounded. It was like the sound of a bee at a picnic - out of the way, not memorable, and too unobtrusive to bother with.
I’m used to Lexus’ electric power steering tuning now, so the steering felt like what I normally drive at home. That was also adequate, but when turning aggressively there is a landslide of non-sporty body lean which basically damp any excitement you would get from it. In its defense, below the traction limit it does feel a bit more nimble than its size and weight would suggest, but not by much. Sight lines are decent, the rear is almost visible through the window (the backup camera on the screen works very well) and the entire thing feels like it could empower a soccer mom through just about anything - although it feels most at home waiting in a Starbucks drive-thru. The brake pedal was surprisingly progressive but a little squishy in the beginning, and they do the job of stopping pretty darn well for not being performance oriented.
The ride was quiet and serene nearly everywhere, including a bit of unpaved dirt road I wound up on. I suspect that that specific road is the closest that car will ever get to offroading, and the car actually seems pretty ok with that. Some of the poorly maintenanced highway road noise came through from the all season wheel meats, but the stereo was so good I didn’t care.
The engine is good, and during my driving runs I averaged 26.1 mpg over mostly highway miles, which is not bad for my lead foot. Still, I wouldn’t take this to my local autocross unless I was a clown and wanted to open the door and let 19 of my closest clown friends roll out.
Esta Bien, Todo Esta Bien
This car is so obviously for passenger and driver comfort and the focus is on the serene state of being that is driving around in a big Japanese Zen garden. Weird interior cost cutting choices aside it’s going to please anyone who just wants to lease a near-luxury ride to satisfy the wife or take the teen and his date to his prom. It rides well, cruises comfortably, and is at home in traffic and on the highway.
It’s “My Neighbor Totoro” without the magic. What you’re left with sans magical powers is just this big plushy teddy bear thing that can run up to 100 mph all day if you want it to. If you’re in it for the chills and thrills, get someone else to drive and sit in the back with an action movie on a tablet. If you enjoy the thought of driving around in a well built gigantic Oreo cookie shake, this might be the Lexus for you.