2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Premium Review and Test Drive

2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Premium Review and Test Drive

My how time flies! This week I bring you the 2020 Lexus NX -- a model I last reviewed for the 2018 model year. Back then it was the brand’s entry-level crossover. But that spot now goes to the new UX. The 5-passenger NX now slots between the UX and the larger, best-selling RX. This is the F Sport trim equipped with the F Sport Premium package, a lot of extras, and optional all-wheel drive.

New for 2020

I’m thrilled to report that for the first time you can get the NX with an optional 14-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system. (I was not a huge fan of the standard 8-speaker system in the 2018 model.) Android Auto also comes to the NX lineup for vehicles built after October 1, 2019. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel is now standard as well and my test vehicle’s Cadmium Orange hue is new to the lineup.

Exterior

The NX is essentially a smaller RX. It’s a chiseled, sporty looking small crossover and you can tell it’s an F Sport thanks to its unique front end with a black honeycomb grille, cornering fog lights and chrome bar that stretches across the front bumper. It rides on 18-inch F Sport wheels and sports larger exhaust openings in the rear. My test vehicle is equipped with optional triple-beam LED headlights with adaptive front lighting.

Powertrain

A 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 235-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Confident acceleration and overall power along with braking all felt great. A 6-speed automatic transmission performed better than I expected though I still think Lexus should update it to improve performance and increase fuel economy from its current 24 combined.

Driving Dynamics

Lexus places ride quality first over handling. Its ride is comfortable, cushiony and what I’d call pillowy. But the F Sport trim is not quite as soft as other Lexus vehicles (meaning I felt a bit more of the road with its stiffer, sport-tuned suspension.) The F Sport’s front and rear performance dampers improve handling stability and ride comfort, while reducing noise from vibration, which there was more of than I expected. This vehicle is also equipped with available Adaptive Variable Suspension derived from the LC 500. It’s not what I’d call a sporty ride but Sport and Sport+ modes do enhance the driving dynamics.

Interior

The 2020 NX cabin matches that of the 2018. You’re greeted by quality craftsmanship, a lot of soft touch materials and this F Sport features a metallic trim. Black F Sport NuLuxe power adjustable bolstered seats provide just the right amount of support and comfort. I’d even say these are some of my favorite Lexus F Sport seats. They are heated and ventilated in this model thanks to the Premium package.

A perforated, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel is equipped with paddle shifters and controls for a 4.2-inch digital driver display. (I have to admit I was hoping for an updated display from the 2018 model.) You can view real-time performance with the Lexus-first G-Force meter “G-ball” in the Multi Information Display. Gauges in the F Sport feature full-length illuminated needles.

The interior is user-friendly and controls are easy to reach. The center stack sports AC controls (you can also control them through the multi-media system.) The center console is home to a leather-wrapped gear shifter, drive mode select, electric parking brake and brake hold. You’ll find two USBs up front.

This NX is equipped with the optional Navigation/Mark Levinson 14-speaker sound system and the audio system is fantastic. The accompanying high-resolution 10.3-inch multimedia split-screen offers great colors and graphics along with mapping quality. It’s also fast and responsive via Lexus’ remote touch pad interface. It’s a system Lexus has improved over recent years, making movements more precise, and I now find it easy to use, (though I’m hoping it will get touch screen functionality in the future like the updated 2020 RX.) I had great luck using the optional Dynamic Voice Command, an improvement over the 2018’s offerings. You’ll find Android Auto in vehicles built after Oct. 1, 2019, along with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.

Other F Sport features include aluminum pedals and F Sport door scuff plates.

Utility

The NX fit my needs just right, and there was plenty of headroom. The backseat is comfy but could be tight for three adults. Back seat passengers get their own air vents, a drop-down console with cup holders and padded armrests. 60/40 split rear seats recline manually. I found the optional kick sensor tailgate easier to operate than on the larger RX. In the trunk, you’ll find storage bins beneath the cargo floor.

Safety

The NX comes with Lexus’ latest standard safety system Lexus 2.0 + that now includes Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist. You’ll pay extra for a panoramic camera, Parking Assist with automatic braking and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

What You’ll Pay

This F Sport trim starts at $40,360 but with roughly $13,000 in options including: the Premium F Sport package ($2,865), Mark Levinson/Nav system ($2920), paint ($595), panoramic view backup monitor ($800), parking assist ($535) and foot-activated liftgate ($550) and a Glass Breakage sensor ($329), you’re past the $53K mark.

Verdict

The reliability of the Lexus badge, its residual value, and premium features along with its ride quality and optional new Mark Levinson sound system make the NX F Sport as equipped worth a look if you’re looking for a premium, well-equipped small SUV.

2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Premium

  • What I liked most: 14-Speaker Mark Levinson Sound System, Nuluxe Sport Seats.
  • What I would change: Still need to update the 6-speed automatic, update the driver display.
  • NX F Sport MSRP: Base price $40,360. $53,073 as equipped.
  • Fuel Economy: 22 City/ 27 Highway/24 combined.
  • Fuel Tank: 14.8 gallons of required Premium with filler on the driver’s side.
  • Dimensions: 182.3” long/ ” 83.9 in. (mirrors unfolded) wide/ 64.8” high.
  • Weight: 4,180.
  • Maximum Towing: 1,500 lbs.
  • Miles When Tested: 4,362.
  • Official Color: Cadmium Orange ($595).
  • Spare tire: Compact Spare.
  • Final Assembly Point: Tahara, Aichi, Japan.
  • 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport in a few words: A mini-version of the best-selling SUV in America, the Lexus RX.
  • Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain coverage. 24-hour roadside assistance; 6-year corrosion perforation protection coverage, regardless of mileage.
  • Manufacturers website: Lexus
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