2021 Lexus NX

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
November 3, 2020

Buying tip

The thrifty NX300h would be our pick, but brasher drivers will take the NX300 F Sport and the lipstick-red leather interior.

features & specs

NX 300 AWD
22 city / 28 hwy
22 city / 27 hwy
22 city / 28 hwy

The dramatic shape of the 2021 Lexus NX have stayed fresh—and so has its hybrid mileage.

What kind of car is the 2021 Lexus NX? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Lexus NX is a five-seat luxury crossover SUV that compares with vehicles such as the BMW X3, Acura RDX, and Infiniti QX50.

Is the 2021 Lexus NX a good car?

Review continues below

It’s well above average, thanks to a high-quality interior and an available hybrid model. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

What’s new in the 2021 Lexus NX?

Blind-spot monitors now are standard across the board. Not much else has changed with the 2021 NX, which still bristles with angles and creases and a huge hourglass grille that defy the calm, cool Lexus styling efforts of just a few years ago. Inside it’s slightly more tame, until it pulls its red-leather pants out of the closet for a night out.

The driving’s more tame than its wardrobe, but even the 235-horsepower turbo-4 in the NX300 delivers acceleration worthy of a luxury brand. It’s shipped to the front or all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic, and this NX can hit 60 mph in about seven seconds, according to Lexus. Plan ahead more with the NX300h hybrid, which takes longer to reach highway speeds but does so with greater efficiency and smoother operation. In either case, the NX offers more buttoned-down handling in F Sport models than in Luxury versions, and better damped in the hybrid thanks to more curb weight.

Lexus wraps the front passengers in well-sculpted seats and surrounds them with nicely fitted trim. The rear seats are wide enough for two, not three, average-size adults; cargo space is ample with the rear seats up (17.7 cubic feet) or down (54.6 cubic feet). Good crash-test scores combine with standard safety gear to add luster to the NX. 

How much does the Lexus NX cost?

The 2021 NX300 with front-wheel drive costs $38,535 and comes with an 8.0-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, power features, and synthetic leather upholstery. 

How much is a fully loaded Lexus NX?

The top $41,805 NX300h hybrid can be optioned even higher with Mark Levinson audio and a surround-view camera system.

Where is the Lexus NX built?

In Japan.


2021 Lexus NX


The Lexus NX wears its near-vintage rakish look like brand-new couture.

Is the Lexus NX a good-looking car?

We think so. Admittedly, you’ll need to be a fan of brazen looks to be an NX fan. Count us in. It’s a point extra for the interior and one for the exterior, for a 7 here.

The NX still looks good, and not just for a design that’s more than a half-decade old. It’s still unpredictable what people will answer when you ask, “Who makes this car?” Lexus might not even be on the list.

The NX ditches the curves that would have wrapped around it back in 2005 or even 2010. Now it’s all brash angles and hard surfaces, a big hourglass grille, big wheels, and body add-ons aplenty. It works even better in bright colors; it’s a natural attention-seeker, after all.

It’s slightly less outrageous inside, where a tablet-like display rests atop a mostly symmetrical dash with rows of neatly organized buttons and splashes of colorful trim. Those pieces keep the interior from looking inexpensive and mundane at the same time. Strike out and choose the tan and bright red leather; the inky standard hues can make the NX cockpit seem more cramped than it is.

Review continues below

2021 Lexus NX


Peak performance in the Lexus NX means hybrid miles per gallon.

Lexus sells the NX in hybrid and non-hybrid trim. The hybrid’s slower, a little louder, but far more efficient; in the more common gas-only model, strong acceleration meets up with pleasant road manners for a score of 6 here.

Lexus fits a 235-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the NX300. It pairs with a 6-speed automatic to ship power to the front or to all four wheels. The latter system’s a simple setup meant to boost all-weather traction, not to guide the NX over Moab’s boulder trails. 

How fast is the Lexus NX?

As for the turbo-4, Lexus promises 0-60 mph acceleration in about seven seconds, but the engine’s not as smooth or refined as those in other Lexus vehicles. Turbo lag also comes into play; it can seem unpredictable when the turbocharger spools up additional power after an initial delay.

We prefer the drivability of the NX300h hybrid, though it’s slower off the line than the turbo-4. The hybrid couples a 2.5-liter inline-4 with a battery pack and two electric motors for seamless power from a stoplight and well managed transitions in speed thanks to an electronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Acceleration is confident enough, though it won’t outrun the base model—but the hybrid can be held in electric-only mode for short distances at low speeds when the battery holds enough charge.

Is the Lexus NX 4WD? 

All-wheel drive is an option on the turbo-4 NX300; it’s standard on the NX300h, where the car’s electric motors power the rear wheels while the engine works the front wheels.

Ride and handling put the Lexus NX in the middle of the luxury-compact segment. It has 

limited body lean and responsive, light steering that’s appropriate to its size. An F Sport package adds bigger wheels and sporty body add-ons as well as a slightly stiffer suspension and a Sport+ drive mode that holds engine revs higher and pipes in more engine noise into the cabin. We’d skip it, but it does make available a set of adaptive dampers that quell the ride motions of the stiffer setup.

With the proper configuration, the NX can tow up to 2,000 pounds. 

Review continues below

2021 Lexus NX

Comfort & Quality

Front-seat comfort and cargo room are good, but the NX’s rear seat is cramped.

We give the NX a couple of extra points for the versatile space in back and for those well-bolstered seats, and end up at a 7 for comfort.

The NX has ample space for those who ride in front. It provides them with multi-adjustable bucket seats that feel comfortable whether they’re shod in synthetic leather or real hides. Opt into an F Sport and the seats get more adjustment and thicker bolsters. 

The back seat has 36.1 inches of leg room, but the NX’s roofline trims almost an inch of valuable head room when fitted with the sunroof; taller passengers might have to slouch to be comfortable. Two adults can fit across, but a third will make everyone wish they’d driven themselves.

The back seat folds down to boost cargo room from 17.7 cubic feet to 54.6 cubic feet. 

Fit and finish in the NX seems fine, with attractive materials and good attention to detail.

Review continues below

2021 Lexus NX


The NX’s strong crash-test results speak for themselves.

How safe is the Lexus NX?

The NX crossover fares well in crash-testing, enough to score an 8 here. 

The NHTSA has given the NX five stars overall, with a four-star score in its frontal-collision tests. The IIHS says it’s “Good” in all crash tests and has good headlights, so it’s a Top Safety Pick+.

Every NX has standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. A surround-view camera system is a relatively inexpensive option—one that’s recommended since the NX’s thick pillars limit the driver’s view to the rear.

Review continues below

2021 Lexus NX


Lexus’ infotainment distracts us, but its standard NX gear attracts us.

The Lexus NX gets kudos for all the standard equipment that comes with each version, for a long options list, and for good warranty coverage—but we can’t get with its infotainment program. It’s a 7 for features.

Which Lexus NX should I buy?

We recommend either the base front-drive version or the hybrid.

The NX300 and NX300h come equipped nearly identically, save for the NX300’s available front-wheel-drive version (hybrids only come with all-wheel drive). The $38,535 NX300 has standard keyless start, synthetic leather upholstery, power front seats, and an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. All-wheel drive costs $1,400. An F Sport package gets sport seats and a sport-tuned suspension—but we prefer the Luxury package that adds leather upholstery, a power tailgate, a 10.3-inch display, and heated and cooled front seats. 

How much is a fully loaded Lexus NX?

The NX300h Hybrid starts from $41,085 and can be bundled with Luxury features.

Other options include a surround-view camera system and Mark Levinson audio. 

We like Lexus’ big display screens, but their touchpad interface for infotainment can be frustrating to use and difficult to learn, as it mimics a mouse interface. 

What we like better: Lexus’ reputation for service, which comes coupled with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and the car’s first two scheduled service calls included for free.

Review continues below

2021 Lexus NX

Fuel Economy

The Lexus NX sips fuel as a hybrid, but it’s less conscientious without batteries.

Is the Lexus NX good on gas?

Both versions sip fuel, but the hybrid sips a lot less. 

The Lexus NX sells more widely in its non-hybrid version, the NX300—and that means a lower green score of 4 here. The EPA pegs the front-drive NX300 at 22 mpg city, 28 highway, 25 combined; all-wheel drive drops that to 22/28/24 mpg, and F Sport add-ons push it down to 22/27/24 mpg.

We’d pick the Hybrid if we were you. It’s rated at 33 mpg city, 30 highway, 31 combined. 

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
MSRP based on NX 300 FWD
Change Style
See Your Price For 2022
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
Compare the 2021 Lexus NX against the competition
  • 2021 Acura RDX

    Compare Cars
  • 2021 BMW X3

    Compare Cars
  • 2021 INFINITI QX50

    Compare Cars
  • 2020 Jaguar E-Pace

    Compare Cars
  • 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

    Compare Cars
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Lexus NX?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from The Car Connection. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.