2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport: Like Origami From Tiffany & Co.

Lexus created the luxury crossover segment with the 1998 RX – a tall wagon with the utility of an SUV and the comfort of a Lear Jet.  It quickly became bank for Lexus and the vehicle all others cribbed.  A smaller crossover, the NX200t, aims for younger trend-setters who previously might have thought of Lexus as their parents’ ride.

2015 Lexus NX200t F SportFaceted, athletic styling looks like it was created by an origami Phenom at Tiffany’s, but proportions and windowlines connect it to the RX.  LED headlamps and taillamps gleam like diamonds.  It looks best in F-Sport trim that showers the car with a sinister vibe derived from a more aggressive mesh grille and lower bumper, sportier wheels, black exterior mirrors, and unique 18” alloy wheels.  Yeah, definitely get the F-Sport package if you have a little loose change.

Slide between the creases and the overwhelming feeling is of being surrounded with leather – the good, soft Lexus kind.  Deeply-bolstered and heated sport seats are part of F-Sport, but the silky heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, sewn dash/door coverings, and roomy rear seats convey luxury.  It’s alluring.  I tend to prefer German luxury over Japanese equivalents, but Lexus is seductive.

2015 Lexus NX200t F SportThere’s also a full suite of technology.  To control the infotainment system, that includes navigation and a suite of apps, one uses a touchpad mouse and screen mounted high in the dashboard.  Smartphones can be charged via USB ports or a wireless charging tray in the console.  Our loaded vehicle also spoiled us with a power tilt/telescoping steering column, 10-speaker premium audio, Bluetooth calling/audio streaming, power moonroof, and power rear hatch.  Safety is enhanced with a backup camera, blind spot monitor, and rear cross path detection.  And despite all of this, Lexus designers saw fit to put proper knobs for volume and tuning below the touchscreen.  

Should your little green heart desire, the NX is available as a hybrid, but our slightly thirstier version came with an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 235 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque – routed to the all-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.  Fuel economy is rated 22/27-MPG city/hwy.  OK, so, if you want outstanding fuel economy, explore the hybrid.

2015 Lexus NX200t F SportYou could get better fuel economy without AWD, but I’m not sure you would want to.  The NX’ Dynamic Torque Control system provides all-weather capability, but employs sensors for speed, steering angle, steering speed, throttle, and yaw rate to optimize torque between wheels for maximized handling.  In other words, it enjoys slicing through two-lane backroads and corners like no Lexus SUV or crossover before – especially with the F-Sport’s stiffer suspension.  Lexus’ Drive Mode Select system uses a console knob to adjust throttle and steering feel for Normal (default), Eco (saves fuel), and Sport (leave it there).

The NX200t is bound to become a neatly-creased jewel among compact luxury crossovers.  It’s fun to drive (if a little under powered), stylish (if controversial), and loaded with the latest luxury accoutrement (if that’s your thing).  If Lexus is looking to attract a younger and more urban driver, this should do it.  A base price of $34,480 or $45,313 as-tested puts it against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKC, and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

Storm Forward!

2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport
Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
Powertrain: 235hp 2.0-liter Turbo-4, 6-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Luxury
Fuel economy: 22/27 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Japan
Base/as-tested price: $34,480/45,313