2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport: Don't tamper with success
When I first took delivery of the 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport , I did a double take. It looked exactly like the 2017 Lexus NX 200t F Sport I had tested almost two years ago, right down to the bright orange paint and black leather interior. Despite the slight name change, everything else seemed the same.
A little research convinced me that was largely true. For 2020, the next-generation Lexus Safety System 2.0 (LSS 2.0) driving assistance and collision avoidance technology is standard, a premium Mark Levinson audio system is available. Lexus added Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility to the NX during the 2019 model year.
But the lack of other significant changes is not a bad thing. Regardless of the exact name, the NX is a great compact luxury crossover, especially with the optional F Sport handling package. Lexus is smart to leave well enough alone, especially compared to a competitor who shall go unnamed that undermined their luxury compact crossover by reducing its performance capabilities a few years ago and has only recently brought them back.
Back in December 2017, my review said, "Over a week of testing, we consistently found the 2017 Lexus NX 200t F Sport entertaining to drive. It was fast off the line and able to easily merge into freeway traffic with pushed, but easy to control the rest of the time. The ride was a enjoyable compromise between firm and too firm, and the steering was quick and precise. The front leather bucket seat were wide enough to be comfortable despite their high bolstering. The rear seats were surprisingly roomy, too."
Since the 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport is not much different, all that still applies. Toyota, the parent company that owns Lexus, publicly promised to not build any more boring cars a few years ago, and that philosophy carries over to its upscale brand. With its bold, angular exterior styling and huge spindle grill, the NX line looks exciting standing still. And it drives as good as it looks, with the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine pumping out a health 235 horsepower that connects to all four wheels when needed through a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and manual shift mode. There's even a dial-up Sport mode for even better performance.
The interior offers something of a contrast that I appreciate. While some manufacturers are going for a minimalist look these days that moves more of the operations to the infotainment screen, Lexus retains an older multi-button and knob system with a tall center stack connected to an equally festooned console. Many operations can also be managed through a small touch pad that controls the infotainment screen if that is your preference. I personally like the look, although the touch pad takes a little practice to master, especially when moving.
That is my only reservation to recommending the 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport to anyone looking to buy a compact luxury crossover. You'll like everything else about it.
2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport
Base price: $40,360
Price as tested: $52,217
Style: Compact luxury SUV
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter 4 (235 hp, 258 ft-lbs)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters and manual shift mode
EPA fuel economy: 22/27
Length: 182.3 inches
Weight: 3,940 to 4,040 pounds
Final assembly point: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
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