Hybrid Home Run: The 2015 Lexus NX 300h

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Lexus NX 300h
The 2015 Lexus NX 300h. 
Whatever your opinion of the Toyota Prius, that car has given upscale corporate cousin Lexus a mighty weapon to use. The brand now offers seven of its models in "h" (for "hybrid) form, all based on the Prius' hybrid powerplant technology.  And the newest of these is the newest Lexus, the NX small crossover.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Lexus NX 300h
2015 Lexus NX 300h.

I reviewed the Lexus NX 200t F SPORT about three weeks ago. It is the turbocharged, gasoline-powered version of the NX, and it was sporty, comfortable (the NX, while a "small" crossover by today's standards, is actually a bit larger than the original 1998 RX 300, which has grown to be today's RX 350) and fairly economical, living up to the EPA fuel economy estimates of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway.

Add about $3,300, give or take, to the base price of an NX 200t F SPORT and you can make the move to the NX 300h, which, with its normally aspirated 2.5-liter four cylinder mated to an electric motor, gives a significant bump in fuel economy, at least in city driving.  The front-wheel drive NX 300h (base price $39,720) has an EPA estimate of 35 city/31 highway while the all-wheel drive model (base price $41,310) comes in slightly lower at 34 city/30 highway.

That may not seem earth-shattering in comparison to some other hybrid numbers, but 13 extra miles per gallon in a 14.8 gallon tank is an additional 192.4 miles of driving before a refueling stop.  If your driving is largely city driving, that might be an extra week, or two or three, depending on your commute, between fill-ups.

Interior view of 2015 Lexus NX 300h
2015 Lexus NX 300h interior.

For your roughly $40,000, you get a well-equipped (see features here) luxury small crossover, but as always with Lexus, you can make it even more luxurious.  The Luxury Package is a $4,665 option that adds linear black shadow wood interior trim, a perforated leather-trimmed interior, a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and a power rear door. It looks so good that I have no desire to rationalize the purchase. I would just want it.

$2,140 buys the Navigation Package, which includes voice recognition, a 7-inch high-resolution multimedia display, an all-new remote touchpad, the Lexus Enform app suite, a 10-speaker premium sound system and a second USB port.

Check every option box (premium triple-beam LED headlamps, pre-collision system with dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, intuitive parking assist, power folding and reclining rear seatbacks, a Qi-compatible wireless device charger, 19-inch F SPORT wheels, illuminated door sills, paint protection film, body side moldings, door edge guards, mudguards, a rear bumper protector, a carpeted cargo mat, alloy wheel locks, a cargo net and synthetic leather gloves for your key fobs and you can get the total price of an all-wheel drive NX 300h to a breathtaking $57,869 with destination and handling.  And there are probably a few of those fully-loaded models on dealer lots.

Our test vehicle was somewhat less lavishly equipped---a front-wheel drive model that had the Luxury Group, Navigation Package and a handful of other options that stopped just shy of $50,000, with an as-tested price of $49,363, including delivery processing and handling fee.

Exercise some restraint, however, and you can have a comfortable small crossover priced in the mid-$40,000s that can get 518 miles out of a tank of gas in stop-and-go city driving.  That's a compelling combination in this class of vehicle.  Once again, Toyota/Lexus' all-in stance on hybrids gives it a clear edge in a competitive segment.