Lexus touts itself as the luxury brand that’s one step above Toyota. Whereas the stylized circular “T” brand focuses on utility and capability, Lexus badging represents sophistication and attention to detail — among other things. There are plenty of sedans and SUVs to choose from in the Lexus lineup, each with their own unique offering.
In this article, we’ll focus on the 2021 Lexus NX, the brand’s compact SUV. This model joins the UX, RX, LX, and GX in the crossover segment. It even includes a hybrid option along with traditional gas-powered powertrains. From the trim levels and optional packages, to safety features and fuel economy, we’ll show you what the 2021 Lexus NX offers. This guide can help you put the Lexus NX on your shortlist. Or if you’re not impressed, we can point you in a few other directions.
Lexus offers the 2021 NX in both front- and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims, except for the hybrid model. Speaking of the hybrid, this particular variant features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a trio of electric motors. That combines to make 194 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque. A continuously-variable transmission powers the hybrid, which actually has an impressive tow rate too. It can tow 1,500 pounds, when properly equipped.
If you prefer a gas engine, the NX offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder one. It’s capable of 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, this powerplant is capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.
Available Color Schemes
The 2021 NX is available in the following colors. Which one is your favorite?
- Eminent White Pearl
- Atomic Silver
- Nebula Gray Pearl
- Matador Red Mica
- Cadmium Orange
- Nori Green Pearl
Trimlines and Pricing
You can choose from multiple trim levels for your new NX. Although Lexus actually lists more on their website, some of them are simply AWD versions of the same trim they already listed.
Starting at $37,610, the base NX model includes dual-zone climate control, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, satellite radio, faux leather seating, roof rails, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth. Selecting AWD will take the pricetag up to $39,010.
300 F Sport
If you’re looking for sport-tuned suspension, aluminum pedals, a black headliner, and paddle shifters, choose this model. You’ll also enjoy heated and ventilated sport seats with enhanced bolsters, selectable drive modes, 18-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, and a turbocharger boost pressure display. The 300 F Sport version starts at $39,710. Adding in AWD bumped the price up to $41,110.
Navigation and a power moonroof aren’t the only upgrades to this model. Other high-class features include leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10.3-inch infotainment display, rain-sensing wipers, and a power liftgate. The NX Luxury is priced at $44,060 and $45,460 for FWD and AWD, respectively.
300h and 300h Luxury
The hybrid model is known as the 300h and starts at $40,160. Other than the powertrain, you’ll get basically the same features at the standard 300 model. Likewise for the $46,610 300h Luxury, which is just the regular NX 300 Luxury model, but with a hybrid engine. There’s one more option under the hybrid umbrella, though. You can opt for the $46,910 F Sport Black Line edition. You’ll still get hybrid power and standard AWD, but with some handsome cosmetic upgrades.
The good news is that you won’t have to worry about paying more for higher trims just to fill out the safety features list. Lexus actually installs quite a few safety systems from the factory.
Standard safety features on the 2021 NX include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, automatic high-beams, and traffic sign recognition. You will have to pay a bit more to round out the list to front and rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights, and a surround-view parking camera system. Still, that’s an excellent bundle of safety features included. Many other brands charge more for anything above the basics.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) both awarded the 2021NX top marks. In fact, the IIHS chose the model as a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ and accordingly rated it “Good” in all categories. The model also achieved a 5 out of 5 stars overall rating from the NHTSA.
You might think a turbocharged engine would struggle to make decent fuel economy numbers. However, the 2021 NX does pretty well for a compact SUV. That’s true even with the non-hybrid model.
Gas-powered variants of the 2021 NX make 22 city and 28 highway EPA-estimated miles per gallon (MPG) in both front- and all-wheel drive. Choosing the F Sport model lowers only the highway rate by one point. Hybrid models achieve 33 city and 30 highway MPG, even in standard all-wheel drive. All told, the 2021 NX contends well with rivals when it comes to gas mileage.
The option to purchase the 2021 NX with a hybrid powertrain helps to set it apart from the competition. Such adversaries include the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Lexus UX, Cadillac XT5, Volvo XC40, BMW X1 and X2, Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50, and the Jaguar E-Pace. All of these models can be considered luxury. Each one offers a certain sense of style and grace that may appeal to you. If you’re looking for a luxury SUV and aren’t brand loyal, you have a wide variety of choices to consider.
What Others Are Saying
So what sets the 2021 NX apart? CarAndDriver appreciated this Lexus model has the “proper SUV seating height” and “stands out for looking and driving the most like an SUV.” Edmunds noted the 2021 NX “makes a great road-trip vehicle,” especially with “lots of standard high-tech safety features.”
The “solid interior quality” impressed the folks at MotorTrend. Finally, Kelley Blue Book observed the 2021 NX has “equal measures of luxury, safety, and reliability.” Lexus resale values are also a selling point for most customers, especially those looking to upgrade in a few years’ time. In that regard, the NX also scores well.
Despite everything going for the 2021 NX, there are a few sticky points reviewers couldn’t help but point out. For instance, those good qualities weren’t enough for U.S. News to get over the “frustrating infotainment controls, meager cargo hold, and disappointing performance.”
Unfortunately, the infotainment system was a common gripe among experts. Hopefully Lexus will address this feature in next year’s model. Another area engineers might want to direct their attention to lies in the driving character the NX has — or rather, the lack of one.
Edmunds lamented that the 2021 NX is just “not much fun to drive.” U.S. News noted the 2021 NX does well off the line, but “struggles at higher speeds.” Cargo space is unremarkable. And although the exterior design is dynamic, the interior of the 2021 NX is “outshined by freshly redesigned rivals.”
The Last Word
In this article, we’ve shown you what Lexus has to offer on the 2021 NX. Overall, it’s a compact luxury SUV that continues the brand’s legacy. Well it might not be the perfect car for you, it’s definitely worth a extra look. With a excellent choice of powertrains and trims, to the standard safety features and fuel efficiency, the 2021 NX has a lot to offer anyone in the market for a crossover that goes the extra mile. Test drive the 2021 Lexus NX at your local Lexus dealership to find out for yourself. As always, check back with us for more details on all the newest models.