2017 Lexus NX300h – Entry Level Luxury Aimed at the Ladies

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Lexus calls the color on this press car Autumn Shimmer. It sounds a lot like a shade of lipstick to me, and stands out as one of the most absurd color names in a category of intentionally absurd names created by marketing folk. (i.e. Cadillac’s Amberlite Firemist).

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EXTERIOR

The exterior looks deliberately inoffensive and stays true to the current Lexus trend of hard geometric design. I think the horizontal bars in the spindle grill are easier on the eyes than the “honeycomb” grill featured on the car’s big sister, the RX. Lexus must have agreed, because the 2018 version of the RX features a similar grill insert.

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INTERIOR

Thanks to an unnecessarily wide console, the front seats offer limited lateral leg room. The outside of my knees constantly rubbed the door panel and console. However, fancy ladies sit with their ankles crossed and knees together, so I guess it won’t be an issue. There’s lots of room in the console for loads of Avon samples. In a shamelessly sexist marketing ploy, Lexus included a compact mirror in the console. Just in case the rearview mirror, your cellphone, and the vanity mirrors built into the sun-visors just don’t represent enough shiny surfaces in which to fix your face.

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The infotainment features smartphone connectivity so you can easily call the cops on those smart aleck tweens for riding their wheelie boards on the sidewalk again. Unfortunately, Lexus didn’t spare owners of their smallest SUV from their trademark onerous stereo/navigation interface. Rather than a silly joystick however, the NX is fitted with a silly mousepad device. The window sill is too high to comfortably rest one’s elbow while driving, but that doesn’t matter because it will only be lowered at Starbucks and Chick-fil-A drive-thrus.

DRIVE

I wish I could say this car’s blatant, gender-specific marketing is redeemed by a saucy driving experience, but that’s not the case. In fact, it feels like an extension of the plan to appeal to 50-plus retirees. The steering has just enough resistance to reassure drivers, but not tucker them out and the ride is about as remarkable as a bowl of cold oatmeal. Put your foot in it and the area forward of the dash emits a buzzy, monotonous groan like a preteen asked to take out the trash. The revs go up and hold at a given mark while electric motors provide the rest of the passing power. The experience is underwhelming.

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THE DIRT

It might not be a Mary Kay Cadillac, but it certainly won’t embarrass you in front of the gals. Because it shares blood with a Toyota it’s likely to be long-lived (but why would you ever do that to yourself?), and thanks to the italicized on the grill the resale should be pretty good. But who wants the least fancy Lexus SUV? Even if all the options are ticked off it’s still not an RX. Why not get the top spec Toyota RAV-4, which offers more interior space and a less absurd infotainment interface? It just happens to be the same price as a base model NX.

 

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