2019 Lexus NX 300h
Frank Washington | 11/18/2019, 3:52 p.m.
The Lexus NX 300h is yet another hybrid from the luxury automaker.
This one combines the output of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and what Lexus called a small high torque electric motor. Power can shift between the gas engine and the electric motor or they can operate in tandem. Combined they supply 194 horsepower to the NX 300h.
Transferring that power to the pavement is an electrically controlled continuously variable transmission or ECVT. We don’t know if there is any advantage to this type of transmission versus a regular CVT. But it seemed to convey a little more oomph to the pavement under normal conditions.
This combination had an EPA rating of 33 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined. We thought that was a little on the low side. But 30 mpg is the magic number for fuel efficiency and the Lexus NX Hybrid topped it across the board.
As most who are familiar with hybrid systems know, regenerative braking changed the electric motor into a generator that captured the kinetic energy of the wheels when the brakes were applied. Then it was stored in the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) hybrid battery pack.
In EV drive mode, under certain conditions, the NX 300h can run solely on the electric motor for up to 1 mile at lower speeds (below approximately 25 mph). We tried this by driving around the bock, well several blocks. The crossover hybrid stayed in electric mode but when we got to 25 mph, the gasoline engine kicked in just like Lexus said.
Lexus also said a Hybrid System Indicator and fuel consumption indicator, located in a 4.2-inch TFT screen, help coach the driver to operate the vehicle as economically as possible. Never saw it, never looked for it, ergo we never paid any attention.
But we did noticed that all the instruments were digital. The speedometer and the power gauge; all the numbers were digital but they were inside a three-dimensional ring. Thus, they looked analogue. It was a nice illusion.
The all-wheel-drive system (with intelligence) was standard. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels, the system employed a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction. Since thank goodness winter was not upon us at the time of the test drive, this feature was not needed. And our test vehicle did sport the optional 18-inch wheels.
We climbed into the 2019 Lexus NX 300h and found the interior busy but nicely done. The floating infotainment screen was set back atop the dash; almost like it was on a downward slope. There was a cascaded look. The vents were next, followed by the climate control gauges and temperature setting.
The center-stack dropped down abruptly and there were the audio controls, the gear shifter beneath and the drive mode selector which was a dial. We were intrigued by the CD player; most of them have gone to the automotive obsolete museum. We checked it out and found it provided excellent sounds.