2021 Lexus NX

2021 Lexus NX Review: Refined Practicality

The luxury SUV market is wildly competitive, and the majority of car manufacturers are competing for a slice of this lucrative pie. Lexus is one of the more established brands in this corner of the market, and its Lexus NX has been around for some time. The 2021 model retains the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine found in previous year's models and produces 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Thy Hybrid NX is powered by a combination of an Atkinson cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and three electric motors, which totals 194 hp. The NX offers a truly luxurious experience at a competitive price but faces stiff competition in Japanese rivals such as the Acura RDX and German class leaders like the BMW X3. Our Lexus NX review aims to uncover whether the SUV can still compete with these accomplished rivals.

2021 Lexus NX Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Lexus NX?

The Lexus RX SUV in its current form has been with us for quite some time, and Lexus continues to improve on its offering in 2021 by adding a few new standard features such as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, auto-dimming power-folding exterior mirrors, an updated low profile wiper blade design, and a new steering wheel and tachometer design. Lexus also added a new color option for 2021 called Nori Green Pearl. Finally, an upgraded amplifier for the Mark Levinson sound system is now available.

Pros and Cons

  • Cool-looking exterior
  • Styling and spacious interior
  • Well-insulated cabin
  • Good reliability
  • Fussy infotainment system
  • Not particularly quick
  • Small cargo area

Best Deals on NX

2021 Lexus NX Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
NX 300
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,610
NX 300 F SPORT
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$39,710
NX 300 Luxury
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,060

2021 Lexus NX Exterior

It might not be the youngest on the block, but the exterior styling of the 2021 Lexus NX still looks crisp and attractive. The base model features bi-LED headlamps, LED taillamps and daytime running lights, power-folding auto-dimming heated outside mirrors with auto tilt-down, a set of roof rails, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The F Sport looks meaner thanks to a set of 18-inch split five-spoke alloys, an F Sport front fascia and rear valance, and a mesh front grille with smoked chrome trim and black mirror caps. The Luxury trim adds its own set of wheels and rain-sensing window wipers, and both it and the F Sport have a power moonroof. Hybrid models, meanwhile, feature a concealed exhaust, and the Hybrid Black Line Edition includes 18-inch split-10-spoke alloy wheels with a dark finish, black outside mirrors, and color-keyed overfenders.

2021 Lexus NX Front Angle View Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Rear Angle View Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Front Angle View 1 Lexus
See All 2021 Lexus NX Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The NX is classified as a compact luxury crossover SUV and posts dimensions similar to those of the Acura RDX and Toyota RAV4. The total length of all configurations is 182.7 inches, the width is 83.9 inches, and the height is 64.8 inches. The NX rolls on a 104.7-inch wheelbase, which is almost four inches less than its competitor; the Acura RDX that measures in at 108.3 inches. In its front-wheel-drive configuration, the NX crossover SUV tips the scales with a curb weight of 3,940 pounds. Going for the all-wheel-drive version will see that weight go up to 4,050 pounds. Hybrid models are the heaviest at 4,180 lbs.

  • Length 182.7 in
  • Wheelbase 104.7 in
  • Height 64.8 in
  • Max Width 73.6 in
  • Front Width 62.2 in
  • Rear Width 62.2 in
  • Curb Weight 3,940.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

The NX's shapely body looks great in almost every color, and Lexus offers a range of interesting hues that make the most of the NX's curves. The base model is available in your choice of seven exterior colors: Atomic Silver, Nebula Gray Pearl, Caviar, Matador Red Mica, and Nori Green Pearl. Cadmium Orange and Eminent White Pearl are extra-cost options. The NX 300 F Sport adds Obsidian as a standard option, with Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 as an extra-cost one. e Caviar, Eminent White, and Nori Green fall away, though. Blue Vortex metallic is no longer available in 2021. We'd go for the F Sport purely because Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 looks so cool.

  • Nebula Gray Pearl
  • Atomic Silver
  • Caviar
  • Matador Red Mica
  • Nori Green Pearl
  • Eminent White Pearl
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Obsidian
  • Ultra White
  • Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0

2021 Lexus NX Performance

The 2021 Lexus NX is only available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is channeled to the front or all fours via a six-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the competition, the NX is relatively underpowered, and rivals such as the BMW X3 xDrive30i will outsprint it in a 0 to 60 mph race. The non-hybrid NX should reach that speed in seven seconds in AWD guise and go on to a top speed of 124 mph, making it as fast as a 1985 Mercedes 560 SEL. It is capable of towing 2,000 lbs with the correct setup, making it more capable than the Acura RDX, which can only tow up to 1,500 lbs (the same as the Hybrid NX). FWD models will do the zero to sixty sprint in 7.2 seconds. Forget about chasing the top speed at every opportunity; it only takes a quick test drive to realize that the NX is built to cruise the highways and city streets in accordance with the law. Hybrid models are even more relaxed, and take a whole 9.1 seconds to reach 60 mph.

2021 Lexus NX Front View Driving Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Side View Driving Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Engine Lexus

Engine and Transmission

As with most competitors in this class, Lexus sticks with a small-capacity turbocharged engine. In this case, it's a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine developing 235 hp and 258 lb-ft. Power is sent to the front, or all four wheels, via a six-speed auto transmission, with the AWD version being the quickest off the line. As with so many of its kind, this engine and transmission combo provides excellent low to mid-range torque but can fall out of the power band due to the small turbocharger running out of steam higher up in the rev range. This is fine for city driving, and in higher gears, the NX pulls strongly on the highway, but don't expect a performance SUV, even in F Sport trim. The F Sport does offer two extra driving modes, though - Sport S and Sport S+ - which change throttle response, but power figures remain the same. Hybrid models are stuck with a naturally-aspirated Atkinson cycle 2,5-liter engine and three electric motors. This setup produces 194 hp combined and feels slower than the competition. Power is sent to all four wheels via a CVT transmission.

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

It's all about luxury here. The Lexus NX is a refined machine that is well insulated from the outside world, giving it a genuinely polished feel on the road. As with competitors such as the BMW X3 and Acura RDX, the suspension setup strikes a balance between sedan-like sportiness and comfort, with the latter taking preference. Over rough road surfaces, the NX does a fair job of soaking up bumps, but there's still an element of regular sedan stiffness in there. The NX carries itself with dignity around the bends, but body roll is unavoidable, and the car will eventually push into understeer despite a good initial turn-in response. The F Sport model gets a tuned sport suspension, but even in this configuration, the NX feels more like a luxury cruiser than a Urus ripoff. The AWD version can be taken off-road, thanks to a lockable center differential, but don't get too carried away. The low ground clearance will see you end up like a beached whale on even the mildest breakovers.

2021 Lexus NX Gas Mileage

Despite its relatively high curb weight, the efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the NX returns acceptable gas mileage but isn't as good as some rivals. According to the EPA, the FWD 2021 Lexus NX 300 will return a commendable 22/28/25 mpg, while the AWD car will manage 22/28/24 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycle. The F Sport sees a further dip to 22/27/24 mpg. The Acura RDX, by comparison, will manage best figures of 22/28/24 mpg, and the naturally-aspirated Toyota RAV4 will beat both with 28/25/30 mpg. With a 15.9-gallon fuel tank, the gas-only NX can cover a maximum distance of 398 miles on a single fillup. The NX Hybrid drastically improves on those numbers, returning 33/30/31 mpg. With a 14.8-gallon fuel tank on board, the Hybrid should see a maximum range of 459 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 22/28 mpg
* 2021 Lexus NX 300 FWD

2021 Lexus NX Interior

The interior spaces of vehicles in this class are as far-flung from traditional off-road SUVs as you can get. There are no extra grab handles and hard rubber flooring. Instead, you get sleek styling, plush carpets, and luxury materials. The interior of the NX is a stylish place to sit in, but we'd expect nothing less from Lexus. The material choices are impressive, and even the synthetic leather proffered on the base trim feels close to the real thing. We did spot a few hard plastic bits, but even those were of good quality. The dashboard layout is ergonomic in the sense that it is easy to reach the controls from both the driver and passenger side, but we feel that there's a clutter of buttons that can get difficult to navigate while driving. The features list is good, however, and Luxury models feel precisely as the name suggests.

2021 Lexus NX Dashboard Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Steering Wheel Controls Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Gear Shifter Lexus
See All 2021 Lexus NX Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

There's enough space for five occupants within the confines of the Lexus NX's cabin. The head and legroom in the front are ample, and six-footers should not find any problems getting comfortable. Front passengers get ten-way power-adjustable seats as standard and the driver has access to a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. The standard seats are great for everyday use, but the F Sport seats add a bit of extra bolstering for those who desire a bit more support. In the rear, things get a bit tighter. The rear legroom is decent, but the NX's sloping roofline can impede taller occupants from having a relaxing time. Visibility out the front is good, the driving position is elevated and confident, and the overall space is good.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.8 in
  • Front Head Room 38.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.1 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.1 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Lexus did a fine job when choosing the interior materials for the 2021 NX. The base model is offered with NuLuxe seating material in your choice of Creme, Glazed Caramel, Black, or Rioja Red. All of these choices are paired with Dark Umber trim. The F Sport comes with metallic Sport trim and NuLuxe upholstery in either Arctic White, Black, or Circuit Red. The Luxury gets perforated leather upholstery in Creme or Black with Linear Black Shadow wood trim. The F Sport also includes a perforated leather shift knob, steering wheel. black headliner, and aluminum pedals.

2021 Lexus NX Trunk and Cargo Space

There might be space for five adults, but there won't be space for all their stuff. The Lexus NX offers surprisingly little in the way of storage space when compared to similar rivals. There's only 17.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row, which is minuscule compared to the 29.5 cubic feet you get in the Acura RDX or the more than 37 cubes on offer in the Toyota RAV4. Still, this is enough space for a decent run to the grocery store. Thankfully, the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split for a total space of 54.6 cubic feet. Hybrid models suffer from a slight storage space penalty and only offer 16.8 cubes behind the rear seats, or 53.7 cubes the first row seats. Small items can be stored in the glove box, center console storage bin, and front seatback pockets. There are also four shallow door pockets, a shelf underneath the center dashboard, and four cup holders.

2021 Lexus NX Dashboard 1 Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Driver Seat Lexus
2021 Lexus NX Gear Shifter 1 Lexus

2021 Lexus NX Infotainment and Features

Features

Lexus is a luxury brand and, as such, doesn't skimp on standard features. The base model features tech and luxury equipment including SmartAccess with push-button start, an illuminated entry system, dual-zone climate control with a smog sensor and automatic recirculation mode, ten-way power-adjustable front seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and remote engine start. The F Sport adds a perforated leather shift knob and heated steering wheel, F Sport front seats with enhanced bolsters, a black headliner, aluminum pedals, and active sound control. Luxury variants add a perforated leather interior, a Lexus memory system for the driver, heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof. All models get driver assistance tech such as pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, a rearview camera, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high beams, lane departure warning with steering assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist.

Infotainment

The base and F Sport feature an eight-inch touchscreen display controlled via touchpad, voice command, or steering wheel controls. Infotainment features include Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, Wi-Fi connectivity, Amazon Alexa compatibility, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an eight-speaker premium sound system. Luxury models feature a larger 10.3-inch display with built-in navigation and dynamic voice command. Images are clearly projected, and the menus easy enough to understand, but we found the touchpad controller a bit iffy. New buyers can also go for a ten-speaker Lexus premium sound system or a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

2021 Lexus NX SUV Problems and Reliability

The Lexus NX is a shining example of Japanese engineering and reliability. This luxury SUV has not been recalled once in the past two years, and J.D. Power gives the NX a solid score of 80 out of 100 for reliability and quality. Lexus will cover the NX with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, a six-year corrosion plan, a six-year/70,000-mile drivetrain warranty, and a one-year maintenance plan. For the NX 300h, hybrid components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    6 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    1 Years \ 10,000 Miles

2021 NX Safety

If you're looking for a safe family car, look no further than the Lexus NX SUV. Lexus takes safety very seriously, and both the NHTSA and IIHS have given glowing reviews of this luxury SUV. The NHTSA gave the 2021 model a full five-star overall rating, and the IIHS awarded the 2021 NX with a Top Safety Pick + rating.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

All NX models sold in the USA come with standard safety features such as eight airbags, stability control, a backup camera, LED headlights, and traction control. The Lexus Safety System 2.0 adds driver assistance systems such as dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane tracing assist, intelligent high beams, and road sign assist. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist is included as well, and a surround-view monitor and intuitive parking assistance are available optionally.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Lexus NX a good car?

Lexus has been a big player in the luxury SUV game for a long time and knows how to throw a good product together. Despite showing its age in some respects, the NX remains a competitive offering in a part of the market that is only getting more competitive with the passing years. The NX is a stylish vehicle that looks good from the outside and offers a generous amount of luxury features, even in base form. Under the hood, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot does a fine job of moving the NX around, and while rivals such as the BMW X3 are quicker, there's still enough power to get the job done. On the road, the NX is a capable cruiser, and most will find it extremely comfortable to pilot around daily. The interior is elegant and functional, and quality materials are used throughout; we only wished that the infotainment touchpad controller was a bit more intuitive. Interior space is good, but headroom can get tight in the rear, and unfortunately, the cargo space on offer is extremely disappointing. The NX's final unique selling point is the fact that it is one of the safest cars in its class, thanks to an IIHS Top Safety Pick + award. It's definitely a purchase you're unlikely to regret.

🚘What's the Price of the Lexus NX?

Pricing for the 2021 Lexus NX is competitive when you look at other offerings from brands such as Acura and BMW. The base price for a new NX starts at $37,610 MSRP and increases to $39,70 for the F Sport. The top-tier Luxury is a bit pricier at $44,060. Swapping out the FWD for the AWD setup on any of these trims adds $1,400 to the bill. The Hybrid range starts at $40,160 and goes up to $46,610 for the Luxury AWD model. The NX 300h F Sport AWD Black Line Special Edition will cost you $46,910. The Lexus NX price will exceed $50,000 when it is fully loaded with options. These prices all exclude a destination charge in the US of $1,025.

New Lexus NX SUV Models

Lexus offers the gas-only NX in three different trim levels, starting with the base model, followed by the F Sport and Luxury. All three trim levels are powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front or all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid range adds another three trim levels, namely the NX 300h AWD, NX 300h Luxury AWD, and finally the NX 300h F Sport AWD Black Line Special Edition for a total of six. The Hybrid range shares its standard features with the gas-only range, but swaps out the 2.0-liter engine for an Atkinson Cycle 2.5-liter engine and three electric motors producing a total of 194 hp.

The base model comes standard with LED headlights, ten-way power-adjustable front seats, SmartAccess with push-button start, an illuminated entry system, dual-zone climate control with a smog sensor, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and remote engine start. The eight-inch infotainment display includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi connectivity, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and an eight-speaker sound system.

The F Sport adds a performance damper and stabilizer bar in the front and rear, aluminum pedals, active sound control, a perforated leather shift knob, a heated steering wheel, F Sport front seats with enhanced bolsters, a black headliner, and added driving modes.

Lexus made its Hybrid Black Line Special Edition stand out by adding 18-inch split-10-spoke alloy wheels with a dark finish, black outside mirrors, and color-keyed overfenders.

The top-of-the-line Luxury trim adds heated and ventilated front seats, a perforated leather interior, a Lexus memory system for the driver, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof. The Luxury also gets a 10.3-inch infotainment display with navigation and dynamic voice commands.

See All 2021 Lexus NX Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The list of standard features in the NX is already quite impressive, but new buyers can always choose to extend that list by adding extra options. Here, we cover just a few of them. The base model can be equipped with options such as the $2,630 Premium Package, which adds enhanced LED daytime running lights with integrated turn indicators, a power moonroof, a Lexus memory system, 18-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels, and heated and ventilated front seats. This package does, however, require adding an auto-dimming rearview mirror, which will cost $150.

The $1,985 Navigation Package includes a navigation system with a 10.3-inch split-screen multimedia display, Lexus Enform dynamic navigation, a ten-speaker premium sound system, Lexus Enform destination assist, dynamic voice command, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink. Adding this package can only be done by simultaneously speccing the Premium Package.

Even the range-topping Luxury can be improved with options such as the Navigation/Mark Levinson Package, which, for $1,060, adds a Mark Levinson premium surround-sound audio system, Lexus Enform destination assist, and more. This package is available to the lower trims, too, but at a significantly higher price.

🚗What 2021 Lexus NX Model Should I Buy?

The beauty of buying a 2021 Lexus NX is the fact that no matter what trim level you go for, you're basically guaranteed a luxurious and refined time. The base model is a bargain, and with a few added packages, can be turned into an absolute luxury steal. The F Sport might be on the superficial side, but it is available in that striking blue paint that we love so much. For the true ballers out there, only the Luxury will do. There's something for everyone here, but we would recommend going for the base model and adding a few select options to bring it up to your requirements. Depending on how much emphasis you put on aspects like value, appearance, and luxury, there is an NX to suit you.

Check out other Lexus NX Styles

2021 Lexus NX Comparisons

Lexus RX CarBuzz
Acura RDX CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Lexus NX235 hp22/28 mpg$37,610
Lexus RX 295 hp20/27 mpg$45,220
Acura RDX 272 hp22/28 mpg$38,400

2021 Lexus NX vs Lexus RX

The RX slots in above the NX in Lexus' range of luxury SUVs and competes in the midsize crossover segment. This bigger and more expensive SUV gets powered by a bigger, more powerful engine in the form of a naturally-aspirated V6 that produces 295 hp and 268 lb-ft, which it sends to either the front or all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. These cars share a similar exterior design, but the difference in size is notable from the outside. On the road, the RX is naturally less nimble but still offers an excellent ride and silky smooth V6 performance. Inside, the same quality presides over the cabin, and feature levels are impressive. There's more passenger space as well, but its cargo space behind the second row is surprisingly even worse than the NX. These two cars feel similar in spirit, but the NX is the nimbler car and cheaper as well. If you need the extra passenger space, go for the RX, otherwise, we'd stick with the smaller but more charismatic NX.

See Lexus RX Review

2021 Lexus NX vs Acura RDX

The Acura RDX is one of the NX's closest rivals in terms of pricing and performance. This Japanese luxury SUV follows the same principles as the NX: edgy styling, a comfortable driving style, and small-capacity turbo power. Under the hood of the RDX, you'll find a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with healthy specs of 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front or all four wheels via a ten-speed automatic transmission. The RDX feels quicker in every gear and will outsprint the NX to 60 mph. It's also more fun to drive but is just as comfortable. The interior of the RDX offers more front legroom, superior rear legroom and dominates in terms of trunk and cargo space. The interior design is more contemporary but we prefer the classy look of the Lexus, although the RDX does come with a lot of standard features. The RDX will appeal to the young at heart, while the Lexus will draw those looking for a more restrained and classy experience.

See Acura RDX Review

Lexus NX Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Lexus NX:

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$37,610 - $45,460
Price Range (MSRP)
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