The perfect car for the Williamsburg yupster.
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Story by Will Sabel Courtney
If you needed any further proof that the days of the big-box SUV are behind us, feast your eyes on the Lexus NX 200t. When the time came to toss their hat into the booming small-yet-stylish-sport-utility-vehicle category, Lexus management apparently served their designers a big plate of ‘shrooms and told them to go buck wild.
And amazingly enough, the result came out looking pretty good. Lexus’s hourglass front grille seems just right on the NX’s face, and the creased edges Lexus’s designers favor these days look far more at home on the compact, upright NX then they do on the brand’s sedans or bulkier sport-utes. The whole look makes the NX 200t look like some sort of bionic boar. (In the best way.)
The NX 200t also marks Lexus’s first (American) use of a turbocharged motor. It was probably inevitable, given how turbo fours are in vogue these days; thankfully, the effort produced a solid performer, serving up plenty of power with minimal lag. It did deliver a surprising amount of torque steer, though—rather odd, considering the NX I drove had all-wheel-drive.
Speaking of driveline oddities—it’s time for Lexus to ditch the NX 200t’s six-speed automatic. Sure, it works fine, but seven or eight speeds have become the standard in the luxury-car classes. Six forward cogs seems dangerously outdated, especially in a brand-new car. It’s not like you don’t have an eight-speed lying around, Lexus—it’s sitting between the engine and the wheels in the RC F and the LS. Chrysler sells a $17,000 car with a nine-speed automatic. Your $35,000 one should at least try to keep up.
The shift mode controller that toggles between “Eco,” “Normal” and “Sport” mode comes in handier than most similar gizmos: Sport does a solid job of keeping the engine closer to the turbo’s boost when driving, uh, vigorously; Eco smooths out the stop-and-go traffic herky-jerky; and Normal mode works quite nicely for, y’know, normal driving. If there’s a bug in the actual driving experience, it’s the passive-aggressive e-brake, which automatically activates when the car shifts into park. Ohhhh, it looks like you forgot to turn on the parking brake…I’ll just take care of that for you.
No, NX. I just don’t want it on.
The driving experience, all told, is as unremarkable as the exterior is futuristic—which is probably just what the average NX buyer’s looking for. What he/she does want, though, is comfort and technology—and like every Lexus, the NX is jammed full of both. The interior packs the usual new-era Lexus combination of modern, slightly busy design and a complex center console stretching from the dashboard to the armrest. (The shifter is also mounted unusually high, which may give fond memories to former seventh-gen Honda Civic Si and Porsche Carrera GT owners.)
(Not that there are probably many people moving from a Carrera GT to a Lexus NX.)
The NX also comes with the latest version of the infotainment control, which involves a laptop trackpad and a crosshair cursor. It remains frustrating; luckily, there are big buttons and physical switches for most of the major functions, such as the radio and the climate control. Still, when the nicest thing you can say about an infotainment system is “you don’t have to use it too often,” it may be time to switch things up.
Odds are good NX owners will make extensive use of the trucklet’s surprisingly roomy interior, though. The acutely angled rear hatch cuts into the rear cargo bay a little harshly, but the remaining space is still more than enough to hold two couples’ bags for a week’s vacation. And both front and rear rows are roomy enough for a pair of yupsters. (Yuppie hipsters.)
And that’s just who the NX is for: yupsters. It’s perfect for stylish urbanites who want all-weather ability, empowering ride height, and a luxury nameplate, but also need something small enough to maneuver into tight parking spaces and won’t guzzle gas the way Donald Trump goes through hairspray. I’m already seeing them popping up around Brooklyn with surprising frequency. The Lexus NX, really, is a car for the Williamsburg of 2015—it’s edgy, tech-centric, pricey, and perfect for the kinds of folks who like to stay on top of the latest trends without straying too far from the mainstream.
Considering how quickly Williamsburg is growing…I can’t say Lexus has the wrong idea.
Price as Tested: 44,148
0-60: 7.2 secs. (FWD model)
Power: 235 hp, 258 lb.-ft.
Gas Cash: 22 city, 28 hwy
Miles Driven: 40