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TheStreet Open House

Lexus Launches SUV That Runs Exclusively on Gasoline!

Stock quotes in this article: TM

Today, the NX goes up against cars such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. This is a hyper-competitive and growing segment. Consumers are trading "up" (literally) from traditional sedans because Americans have grown taller, live longer and want cars where they can enter and exit with ease. They are probably also tired of scraping the front of the car against the curb.

For the driver, comfort and ergonomics are approximately on par with the best competitors. The seats are good, the seating position is good and, overall, the instrumentation is good. I found a lot of glare reflecting from the climate controls but they are otherwise some of the best in the industry to operate.

The best interior feature of the Lexus NX might be the center console, where you don't need orangutan-long arms to operate switches and you can rest your right elbow and underarm in the best way possible. On the other hand, the navigation (and related information) screen looks old and juvenile, sort of like a computer world from 10-20 years ago. However, it is functional.

In the back seat, knee and foot space are good. The back-rest adjusts but headroom is at least one full inch too little. Some competitors offer more. The luggage space is well-shaped but not class-leading in overall size.

In general, the overall interior execution is at or extremely near the top of the class, as it should be given that this is the newest car on the market. Colors, leather and materials are right up there with the best Germans.

Lexus' trademark technology is its hybrid system. All in all, depending on whether you get four-wheel drive or standard front-wheel drive, it provides for class-leading overall fuel economy: 33-35 mpg in the city; 30-31 mpg on the highway. Overall, on paper, no other car in its class can match this.

There is one caveat to this, however: If your driving consists almost exclusively of highway miles, you could do better in one of the diesels offered by the German automakers. Diesels often outperform the EPA ratings, notably in highway driving.

The upshot for the Lexus NX 300h is that a hybrid vehicle does make for a quieter and smoother city driving experience in the city, if you take it very easy on the accelerator pedal. But the story doesn't end there, either!

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