The mid-size SUV market in Australia is the equivalent of a warzone. Every manufacturer has an iron in the fire, as it were, but we reckon the 2023 Lexus NX 250, tested here with the optional enhancement pack, puts up one hell of a fight.
Cliches aside, the 2023 NX 250 is a good looking car, with some nice styling updates, including “Lexus” lettering below the rear LED lighting that spans most of the tailgate, and the integration of the signature tick-shaped daytime running lights into the headlights.
From the front and the back, it’s very aggressive, especially dressed in Graphite Black paint. If that’s not for you though, there’s seven other colours, including Celestial Blue and Sonic Quartz.
Once you’ve come to terms with the reality that the door handles pretend to be the conventional pull-out variety, but actually have buttons on the inner side to engage the latch, you can step inside.
Available in a single trim level, our test vehicle came fitted with a Dark Rose and Black Prism leather interior; a truly glorious combination. There are three other choices, but this is by far our favourite.
In an interesting touch, interior door handles have also been swapped out for an “E-Latch” – essentially a button found on the arm rest, which can be pulled twice to open in case of an emergency.
There’s plenty of space inside the cabin too, and headroom and legroom is plentiful. You’ll find plenty of storage space, and a neat little centre console which opens both to the left and to the right. Two cup holders and a little storage cubby feature.
The digital instrument cluster is clear, but it’s the 9.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s the heart of the car. Here you’ll find DAB+ digital radio, and wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Other standard features include three-zone climate control, and three drive modes; Eco, Normal and Sport. There’s auto high beam too, although we found the latter a bit temperamental. Steering adjustment is electronic as well.
Total boot space is 520-litres, which can be expanded to 1,411-litres with the second row down. We sat a toddler comfortably in the second row with a forward facing child-seat, but fitted a rear-facing infant one for testing.
It only slightly compromised the front passenger seating. For those with kids, there are three top tether mounts and two ISOFIX points. Additionally, the enhancement pack adds a tilt-and-slide sunroof, a kick sensor for the electric tailgate, and wireless phone charging.
Under the hood, the NX 250 is powered by Toyota’s A25A-FKS motor, shared to its luxury brand. This 2.5-litre naturally aspirated inline 4-cylinder petrol engine delivers 152kW of power and 243Nm of torque through an 8-speed direct shift automatic, to the front wheels.
You’ll find it churns through the first seven gears quite quickly between zero and 100km/h. The eighth gear only engages when it starts sensing highway cruising speeds, unless of course you paddle shift it manually to get it there.
The powertrain combination is actually quite a love story and we approve of it.
It’s no slug off the line either, and gear changes are so smooth and responsive that unless you have the gear monitor open on your instrument cluster, and are not paying attention to the road, you’ll find you won’t have a clue what gear you’re actually in.
The downside however, is that the engine is quite noisy. It’s raucous enough that simply overtaking on a multi-lane road and standing on the throttle makes the engine roar to life. You’ll feel like your a teenager thrashing your parent’s car.
Take the NX 250 down some long winding roads though, away from the humdrum of the rat race, and the loud throttling of the engine can actually make for a fair bit of fun. The steering is reactive but remains light and firms up comfortably in Sport mode.
Suspension is reasonably firm too, but doesn’t demonstrate excessive body rolling around corners at speed. Fuel economy is poor though, and we saw an average of 9.4-litres/100km during testing (compared to Lexus’ claimed 6.9-litres).
To be fair, some of our drives were short and in hilly suburban streets, with plenty of starting and stopping. It probably didn’t help that we truly appreciated the roaring of the engine whenever possible.
The 2023 Lexus NX 250 carries a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and comes with blind spot monitoring, rain sensing wipers, lane departure and tracing assist, and road sign among others. As you might expect, the alerts for lane controls can be quite overbearing.
Priced at $72,861 drive away (including our enhancement pack and the colour choice), it’s a competitive option in the medium SUV space. It come with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assist. Servicing is capped for 3-years or 45,000km.
Though it may be the cheapest NX in the range, it most definitely looks and feels like a Lexus. Up against the likes of the Genesis GV70 and Toyota RAV4, it should certainly be on your wish list.
Our 2023 Lexus NX 250 was supplied by Lexus Australia. To find out more, contact your local Lexus dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design / Photography.