As badge engineering goes, Toyota's luxury division has more hits than misses. The ES midsize sedan feels considerably nicer than a Toyota Camry; the GX bears little resemblance inside or out to its Toyota 4Runner sibling. And so it goes for the NX, a car Toyota Corporate Marketing Manager Brian Bolain says is "very loosely related to the RAV4," Toyota's popular small SUV. Bolain insists it has 90 percent different parts and a structure that's 20 percent more rigid.
Indeed, the two seem like distant cousins at most. The NX hits U.S. showrooms in December, one of 80 global markets in which Lexus plans to sell the SUV. Pricing is still to come. But at a media preview in Seattle, I drove preproduction versions of the gasoline-powered NX 200t and gas-electric NX 300h hybrid, and my early take is the NX holds promise.
As compact luxury SUVs go, the 2015 Lexus NX combines sufficient driving fun and occupant comfort to deserve a look, though anyone with serious cargo needs should look elsewhere in this crowded field, or stick to the brand's popular RX.