This week we get two luxury vehicles that are in the medium price bracket and offer reasonable fuel economy. First up is the Lexus NX 300h. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter engine. With all the combined hybrid batteries and motors, the power output is 191.
Fuel economy is claimed to be 33/31 mpg. This compares to the non-hybrid version of the NX with a 2.0-liter 235-hp engine rated at 22/27 mpg. In real world driving we observed 28 in the city and 27 on freeway trips.
The 300h is a pleasant daily commuter, with plenty of passing power and comfortable ride. We had the F Sport package that includes choices for Eco, Normal and Sport mode. Nobody likes the infotainment control, which is an annoying finger touch type and very clumsy to operate when moving. The quality of the cabin is first rate, with nice materials and workmanship.
The base cost is $39K. Getting optional LED headlights will set you back $1,515! Then we have a panorama camera, navigation and a list of minor electronic goodies that brought the tab to a staggering $49,702. The cost of fuel economy just went up!
For those who don’t care about fuel bills and want a nice sedan, the Lexus IS might do. The 300 series has a small 2.0-liter engine with 241 horsepower and start tab of $38K. We had the upgraded 350 model with a more potent 3.5-liter V6, rated at 311 hp. An outdated six-speed gearbox is attached but is reliable enough. In spite of its small size, this car is not a lightweight at 2 tons. Fuel economy is claimed to be 20/28 mpg. Our best was 31 mpg on freeway trips.
Instead of that horrible finger touch pad that we see on other Lexus infotainment systems, this car has the older stick control that is easier to operate. The climate knobs are easy to use, but the temperature setting is that dreaded finger touch that is nearly impossible to use when wearing gloves. A lot of glare reflects off the gauge cluster on sunny days. Otherwise the cabin is a nice place to be, with quality materials and build.
The starting tab of an IS 300 is about $38K, or $42K for this IS 350. An F Sport pack provides Eco, Normal, Custom, Sport and Sport+ mode of operation. This plus the LED headlights, navigation and a few items brought the total fee to $50,345.
Both the Lexus IS 350 and Lexus NX 300h are assembled in their Tahara, Japan, factory. This helps explain the excellent build quality, which adds value to these price tags.
Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.