Lexus NX: Just a RAV4 With a Spit Shine?

2015 Lexus NX 200t F-Sport

The problem:

Lexus didn’t have a vehicle to compete against the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

The opportunity:

Lexus has a solid and successful SUV in the RX series, which has dominated the luxury SUV market for more than 15 years. It could use that leverage to field a new, smaller vehicle and compete in a new category.

The solution:

Take the Toyota RAV4, put in a new engine, use a sexy new Lexus body, add some luxurious and hi-tech amenities, and BAM! We have the new Lexus NX, due in dealerships next month.

With pricing and specs now released, we ask: Is the NX a worthy competitor in this market, or will looking used be a better buy?

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Lexus Design: Better in the Past?

lexus_nx_front

Radical styling in a mass-market car doesn’t usually make sense, which is why it rarely happens.

Think of the Hondas and Toyotas of the world and you’ll conjure up visions of bland four-door sedans and efficiently shaped crossovers. They are fine looking automobiles, of course, but nothing that’ll cause whiplash in a passerby.

Hyundai and Kia started to change things with designs that demanded attention and helped justify increasing prices. Just compare a 2014 Optima with a 2008 Optima and you’ll see my point.

Over the years, Lexus fell into a design category perhaps best labeled as “stodgy,” with designs that imply subtle sophistication instead of head-turning aggression.

That began to change with the LFA supercar, and now some extreme design is trickling all the way down to the compact crossover segment.

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