At first glance, the Lexus NX cuts a striking silhouette giving it showroom appeal in spades. But what of its interior?  Continuing just-auto/AIC’s review of interior design and technology trends, we slid inside this mid-size SUV to take a closer look.

Inside story

The latest refinements made to the NX’s interior since launch in 2017 include a reappraisal of some of the equipment features, including larger multimedia displays and a revised air conditioning control panel. There is also a range of interior upholstery colour and trim options to choose from, including Lexus’ Tahara, an alternative to animal leather.

The cockpit is designed to help keep the driver alert and comfortable, supported by HMI technology that minimises distraction by making switches and controls easy to use. The centre console has a prominent silver frame that is embedded in the dash and flanked by contrasting leather kneepads.  Here, the climate control panel has been rationalised with several buttons being replaced by a series of toggle switches finished with a tactile pattern of small, metallic Lexus “L” motifs.

Further attention to detail is evident in a portable vanity mirror that has been incorporated into the back of the central armrest’s storage bin lid.  A welcoming door handle light sequence when the driver approaches the car at night is another useful feature.

A touch-pad located on the centre console to partly control the 12.3-inch multimedia display screen looks neat but is a little fiddly and not as intuitive as the rotary one fitted on BMW’s (iDrive) and Audi’s (MMI).

Driving-related switches and controls are arranged in a control zone that is concentrated immediately around the steering wheel. These include the paddle shifts, steering wheel combination switches, drive mode select switch, starter button and shift lever, each located for the best ergonomic performance, focusing on easy reach and operation.

Driver and passenger comfort and convenience features include dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel and front seats, rear cabin air vents, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a tray to wirelessly recharge a smartphone. The latter has been made larger so that new-generation handsets can be accommodated.

To improve connectivity, the USB ports now have a high amperage so that devices can be charged more quickly. Smartphones can be wirelessly integrated with the car’s multimedia system via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and connected services can be accessed using Lexus Link – which also offers the option of in-car WiFi.

A 360-degree bird’s eye view of the car’s position helps the driver gain an all-round view of the vehicle when making low-speed manoeuvres or when driving off-road at slow pace. The monitor also works in conjunction with the NX’s parking assist system and rear cross-traffic alert.

Higher trim levels (F Sport Takumi Pack and top-drawer Takumi) are fitted with a head-up display (HUD). Lexus calls this concept ‘Seat in Control,’ a notion that from the moment you get in, all the controls needed are within reach and all the information is in plain view. The HUD projects relevant vehicle information onto the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. In addition to basic functionality, such as speed, fuel level and shift position, the display can also present speed limit signs, lane tracing assist warnings and navigation directions.

Two audio systems are available: a 10-speaker Pioneer Premium sound system and a 14-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound system, depending on the trim selected.  The sound system uses Clari-Fi technology, developed by Harman, which supplements in real-time frequencies that are lost in compressed audio files, such as MP3 and streaming audio files. This restores the sound quality and stereo mix as closely as possible to the original recording.

In terms of occupant space, front and rear seat passengers have nothing to grumble about thanks to the high roofline. Rear seat knee-room is more generous than in some larger SUV models.

Further back, the powered liftgate reveals 475 litres of luggage space with all the seats up and 1,520 litres with the rear seats folded. A close-and-lock button next to the tailgate grab handle automatically closes the tailgate and locks the vehicle.

Advanced driver assistance systems

In the ADAS department, the NX incorporates the automaker’s Safety System+ that comprises a pre-collision system designed to detect vehicles and pedestrians; dynamic radar cruise control; lane-keep assist with lane departure alert and a ‘sway warning function’; an automatic high beam system; and road sign assist.  The sway warning function monitors the car’s position in its lane and the driver’s steering inputs. If it detects degrees of vehicle swaying, it will sound an alert and display a warning on the instrument cluster, recommending the driver takes a break. The combination of adaptive cruise control and lane tracing assist corresponds to Level 2 automated driver support.

For the 2021 model year, intelligent parking sensors were added to the NX entry-level model specification as standard across the range. A blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are now standard on the F Sport.

On balance

Throughout the cabin, the quality and finish of the upholstery, expensive-feeling trim materials and detailing continue to reflect the attention to detail that Lexus’ engineers have given the NX. Its bold, smart interior has a lot going for it. Given that the Lexus brand has always been exceptional on fit and finish and material quality, the NX doesn’t disappoint. While our drive insulated us from the outside world, cocooned in comfort, it also felt cossetted and poised at every turn, providing a fabulous experience. It’s a great place to spend time. NX pricing starts at £35,860. Our test F Sport with Premium Pack and panoramic roof came in at £44,525. Rivals include the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Jaguar F-Pace.