2015 Lexus NX

2015 Lexus NX

Episode 3402
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Another episode of MotorWeek, another new compact crossover to check out. Or so it seems of late. But wait, this one is also luxurious! Sorry for the cynicism, but with all the downsized, fancied up crossovers we’ve driven lately it’s a bit like our road test playlist is stuck on repeat. But, we haven’t heard from one of the kingpins of affordable luxury yet: Lexus. That in until now with their all-new NX. 

The 2015 Lexus NX is just the latest in a shifting crossover landscape to smaller luxury-minded utes. It’s hard to say whether it’s the search for additional fuel economy or the realization that maybe we don’t need so much space after all that’s powering the shift; but Americans are buying into smaller utilities of all types in larger numbers.  

And while the benefits are obvious, so are the compromises, as there’s less area to spread out, as well as less space for cargo. 

Most interior measurements of the NX are very similar to the Toyota Rav4 on which the NX shares basic underpinnings. Except for cargo space which due mostly to a faster roof is much less, at 17.7 cubic-ft. behind the rear seats and 54.6 with them folded.  

While unmistakably Lexus, the NX design is another clear step in the brands attempt to trade a soft image for a more dynamic one. Indeed, when you step inside things are much more “sporty” than over the top luxurious. Even the seats are sport-minded, yet still very comfortable. And the tight space with wide center console also implies sportswear more than business casual. 

Rear seats however, feel more generous; and more in-line with what you expect in a luxury-minded crossover. And you can take it further still if you go the F SPORT route, which instead of the usual cow and tree materials, things go black and metallic.

Front seats are even more aggressive, and the LFA-inspired gauges, with boost gauge and G-meter, set the tone when you trigger the start button. There are aluminum pedals for your feet, a unique steering wheel with paddle shifters for your hands, and for your ears, Active Sound Control that lets you dial in as much engine sounds as you want. 

Those sounds come from the first turbo engine ever in a Lexus. It’s a 2.0-liter unit with an integrated intercooler and exhaust manifold, and a twin-scroll turbocharger. Output is 235-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque.

It’s a sweet engine. Both smooth running and quiet when you want it to be; powerful and aggressive when you don’t. And it works very well with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission.Lexus claims a 0-60 time of 7.0-seconds. 

In addition, there’s also a hybrid NX 300h. It uses a re-tuned version of the Camry’s 2.5-liter I4 gas-electric system with total output of 194-horsepower. And like the Highlander, all-wheel-drive is available with the addition of a motor generator mounted in the stern that drives the rear wheels. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are yet to be finalized, but Lexus claims 21-City, 28-Highway, and 24-Combined for an all-wheel-drive 200t; and 35-City, 31-Highway, and 33-Combined for a front-wheel-drive 300h. 

For our early drive time around Whistler, British Columbia we naturally chose the athletic F Sport and were not disappointed. Handling is great, nothing at all like the rolling couch-like manner of the RX. Handling is aided by the front axle’s “pre-load” differential.  

But as much as we were enjoying the nimbleness, the rougher ride that accompanies it is a bit much for most buyers in this segment. The ultra-antagonistic look might also be a turn off, but the more time our eyes spent with it, the more they liked what they were taking in. Sharp angles are without a doubt the theme; and L.E.D.s are used for lighting both front and rear. Here again, F Sport brings even more to the table with a mesh grille, black side mirrors, and exclusive 18-inch wheels. 

Pricing hasn’t been finalized as of yet, but we think a mid-$30,000 start would be just about right, based on other recent compact luxury entries. 

One thing is certain. Lexus knows how to do plush, luxury crossovers well; evidenced by over 1-million RX sales. And while there is certainly a demand for a smaller version of the RX; the 2015 NX is not that at all. 

In its continuing effort to replace some of the brand’s traditional opulence with excitement, Lexus has created a very dynamic looking and performing compact luxury crossover. And it looks like from here on out, instead of wondering whether they’ve gone far enough, people will be debating whether this time Lexus has gone too far.

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 235
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • EPA: 21 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway
2024 Mercedes AMG GLA35

2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

Baby AMG SUV Brings The Performance

Episode 4336
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Back in 2015, buying an AMG-tuned utility vehicle was not unheard of, but finding one as affordable as the then-new AMG GLA 45 was an entirely new phenomenon. Since then, they’ve only enhanced their AMG profile, so let’s check in with the latest Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and see if we can keep up.

A quick look at the Mercedes-Benz lineup reveals they currently have more than a dozen SUVs for sale, most of which can get some level of high-performance AMG treatment. This 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is the least expensive one you can buy, but it certainly doesn’t feel, look, or behave like a budget ride.

Styling updates are mostly limited to a new front fascia, though both head and taillights get freshened up, and there are some new wheel designs, plus a unique AMG crest on the hood for the first time. The base Mercedes-Benz GLA also gets updated, just with a much milder theme for those that are looking more for the luxurious experience instead of the AMG’s sporty theme.

Inside, drivers can take in all the carbon fiber accents, as well as put their hands on a new AMG Performance steering wheel. Mercedes has gotten rid of the touchpad controller on the center console and put a much more practical phone charger in its place, as well as added an additional USB-C port with faster charging speed. The touchscreen shares its housing with the 10-inch digital instrument cluster.

The GLA 35’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 has been retuned by AMG for 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. It’s the same setup found in the CLA 35 four-door Coupe we recently tested. The base GLA 250 makes do with 221 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbo-4. The GLA 35 comes strictly with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AMG-tuned 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

At our test track, with AMG Race Start engaged, we hooked and booked to 60 in just 4.9-seconds despite a slight hesitation in full power delivery off the line. It launched hard even without Race Start, and the engine strongly pulled all the way down the track. Shifts were plenty quick, yet still very smooth, as while we could barely feel when they were happening, the bassy bark from the exhaust gave us a much-appreciated audible cue. Our best quarter-mile run was a 13.5 at 102 miles-per-hour.

As for handling, it was easy-peasy for this AMG. We were able to carry quite a bit of speed through our cone course with very minimal body roll and a planted feel that had us pushing harder and harder until we got it to step out on us just a little.

You can get into a base front-wheel-drive GLA for as little as $43,000, but this AMG 35 will cost you at least $57,600.

When we hear things like “the best or nothing at all,” we tend to dismiss it as Mercedes marketing speak, but that was actually a quote going all the way back to Gottlieb Daimler in the late 1800s prior to his firm joining up with Karl Benz’s. And, for the most part, it’s still the philosophy behind Mercedes-Benz today. And you can certainly feel it behind the wheel of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4
  • Horsepower: 302
  • 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 112 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 27.6 MPG (Premium)
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.5 seconds at 102 mph
  • EPA: 22 City | 28 Highway | 24 Combined