2015 Lexus NX
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.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 235
- Torque: 258 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
- EPA: 21 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined