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Base price: $38,355

Price as tested: $47,534

This week, we’re behind the wheel of the 2018 Lexus NX 300h SUV, with all-wheel drive (AWD) a standard feature. The “h” nomenclature refers to a hybrid electric power system, while the NX designates it is a member of the impressive family of Lexus Crossovers and SUVs that all use the letter “X” for distinction.

This impressive family of Lexus “X” vehicles starts with the non-hybrid NX 300 turbo at $35,985, mid-size RX at $43,2700, full-size GX at $52,155 up to the mega-size LX beginning at $85,380. Our tester NX 300h AWD hybrid, listed as a small SUV, starts at $38,355. Upcoming is an all-new compact Lexus UX that will start in the $30,000 area and is set for production this year.  

Our tester NX 300h hybrid offers a fuel mileage benefit that’s hard to beat in this class. Motivation starts with an Atkinson hybrid power source utilizing electric motivation to work in tandem with the internal combustion engine while cruising. The end result is excellent fuel economy thanks to less engine demand. 

New for 2018 are a tweaked exterior and a Navigation media system with a larger 10.25-inch display. Other than these features, it’s pretty much the same as the 2017 Lexus 300h that is still in its first generation.  

Digging further into the aforementioned internal combustion finds all Lexus 300h models relying on the proven 2.5-liter, 12.5 to one compression, 150-horsepower inline four that mate to a nickel-metal magnetic battery pack and two electric drive 44-horse motors. This combo delivers a total system output of 194 horsepower with the end-result a 31 MPG combined fuel mileage at 33 city and 31 highway. Expect acceleration of zero to 60 mph in about 9 seconds.

A continuously variable electronically controlled automatic transmission (CVT) hooks to the power plant, making its MPG numbers possible. The CVT is the only transmission available for the hybrid model, but if you choose the turbo 2.0-liter, 235-horse non-hybrid NX300, you’ll receive a six-speed automatic instead of the CVT. The standard full-time all-wheel drive system on the NX 300h receives assistance from a rear electric-drive motor helps deliver excellent traction and enhanced driving abilities in poor weather scenarios.

Known for abundant safety features, including eight airbags and added structural protection features, Lexus NX300 will surely earn Five-Star government safety ratings with superior impact performance in front, side and rollover test evaluations. Well noted is that every Lexus 300NX, be it hybrid or turbo model, comes with the Lexus Safety System Plus and Enform Safety Connect, which your Lexus dealer will explain in detail. 

As for consumer magazines and internet auto websites, they all find the Lexus 300 series high in satisfaction and reliability ratings. Additionally, all Lexus brands, from the entry models to the ultra LX, rate at or near the top in every satisfaction survey I’ve checked.  

On the road, you’ll enjoy sure footed and nimble driving, with one of the quietest interiors experienced to date. A standard eight-speaker Lexus Display Audio System features 440 watts, HD radio, MP3/USB/iPod/iTunes, Bluetooth, SiriusXM and real time traffic/weather. The Lexus cabin is first class all the way in that it both looks and feels great thanks to the Lexus touch of affluence. Expect a comfortable ride on those long, freeway drives.

Likes: Efficient hybrid system, fuel mileage, Lexus opulence and reliability.

Dislikes: Expensive option packages, somewhat noisy under full acceleration, not much else. 

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now.


Auto Bits

Personalize your ride with a new set of wheels

The idea of a new car or truck is exciting. What’s even more exciting is making that new vehicle your own.

According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association in its 2017 Market Research Report, wheels are among the most purchased items by consumers in the $42 billion aftermarket industry. Because there are many wheel options, SEMA recommends researching the various wheel types available for your specific vehicle and learning about the different wheel finish options, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages.

— Brandpoint


Tips to make sure your car is ready for that road trip

The Car Care Council suggests a few steps to make sure your vehicle is safe and road-trip ready:

- Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly, and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving at night and during spring showers.

- Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Underinflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy and uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. 

- Check filters and fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant. 

— More Content Now