The 2021 Lexus NX F Sport Black Line Special Edition has added some zing to the Japanese luxury brand’s cross over model. From an exterior viewpoint, the end result is a sleek, daringly rather sexy sight to behold. I drove the NX F Sport for a week recently through the urban sprawl of traffic – yes there is inexplicably still plenty of traffic during the pandemic – on highways, and ascended and descended muddy mountain roads along the central coast. Everywhere I stopped, observers commented on the gorgeous, glistening, otherworldly Celestial Blue paint. Driving by incognito really wasn’t an option with the F Sport. The enormous F Sport grille also visually announced my arrival and only added to my inherent badass sensibilities. It was really hard not to love the exterior of this Lexus NX F Sport.
In this Special Edition Black Line, only 1,000 have been produced – 750 gas models and 250 hybrid models – thus one can have the sensation, automotively speaking anyway, of being somewhat exceptional. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with electronically controlled variable transmission puts out 194-horsepower from the hybrid powertrain. Although in general size always matters, the kick the motor gets as a hybrid makes this model feel far more powerful than those horse numbers would at first blush indicate. Though I always want to talk torque, those numbers are mysteriously absent from information available from the manufacturer.
Meandering through traffic was an effortless affair and maneuverability was a cinch. The Lexus NX F Sport zipped me along comfortably without complaint. The All-Wheel Drive is standard. While the ride was smooth on the highways, I really wanted a tad more proverbial lead in my foot especially while overtaking other cars or on steeper inclines.
Inside the snazzy, electric blue stitching offsets nicely the black interior with metallic trim. It also adds high pizzazz to the car mats. Traditionalists will like the center console, leather covered, gear shift knob. I was also happy to see an actual analog dash clock that is so rare these days it almost seemed retro. The heated leather steering wheel was comfortable on chilly mornings. Sadly this model does not come with an optional NAV system, though it’s compatible with AppleCarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa. As a consistent multi-tasker, I didn’t like relying solely on my phone especially on long road trips or when out of the city. Hence for me personally, given the amount of time I spend behind the wheel, this alone would be a deal breaker.
I also prefer a touchscreen which is not an option on this model. The remote touch interface on the center console felt like a bad friend – present, but insensitive and infuriating. Those who like or have gotten used to large display screens will be disappointed with the 8-inch display. The back-up camera with dynamic gridlines had a crisp display. The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is standard and includes lane tracing and road sign assist and most importantly, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. The sound system has eight speakers.
Cargo space was impressive especially given that it’s a hybrid. With the rear seats down, it has a whopping 53.6 cubic feet. Even with the second row upright, there was still 16.8 cubic feet available which meant plenty of room for serious shopping stops or road trips with luggage and pet supplies.
The 10-way power seats made adjustment a snap.Though just 5’5” and a trim, avid daily runner, I found the front row of the cabin a bit cramped. Though Lexus seats are usually comfortable, and contoured seats naturally add to that, the bolsters in this model made the seats seem too contoured. During long distance driving, I stopped being comfortable after about an hour.
As one would expect, the NX is fuel efficient and gets good mileage. The EPA-rated fuel economy is 33 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway, with a combined 31 mpg. Putting on about 600 miles on the NX, I averaged 32 miles per gallon.
The MSRP of the Lexus NX 300h F Sport Black Line Special Edition is $46,810. To sweeten the deal, Lexus includes with this model a two-piece set of specially designed Zero Halliburton Edge lightweight luggage.
For exterior handsome good looks, fuel efficiency and cargo space in a small cross over, the 2021 Lexus NS 300h F Sport is a good value. In future renditions, I would hope to see more comfortable front row seating, more stereo speakers and an upgraded infotainment system with touch screen.