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Non-Mechanical Lexus NX Problems
As vehicles “advance” car manufacturers have started to realize that some drivers prefer that their somewhat computerized vehicles should act a little more like a technical device. While this is certainly not true of all vehicles, some like the Lexus NX no longer have the straight up and down shifter that requires a bit of elbow strength.
The Lexus NX shifter is a bit unique, and maybe you’ll grow to appreciate it. The shifter is a button that sits atop the shifter column, but it doesn’t move back and forth in the traditional sense. Instead, pushing the shifter left and then up just a bit shifts to reverse. Left and down is drive. Straight left for a couple of seconds is neutral. “S” mode involves being in drive than shifting further back.
While I’m sure most people can understand this after a few minutes of general vehicle training with a knowledgeable Lexus sales consultant or delivery coordinator, it might take some muscle memory timing to get used to. A small graphic to the right of the shifter attempts to explain how to use the shifter as well.
So here is what you are probably going to ask: Why did they make it different? I have a couple of easy answers for you, based on my experience with similar vehicles, like recent editions of the Buick LaCrosse: Some drivers are a little older, and the manufacturer wants to ensure that they are making the conscience decision to shift their vehicle in a specific way - in other words, drive is a little harder to get to so that a driver who isn’t mentally ready to drive can’t easy get there. To me, the other reason for this kind of change is making the vehicle feel futuristic. You can have all the style and infotainment in the world but still use an old school gear shifter - and it won’t feel “new.”
Longer Stopping Distance
This issue isn’t technically mechanical, because it isn’t an internal issue. The Lexus NX hybrid and non-hybrid editions have different stopping distances. The non-hybrid NX stops in 127 feet on dry roads while the hybrid needs about 12 feet further. Wet conditions add up to 138 feet on wet and 152 with the hybrid.
The reason for this is most likely the inclusion of a battery within the hybrid model. We also aren’t sure, but Lexus might be trying to use the same brakes for both vehicles with a bit of a weight difference.
There are two things you should do here anyway: Drive for the conditions. If you are experiencing snow or rain, slow down a bit - regardless of the vehicle you are driving. Secondly, tires can absolutely help you shorten your stopping distance by at least a little bit - especially tires that aren’t badly worn. If you are noticing more skidding while you stop, or near misses, measure your tire tread or get them inspected.
I’ll be honest: A lot of people have this complaint about modern crossover and small SUVs, and for a reason. The windows on most smaller SUVs are not very big. While this is purely speculation, it might be safe to say that a manufacturer like Lexus might prefer to surround you with plastic, sheelmetal, and some carbon fiber instead of glass that could burst and be sent flying in a million shards into the cabin.
Most manufacturers, like Lexus, make up for the lack of visibility in the cabin with safety features that include a backup camera (there is no way you can see what’s happening near your bumper, even in a small car with big windows), side radar detection, and even a 360 degree camera.
While we don’t advocate for the “look” this creates with a sheet metal bubble, we’ll take the safety features on a Lexus protecting us from the unseen over larger windows any day.
We understand this is a luxury vehicle. The hybrid powertrain on the Lexus NX is more costly than the all gasoline variety - which is completely to be expected, but might also make it a bit less worthwhile to some buyers who otherwise would want to switch away from gas. Just be careful doing a miles per gallon calculator to see how much money you are really saving. If you are motivated to spend more to help the environment and clear the air of emissions, then good for you!
Most reviews through Car and Driver noted that compared to vehicles in the same class, the Lexus NX offers a luxury feel, but not luxury speed. Most drivers complained that while the turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides some pep, it doesn’t have the same horsepower as comparable luxury cars like Mercedes-Benz - though we are sure it also gets better gas mileage.
Unfortunately, the infotainment screen within a vehicle is actually a rather complex piece of software that tries to do anything from receiving bluetooth phone calls to providing navigation while you drive. Things go wrong!
A few users on CarComplaints said that the navigation system can be slow to respond, or get hung up on seemingly nothing. The most frequently cited fix is rebooting the system or bringing it to a dealer for a reset. Others also stated that the navigation system isn’t nearly as efficient with route building as Google Maps or Apple Maps, and often used out of date info to take users miles off track. Kind of an annoyance for what is a higher end vehicle, especially if you are trying to get to work and cart the kids around.
Lexus NX: Are the problems worth buying?
Lexus provides the reliability we expect from a car brand that is frequently mentioned in the top three for customer satisfaction. Compared to so many other vehicles, the NX has very few mechanical problems, considering that it was first released in 2015 which is ample time to pile up all sorts of issues.
Many of the problems we presented in regard to non-mechanical problems are truly opinions. Some drivers might be excited about a different kind of gear shift. Few people will like the potential problems with the navigation system and radio, but they can b e corrected by updating the vehicle’s software at your dealership or resetting.
The NX is otherwise a fun and capable SUV. The particular issues we brought up earlier aren’t a big deal at all and we would gladly pursue the vehicle whether used or new.
I also realize when explaining problems with the NX that the sample size of complains is very small. Lexus doesn’t sell all that many NXs, so you aren’t going to see the same volume of complaints you might out of a much more popular budget vehicle like a Chevrolet Silverado or Toyota RAV4. Still, the lack of complaints on CarComplaints also represent a positive - the dealer might be taking care of the Lexus NX owners who do experience problems in an unseen way that doesn’t prompt a complaints - also keeping mind that people could complain to government resources but they have not yet.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding