Lexus is jumping into the suddenly crowded field for compact luxury SUVs.
Toyota’s luxury division will welcome the all-new NX compact crossover SUV later this month at the Beijing Auto Show. The vehicle will serve as an entry-level crossover, smaller in price and stature than the company’s wildly popular RX.
In addition to entering a new segment, the NX marks the the first time Lexus has used a turbocharged engine.
The NX 200t will come with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, Lexus said. The NX 300h is a hybrid that will use a 2.5-liter gas engine. Details on power for both models haven’t been released, but the Lexus ES 300h sedan uses the same hybrid setup as the NX and it’s rated at 200 horsepower.
The NX is loosely based on the Toyota RAV4 and will come in either front-wheel-drive or optional AWD. The NX shares an aggressive, angular look with other models in Lexus’ lineup, including the compact IS sedan. Inside, new options will include a wireless charging tray for phones, and a touch-sensitive trackpad to control the infotainment system.
Lexus’ foray into this smaller segment isn’t a surprise. The market share for luxury compact SUVs has quadrupled in the last five years and is expected to continue growing for the next five years.
The NX will have several stout new competitors. Porsche’s tidy Macan crossover goes on sale soon, and later this year the new Lincoln MKC, Audi Q3, and Mercedes-Benz GLA will be available. BMW already sells the X1, and Jaguar has displayed a concept crossover that will likely reach production in 2016.
The segment is hot because buyers are coming in from two distinct groups: Younger buyers of their first luxury vehicle and older buyers looking to downsize without losing luxury features.
The NX will make its official debut at the Beijing Auto Show on April 20. It will cruise into Lexus dealerships later this year.
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