The NX200t derives its platform architecture from the well proven Toyota RAV4, but shares nothing whatsoever in terms of visual content inside or out, and gets its own unique high-performance powertrain.
With the F Sport trim grade the upscale vibe comes on much stronger too with a deep mouth front fascia and mesh grille. It drapes low to the ground with integrated cooling ducts and fog lights. Up top are sharply angled LED daytime running lights and HID headlamps.
Down the sides and to the rear, the F Sport continues the sport theme with styling elements that catch your eye starting with the larger 18” dark metallic finish wheels. The rear fascia here also gets substantial and nicely shaped dual exhaust tips.
Ours was a very striking shade of Ultrasonic Blue Mica that caught the sunlight nicely, offering lots of contrast over its creases and angles. Surprising however was its combination with a dark red interior trim color with the F Sport seats, I might have expected perhaps blue instead.
None the less, the interior is well trimmed and styled for its sporting theme with red stitching details all around and genuine aluminum trims. The sport seats however were trimmed in what Lexus calls NuLuxe, essentially vinyl. You can option leather at extra cost however.
The design of the interior is as bold as the exterior with as many angles, creases and drama. The center stack is a two-tier design that keeps all the controls within easy reach and it looks good too. Its high mounted infotainment screen is in the sun though, and is sometimes hard to see in certain light.
Using the menus for the audio, navigation and vehicle controls now happens through a console mounted touch-pad which replaced the mouse-like puck Lexus was known for. It’s not as easy to use and takes some practice to become proficient at.
Sound of the premium audio system is decent but I miss the Mark Levinson audio system option typcially available in Lexus vehicles as it is always worth the extra money.
The rear seat provides excellent space for passengers who can enjoy a relatively high seating position for this class as well as adjustable seat back recline. Those seats can fold up and down manually in a 60/40 split for full cargo area.
The floor isn’t 100% flat when the seats are folded, but is still versatile enough that the NX200t won’t lose its SUV status. A power operated rear door is available here as an extra cost option, though in this price range really ought to be standard.
Under the hood is an exclusive first for Lexus, a turbocharged engine. The 2.0 liter four-cylinder here pumps out 235 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque, delivering it to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
The transmission can be set to behave in different drive modes with the console mounted knob from fuel saving ECO, to Normal, and to a quick shifting Sport program. The steering wheel also offers paddles for quick shifts, in addition to the lever’s manual gate.
The Lexus NX200t is pretty good on fuel despite its extra power offering. The EPA rates it at 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. It’s rated at 25 mpg combined, but we beat that in our week of testing at 27 mpg combined.
It’s chassis while sharing some bones with the work-a-day Toyota RAV4, has an entirely different tune and feel. It has MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone rear suspension which Lexus says has been inspired by their racing programs.
While handling does lean toward sporting, it retains its upscale character on the highway and around town with a solid feeling of quality in the chassis that won’t disappoint having spent up into the brand. The body structure is free of shakes and rattles, as is the chassis over rougher surfaces.
The IIHS awards the NX200t with their highest honor, Top Safety Pick+. This comes due to its Good ratings across their battery of tests including the stringent new small-offset crash. And while ours was not optioned with it, the NX200t also offers crash avoidance systems which the IIHS likes.
Overall, the 2015 Lexus NX200t achieved 4.5 out of 5 stars for our review.