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As a luxury SUV that's not too big nor too much like a hatchback, the 2021 Lexus NX has a lot of appeal. It sits upright and gives drivers a great perspective of what's around them, and it has a nicely appointed cabin with plenty of room. For 2021, there are six NX trims available, three of which are hybrids. In an effort to provide prospective customers with all the information they need to make smart purchasing decisions, this guide will go over exactly how each trim differs from the other.
Compare the 2021 Lexus NX 300 vs 300 F Sport Trim. What is the Difference?
These trims run on turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The engine on a 300 model has a displacement of two liters and is capable of generating 235 horsepower. Torque is a strength as well, as the NX has over 250 pound-feet of torque. A good match for the engine is an electronically controlled transmission with six speeds, and paddle shifters are conveniently located on the steering wheel for those times when drivers want to take command over shifting.
A front-wheel drivetrain is standard, though there's the option to get all-wheel drive if anyone wants to have extra traction when the conditions are less than ideal. The slight downfall of getting an all-wheel-drive NX is that fuel efficiency is diminished by one mile per gallon. Also, having all-wheel drive on a NX 300 or 300 F Sport costs about $1,400.
While the NX 300 rides on 17-inch wheels, the 300 F Sport gets to use 18-inch wheels. The F Sport comes with a sport-tuned suspension and lateral performance dampers to improve overall handling. With the F Sport, customers have the option of putting in an adaptive variable suspension. This can really smooth things out and can greatly enhance the ride quality.
What's pretty cool about the F Sport is that it has Active Sound Control. Through this program, the audio system can generate the sound of the engine and broadcast the noise through the speakers. This is all done to give people the feeling that they're driving a sports car. Active Sound Control can be turned on and off, so people can choose exactly when they want it to sound like they're driving down a race track.
Other upgrades found in the F Sport can be seen on the exterior of the SUV. Both the 300 and 300 F Sport have Bi-LED headlights, LED taillamps, and roof rails, but only the F Sport has higher quality LED daytime running lights and a bigger, bolder front grille design. Those daytime running lights have integrated turn indicators, and the grille is surrounded by a smoked chrome trim. Further, F Sport has black mirror caps.
The 300 does have the option of getting the F Sport's daytime running lights as part of a package. Both of these trims come with the option to put in a power moonroof, wipers that can automatically turn on when it starts to rain, a kick sensor on the power rear door, and LED headlights that can adjust their angle and direction when the vehicle turns.
Inside the cabin of the both the 300 and 300 F Sport, there are several high-end features. Smart Access and push-button start are quite convenient, and the perforated NuLuxe seats feel luxurious. The 300 has a leather steering wheel and shifter, and those components are upgraded with perforated leather in the F Sport.
The F Sport has some nice touches, such as a black headliner and aluminum pedals, that contribute to the athletic nature of the vehicle. It also has heated and ventilated front seats as well as supportive bolsters built into its front seats. It's important to note that heated front seats or heated and ventilated front seats are options in the 300.
These two trims can be set up to act as Wi-Fi hotspots, and they can be remotely started through the Lexus app on a smartphone. As one would imagine, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all standard. Amazon Alexa is another standard component, and this is a great bonus feature because it allows the vehicle to connect with other Amazon Alexa devices. An eight-inch touchscreen is standard, with there being the opportunity to upgrade to a 10.3-inch touchscreen. Likewise, navigation and a premium speaker system are options on the 300 and 300 F Sport.
Compare the 2021 Lexus NX 300 F Sport vs 300 Luxury - What is the Difference?
Moving to the 300 Luxury from the 300 F Sport changes the aesthetic a bit. The Luxury doesn't have the same sporty elements that the F Sport has, but it does have some notable upgrades. For instance, it comes standard with heated and ventilated front seats, perforated leather upholstery, and the Lexus Memory System. Through this memory system, multiple people can set their favorite seating positions. In addition, the positions of the side mirrors and steering wheel can be programmed. As seen in the 300 and 300 F Sport, the Luxury trim has optional power-folding rear seats that can recline.
The available exterior upgrades that the F Sport has become standard in the Luxury. Specifically, the Luxury has the windshield wipers that can automatically turn on and off, and it has a power tilt-and-slide moonroof that's great for letting in natural light and making the cabin feel more airy.
In terms of technology, the Luxury stands out from the F Sport because it has navigation and a 10.3-inch touchscreen. The navigation program can offer a few different routes, determine how traffic may affect travel time, and suggest points of interest to visit. Dynamic Voice Command technology allows the Lexus to understand millions of phrases. By using natural language, people can control the climate system, music playback, input addresses into the navigation program, and more.
The Luxury, like the other 300 trims, can have either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. It has the same type of 18-inch wheels that the F Sport has, but it doesn't have the special suspension that has been installed in the F Sport.
Compare the 2021 Lexus NX 300 Luxury vs 300h AWD. What is the Difference?
The key difference between the 300h and the 300 Luxury (and the other 300 trims) is found under the hood. The "h" in 300h designates that it's a hybrid model. It runs on an inline, four-cylinder engine along with an electric motor. Together, the two components produce 194 horsepower.
Though the 300h doesn't feel as spirited as the 300 Luxury, its fuel efficiency is significantly higher. A hybrid NX can achieve a combined 31 miles per gallon compared with a non-hybrid's 25 (FWD) or 24 (AWD) miles per gallon.
The 300h versions, as opposed to the 300 models, come standard with all-wheel drive. This may be important for some drivers, and it saves them from having to part with an extra $1,400 to have all-wheel drive installed.
Cargo volume is slightly lower in the hybrid NX SUVs. Whereas the 300 models have 17.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 54.5 cubic feet of storage space behind the first row, these numbers are reduced to 16.8 and 53.7 cubic feet, respectively, with the hybrids. Leg room, however, isn't compromised at all. Second-row passengers in any of the 300 trims get to enjoy 36.1 inches of leg room, with the front-row passengers being able to spread out with 42.1 inches of leg room.
With the 300h, the wheels go back down to 17-inch versions, though there is the option to get 18-inch ones. The enhanced LED daytime running lights of the Luxury are taken off of the 300h. The 300h does have a concealed exhaust system and an available moonroof.
Inside the cabin of these two trims, the differences may sound familiar. This is because the 300h has the same interior as the 300 has. It has perforated NuLuxe rather than perforated leather, and heating (or heating and ventilation) can be put in at an additional cost.
The 300h goes back to having an eight-inch touchscreen, and it does have all the standards that modern customers are looking for, like smartphone compatibility and Bluetooth. It just doesn't have the extra navigation system, but it can be put in if preferred.
Compare the 2021 Lexus NX 300h AWD vs 300h Luxury AWD. - What is the Difference?
Moving to the 300h Luxury brings back all the high-end features that were previously described when going over the 300 Luxury trim. Benefits of owning a 300h Luxury include having Dynamic Voice Command, the larger touchscreen, front seats with heating and ventilation, and perforated leather seats.
Up until this point, safety hasn't really been touched upon. This is because all of the NX trims discussed so far have the same safety package. Lexus has built its NX SUVs in a way that protects passengers and reduces the likelihood of getting into accidents. The NX comes standard with automatic high beams, a steering assist feature incorporated into the lane departure alert function, blind spot monitoring, an alert that sounds when traffic is crossing behind a NX when it's in reverse, lane tracing assist, and automatic emergency braking. This last system, automatic emergency braking, can engage when the NX is about to hit another vehicle or a pedestrian in front of it.
Compare the 2021 Lexus NX 300h Luxury AWD vs 300h F Sport AWD Black Line Special Edition. What is the Difference?
The 300h F Sport Black Line Special Edition has an aesthetic that's perfectly described by its name. Like the other F Sport trim, it has a special front fascia and black outside mirrors. It also has overfenders and 18-inch split-10 spoke wheels that have a dark finish. These wheels are exclusive to this trim. The Black Line trim is also the only one to come standard with a hands-free power rear door.
Inside the cabin of the 300h F Sport Black Line Special Edition, things look pretty similar to how they appear in the 300 F Sport. The black headliner is sleek, and there are the same type of sport seats and aluminum pedals that the F Sport has. The Black Line Special Edition has even more elements, to include black NuLuxe seats with blue stitching, cargo mats with a blue stitching, and a metallic interior trim that really pops in comparison with all the dark elements around it.
The Black Line Special Edition only offers an eight-inch center display. Behind the wheel, it has a few sporty instrument gauges; these are seen in the 300, 300 Luxury, and 300 F Sport as well.
Driving the 300h F Sport Black Line Special Edition can be a fun experience. Just like the 300 F Sport, the hybrid version has lateral performance dampers and a higher quality suspension system than the other trims have. There are several drive modes on this trim (and the other NX trims). ECO maximizes efficiency, Sport mode makes the engine more responsive, and Normal fits right in the middle. The hybrid models of the Lexus NX have a 100% EV mode that can be used for limited time periods.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Overall, the Lexus NX has a lot of features that people will like. Its cabin is spacious and decked out with either leather or synthetic leather seats, it has an enviable infotainment system, and it has many advanced safety components. While it doesn't necessarily have the capabilities that some other SUVs has, it can handle itself quite well in most situations.
For those prospective buyers who really enjoy pushing their vehicles, the F Sport models are recommended. With some slight changes to their design, these trims feel much more athletic, and their additional cost is reasonable. Not only do they have mechanical enhancements, but they also have nicer front seats that people are sure to appreciate.
If a steady, smooth ride is perfectly acceptable for other consumers, than the other trims would be practical choices. The base model is ideal for someone on a budget who likes the idea of driving a Lexus, and the Luxury trims would be recommended for those with extra money to spend on things like leather seats, larger displays, and integrated navigation.
• Compare the 2019 Lexus NX Trim Levels