Should I Buy a Lexus NX or a Lexus RX?

The Lexus NX in black wheel trim.

Decisions, decisions. That’s the challenge new vehicle shoppers face when considering one of more than 400 models available to them these days. However, that search becomes much easier when you narrow the field to a particular brand, such as Lexus, which is the luxury marque for Toyota Motors.

Even so, you may find yourself stumped when comparing utility vehicles, as Lexus offers five models plus three hybrid variants. If you’re looking for a five-passenger model, you’ve immediately narrowed your search to three: the Lexus UX 200, NX 300, and the RX 350, although the latter does have available third-row seats, pushing your capacity to seven individuals.

That said, if you want comfortable room for five, then you’ll want to eliminate the small UX and concentrate on the NX and RX, the latter without the third-row package. There are some important differences between the two, but both do move five people in cosseted luxury.

The following are important points about Lexus NX and RX:

1. New features for 2020.

The Lexus NX benefits from a marginally expanded driver-assist safety features list. As for the RX, the changes are much more robust in keeping with its mid-cycle upgrade. Indeed, the 2020 RX has new front and rear fascia, updated suspension hardware, and updated tech.

2. Comparable storage space.

We see this a lot: storage space that’s nearly the same between different-sized models. The reason? To add more passenger space in the larger model to set them apart. Indeed, the closeness is quite apparent: 17.7 cubic feet for the NX and 18.4 cubic feet for the RX. With the second-row seat folded, the separation is a bit more apparent 54..6 versus 57.6 cubic feet. In effect, both models offer decent storage capacity, especially behind the first row.

3. Laudable tech features.

Both models feature an 8-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. HD Radio, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa are included with the RX. You’ll find six USB ports in the RX, while the NX has just one port. The NX has an 8-speaker audio system; the RX comes with 9 speakers. NX options include a 10.3-inch screen, navigation, and 10- and 14-speaker audio systems. The RX has an available 12.3-inch screen, navigation, and 12- and 15-speaker audio packages. Both models rely on the Lexus Remote touch interface, which has a steep learning curve.


Lexus NX (top); Lexus RX (bottom).

4. Diverging performance methods.

The Lexus RX is 10 inches longer and 300 pounds heavier than the NX, with the added weight due in part to its larger engine displacing 3.5 liters. This V6 produces 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the NX makes 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Both engines work with an 8-speed automatic transmission. We’ve driven both models and can say the NX is just as fast as the RX in all things passing. Lexus may use diverging ways to deliver power with the two models, but they get it done.

5. Choose your F Sport.

Both models offer an F Sport variant, which includes trim enhancements, such as mesh grilles, a black headliner, leather touches, and aluminum pedals. You’ll also get a sport-tuned suspension, giving this model a handling advantage over the base trim.

6. Safety is their concern.

Credit Lexus with not shying away from including a long list of standard safety features. The NX received the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ plus award, while the RX earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA. Both models come with a roster of safety equipment, including pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition. The RX adds forward collision warning and forward automatic emergency braking, with the latter an upgrade on the NX.


The beautiful interior of the Lexus RX F Sport.

7. NuLuxe or real leather.

Both models offer standard NuLuxe fabric, which is a worthwhile alternative to real leather. For those of you who despise the thought of sacrificing animals for your comfort, your comfort isn’t sacrificed with imitation leather, at least not in Lexus. It has the look and feel of the real thing, which should please most buyers.

Lexus NX or RX: Your Choice

Lexus charges from $36,720 for the NX and $44,150 for the RX. That’s about a $7,500 difference between the two. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 upgrade with either model and should be considered by anyone living in a snowy climate.

All in all, Lexus has two strong competitors in the NX and RX. Besides F Sport models, both have hybrid variants. We didn’t cover those models here, but each one may be worth a look, especially if fuel efficiency is a priority for you.


2020 Lexus NX Specifications


Lexus 2020 NX
Segment Compact SUV
Price Range $36,720 to $48,575
Destination Charge $1,025
Standard Engine 2.0-liter, turbo I4
Horsepower 235 hp @ 4,800-5,600 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 lb.-ft. @ 1,650-4,000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,940 to 4,050
Wheelbase (inches) 104.7
Length (inches) 182.3
Width (inches) 73.6
Height (inches) 64.8
Headroom (f,r…inches) 38.2, 38.1
Legroom (f,r…inches) 42.8, 36.1
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.3, 55.3
Hip room (f,r…inches) 55.1, 53.9
Storage (cubic feet) 17.7, 54.6
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) 5,090 to 5,200
Towing (pounds) 2,000
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 15.9
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 22/28/24 (AWD); 22/28/25 (FWD) 22/27/24 (AWD F Sport)
Manufacturing Plant Tahara, Aichi Japan

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.


2020 Lexus RX Specifications


Lexus 2020 RX
Segment Midsize SUV
Price Range $44,150 to $49,350
Destination Charge $1,025
Standard Engine 3.5-liter, V6
Horsepower 295 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 267 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 4,222 to 4,387
Wheelbase (inches) 109.8
Length (inches) 192.5
Width (inches) 74.6
Height (inches) 67.7
Headroom (f,r…inches) 39.4, 39.1
Legroom (f,r…inches) 44.1, 38.0
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.8, 57.6
Hip room (f,r…inches) 56.6, 56.1
Storage (cubic feet) 18.4, 56.3
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) 5,666 to 5,864
Towing (pounds) 3,500
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 19.2
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 19/26/22(AWD); 20/28/23(FWD)
Manufacturing Plant Cambridge, Ontario Canada

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.


See AlsoAbout the Refreshed 2020 Lexus RX

Photos copyright Lexus. All rights reserved.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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