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Eric's Autos: 2021 Lexus NX 300h

Eric Peters on

It has a gas-burning engine that powers the drive wheels, like any other car. In this case, it's a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. But like an electric car, it also has a high-voltage (nickel-metal hydride) battery pack that feeds volts to electric motors that can also power the drive wheels and accessories such as the air conditioning, which continues to work even when the gas engine is off.

The advantage to this combo layout is an electric car without the disadvantages of an electric car.

You don't have to worry about how far it can go before it runs out of range -- or how long you will have to wait to recharge.

It is capable of delivering 33 mpg in city driving -- which is in the same ballpark as many compact economy cars and a very impressive 11 mpg higher than the nonhybrid NX 300 delivers.

On the Road

There is another functional advantage the hybrid can tout to justify its higher price: its silence. This isn't just a quiet vehicle. It's an almost noiseless vehicle. All you'll hear as you roll down your driveway to the main road is the sound of gravel under your tires.

 

The gas engine comes on once you're on the road and rolling faster than about 25 mph, but it's quiet, too. Toyota (the parent company of Lexus) has been selling hybrids longer than any other car company and has refined the art of the seamless transition from silent electric drive to combustion-engine drive to an ... art.

At the Curb

Lexus built the NX, hybrid and not, to appeal to customers who like the larger Lexus RX -- which created the luxury crossover SUV class when the first one came out back in 1998 -- but who'd also like a bit less of it.

The midsize RX 350 isn't huge, but it is larger than many people who are looking for a luxury crossover need.

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