Lexus UX vs NX

As SUVs continue to dominate the car market, it’s no surprise that two of the most eligible choices—the Lexus UX and Lexus NX—have buyers wondering which of Lexus’s two luxury crossover offerings is the superior option in 2021.

In this comparison, we’ll break down all the specs of both the UX and NX 2021, so you know exactly which SUV is right for you.

Quick Summary

The Lexus UX is a “subcompact” crossover SUV, whilst the Lexus NX is a slightly bigger “compact” crossover SUV. The NX is not only bigger, but houses a more powerful engine and more features as standard. However, the aging Lexus NX is due for an overhaul in 2022, so the UX is the safer buy right now.

Lexus UX front 3/4 view
UX
Lexus NX front 3/4 view
NX

Styling

While it might be vain, the looks of a car can also be a deciding factor on which is the best choice for you.

The Lexus UX kicks things off on a very positive note. This subcompact crossover boasts enough roomy seating for 5 passengers. The front of the vehicle is decorated with Lexus’ iconic grille, which extends across much of the car’s bow end.

The general aesthetic is very modern and trim, but far from minimalist. The LED headlights, as well as the stylish shaping and linework of the car’s body give it a very professional atmosphere. Combined with the petite rear window, this SUV is a love letter to those who are fans of recent vehicles coming out from Japan.

Lexus UX rear view
UX
Lexus NX rear view
NX

The Lexus NX is essentially the same car, albeit a compact SUV, a bit larger, and a bit less trim. The same features on the front of the car are still present, as is the distinctive side design work. The NX also has enough seating for five, as well as the smaller rear window. However, the back end of the vehicle varies quite a bit. Rather than the mono light bar, the NX features two tail lights and more attractive, luxurious exhausts.

Ultimately, the finer details between the two’s designs are incredibly personal. Generally speaking however, the UX is a more stripped back version of a busy-looking car. For some this is very appealing, but if you’re after something with all the bombast a luxury vehicle should have, the NX is the one for you.

Lexus UX interior
UX
Lexus NX interior
NX

Pricing

Of course, money matters too. Being relatively similar SUVs, the most glaring difference to many eyes is that the Lexus UX has a price range of $32,900 – $37,600, whereas the NX sits between $37,610 – $45,460.

Each of the two crossovers are well-priced for the vehicles on offer, even including the more expensive model variants such as the NX300 AWD F Sport.

Ultimately, the Nexus NX is the bigger vehicle of the two, as well as the more powerful. This solid spec boost is achieved with a price tag that’s not much higher too, so you’re certainly getting your value for money. The caveat is that while slightly smaller than the NX, the UX is a more recent car, featuring newer and more up-to-date technology.

Regardless, the price for each is reasonable and certainly value for money.

Performance

Being the most important part of the driving experience, performance always matters when comparing to models. Luckily, neither the UX or NX is bad when it comes to execution, but there are some finer differences between the two.

The baseline UX 200 model runs on a 2.0 liter inline-4 gas engine with 6 speed automatic transmission. With 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft torque, the UX moves speedily and accelerates smoothly. There is also the Lexus UX self-charging Hybrid model, which bumps up the horsepower to 181 and improves fuel economy.

Meanwhile, the big brother of the two, the Lexus NX 300 comes with a 2.0L inline turbo 4-cylinder petrol engine as standard. This produces 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Like the UX, the Lexus NX can also be had as a self-charging hybrid (NX 300h).

Outside of raw power, the UX uses a standard 10 speed direct shift transmission. Meanwhile, the more expensive NX has a more robust mode of transmission, namely in the 6 speed sequential shift, which is an electron transmission that utilizes paddle shifters and intelligence.

Passenger and Cargo Space

Cutting down to the data, there is a clear winner when it comes to space between the UX and NX. It’s the Lexus NX.

Lexus UX seating
Back seats in the Lexus UX (shown) are notably more cramped than those in the NX

The subcompact UX has 42 inches of legroom in the front foot wells, as well as 37.2 inches of headroom for front passengers. Passengers in the back seats are given 33.1 inches of legroom and 36.3 inches of headroom.

While Lexus’s seats are possibly the most comfortable on the luxury market, the likes of the subcompact Mercedes GLA handily beats when it comes to rear-row passenger legroom. In many ways, the Lexus UX borders on being a hatchback than a subcompact crossover.

Conversely, the NX has the same amount of 25.5 cubic foot trunk space, as well as the maximum 54.6 cubic feet with the seats folded down. Where the NX slightly trumps the UX however is in passenger space. The NX measures in with 42.8 inches of front legroom and 38.2 inches of front headroom, as well as 36.1 inches of back legroom and 38.1 inches of back passenger headroom.

Safety

Both cars received 5-star overall safety ratings from the NHTSA. The Lexus NX received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, while the UX received a Top Safety Pick award.

For 2021, both Lexuses receive Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard equipment.

Verdict

Being the most important part of the driving experience, performance always matters when comparing to models. Luckily, neither the UX or NX is bad when it comes to execution, but there are some finer differences between the two.

Ultimately, both of these 2021 models are very similar, and neither will be a disappointment if you’re searching for an excellent luxury SUV.

If you lean towards the idea of a smaller, slightly more money-savvy driving experience, the UX is a great choice for a vehicle.

If you find yourself needing extra power, regularly putting kids in the back, or carrying a lot of goods in the back of your car, then the NX inches forward just enough to make the slightly more expensive side of its running costs worth it.

Related: Lexus NX vs RX