latest automotive news, best new and used cars, find a new car eed4d_2018-Lexus-NX300h-610x407 Shrinking Hybrid Premiums: 2018 Lexus NX300h Gets More Equipment, Much Lower Price Lexus   The Lexus NX, set for a MY2018 refresh, is one of America’s three most popular premium brand utility vehicles, but Lexus clearly wants customers to feel even more free to choose the pricier NX hybrid.

For the 2018 model year, CarsDirect has learned that Lexus will include the full compliment of Safety System+ active safety features as standard equipment on both the NX300 (formerly known as the NX20ot) and NX300h, but the hybrid’s additional kit is accompanied by a significant $1,385 price cut.

In fact, with the additional equipment factored in, the price reduction is even more noteworthy. Pre-collision and dynamic radar cruise control were worth $900 on the 2017 Lexus NX300h, which essentially means the NX300h’s base price has been chopped by $2,285.

Perhaps Lexus isn’t content with holding the gold and bronze-medal positions on the luxury SUV/crossover sales leaderboard. Could serious price alterations be what it takes for Lexus to be the builder of America’s two best-selling luxury utility vehicles in 2018?

One thing we know: the Lexus RX isn’t about to give up its top perch. Consistently the top dog in America’s luxury SUV/crossover wars, the RX is outselling the second-ranked Cadillac XT5 by a 57-percent margin — a 24,222-unit sales gap — through 2017’s first eight months. The Lexus NX, meanwhile, is roughly 5,600 sales back of the Cadillac.

By all accounts, the Lexus NX was never supposed to be this much of a hit. Early on, we realized that Lexus was benefiting from the NX’s insertion into the lineup because it wasn’t cannibalizing the RX, also a two-row semi-affordable luxury crossover. That brotherly love is continuing despite the fact that the NX generates twice as many sales as Lexus anticipated. Lexus hoped to sell 2,200 NXs per month in the United States. So far this year, Lexus is selling 4,600 NXs per month.

But Lexus clearly wants the NX300h to play a bigger role in the lineup’s success. According to HybridCars.com, the NX hybrid accounts for just 5 percent of the NXs sold in America so far this year. Compare that with an 8-percent share for Lexus’ RX hybrid and Toyota Highlander Hybrid and an 11-percent take rate for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

With the 2018 Lexus NX300h’s price cut to $39,330, it’s just $950 more than the cost of getting into a non-hybrid all-wheel-drive Lexus NX300. (The NX300h comes standard with all-wheel drive.) Last year, the leap to the NX hybrid was worth $3,235.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corp.]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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