AT THE TRACK

Infotainment system failure sends Consumer Reports' 2015 Lexus NX 200t back to dealer

The system failed the day after we bought the brand-new car

Published: January 28, 2015 11:30 AM
This is not the message you expect to see the day after you buy a brand-new car.

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Picking up the Lexus NX—the latest luxury compact SUV to reach the market—for our test fleet went smoothly, but things changed the next morning. After I hopped in the NX for my commute to work, the engine fired up without a hitch, but the center screen would not operate. It showed only “Checking map disk in progress. Please wait for a moment.”

So I waited.

Then the display showed, “A program cannot be read. Please consult to a dealer” (see photo above).

What this system failure meant was no phone pairing, no radio, no navigation, and no backup camera. So I did what any 21st-century driver would do: I shut the car off, waited a few minutes, and turned it back on.

This did nothing except to set the screen in motion displaying the aforementioned messages again. I shut the car off a second time, exited, hit the “lock” button on the remote, and waited some more. Still, restarting this Lexus NX 200t did nothing to reboot the infotainment system.

So I drove it to the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center and told my tale to our shop boss. He decided to take the car back to the dealer.

Later that day, when checking various Lexus enthusiast websites, we noticed a few complaints of electronic gremlins, but nothing that resembled the infotainment-system problem our $43,000 car had. (Read: "6 cool things about the all-new Lexus NX.")

Consumer Reports' 2015 Lexus NX 200t

Initially, the Lexus dealership wasn’t sure what to make of the problem since the car is so new. But then the dealer determined that our NX 200t needs a complete head unit/radio, which is now on order. It should be installed in our car sometime next week. So we'll have to wait a bit before we sample the turbocharged 235-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and use the optional navigation system, 10-speaker sound system, and heated front seats.

We strongly encourage anyone whose NX flakes out on them to take it back to the dealer quickly, since the infotainment system controls so many vital functions.

Most Lexus models for which we have data offer superb reliability. (Our reliability Ratings are based strictly on subscriber data.) But we’ve also seen high numbers of complaints about infotainment systems from several automakers. In particular, more than one in five Infiniti Q50 sedan owners reported a problem with their InTouch system.

The NX is the latest model to get Lexus’ new Remote Touch Interface, or RTI, touchpad system. Whether this system turns out to be the source of long-term troubles remains to be seen.

We’ll let you know more about the health of our NX 200t and what it’s like to drive when we get it back from the dealer.

—Mike Quincy with Seung Min Yu

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