Price: $53,340 with extras
Pros—Redesigned. Better interior. Compliant ride. Quick. Troublesome touchpad gone. AWD. Safety items.
Cons—Almost no steering road feel. Notchy shifter. Unconventional exterior/interior door releases.
Bottom Line—Among the top luxury compact SUVs.
The redesigned 2022 NX 350 is larger, wider and taller. While streamlined, it looks much like its predecessor. The NX SUV is among the top-selling Lexus models in a crowded compact luxury field with upscale rivals such as the Audi Q4, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The all-wheel-drive NX 350 AWD I drove came with a Luxury package and some options. Lexus put my test vehicle’s bottom-line price at $53,340. There are a variety of NX models, including a 302-horsepower hybrid. Prices start at $39,025 for front-wheel-drive versions.
There’s also an F Sport version, with bolstered sport seats, special grille, new front/rear bumpers, 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, active variable suspension and performance dampers. Prices start at $39,025 for a front-wheel-drive version, and the most expensive version is a $57,975 hybrid.
The Luxury version has an available driver-oriented 14-inch touch screen canted towards the driver for fairly quick use, although I wouldn’t recommend using it while driving. The standard NX screen measures 9.8 inches. There are some manual controls, such as the one for the radio volume.
One major change is replacement of last year’s troublesome infotainment touchpad with a touchscreen, which is available with a standard 9.8 inch size.
The new 350 NX is roomier, easily seating four tall adults, or five in a pinch, as the center rear seat is firm and best left to the fold-down armrest with dual cupholders. Visibility is quite good from the driver’s seat.
The large cargo area has a power hatch and a moderately roomy under-floor storage area. Flipping down the rear seat backs enlarges the cargo area from 22.7 cubic feet to an impressive 46.9 cubic feet. And there are a fair amount of storage areas in the cabin, which has easily read hooded digital gauges.
My test car’s quiet new interior had a more modern look with classier materials. It is upscale with comfort, convenience and cosmetic items. They include a perforated leather-trimmed interior with unique chevron seat quilting, wood trim, cloud-connected navigation, power heated seats, power heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control with rear-seat vents, stereo system, (optional) wireless charger, power moonroof, 10-inch heads-up display that provides, among other things, the current drive mode (Economy, Regular or Sport) and road-sign assist.
There also is cloud-connected navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, along with USB audio input connections and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. A digital key is optional.
My test NX warmed up fast on frigid Chicago winter days. I especially appreciated the heated seats and steering wheel during a January 10-degree snowy day with a zero-degree wind chill factor.
Here’s a surprise: Unlocked doors aren’t opened by pulling the rigid handle. Rather, you must touch the inboard surface of the unmoving handle to open the door. Also, the interior door handles are opened with electrical assist. New owners should study the NX manual because the NX has some unconventional high-tech features.
The Normal, Economy and Sport modes are selected with a console control. Normal mode is fine for most driving, but the Sport mode provides the most driving fun. The NX felt a little sluggish in Economy mode in traffic.
Power comes from a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 275 horsepower and 317 pound/feet of torque. The base model has 203 horsepower, and there also are 239 and 302 horsepower NX versions.
Acceleration of my test NX was strong both in town and on highways. The transmission, which has a manual shift feature, worked smoothly. The 0-60 m.p.h. time is 6.8 seconds.
Fuel economy is an estimated 22 miles per gallon the city and 29 on highways.
This is no sports machine. While quick, the steering provided almost no road feel. And there was noticeable body lean while taking sweeping curves despite the AWD system and traction and vehicle stability control systems. On the plus side, the heavy, tall NX 350 acted nimbly in traffic and while maneuvering in tight spots.
The ride in all drive modes was compliant, which helps make this a good long-distance vehicle. And the brake pedal for the anti-lock brakes had a firm, positive action.
Safety features? Lots of them. They include Dynamic radar cruise control with curve speed management, Risk avoidance emergency steer assist, Left turn oncoming vehicle detection/braking, Frontal collision warning, Automatic emergency braking, Pedestrian and bicyclist detection, Lane tracing assist and Lane departure alert. There also are front and side curtain air bags.
The redesigned Lexus NX is beautifully built, with an under-hood area that is surgically neat, with easily reached fluid-filler areas. It promises to continue its winning ways with significant improvements needed to compete in the increasingly combative compact luxury SUV field.