The Lexus NX is a five-passenger compact, luxury crossover that first came to market in 2014. For the 2022 model year, it received an overhaul with refreshed looks, updated multimedia, new powertrains, and more safety features. This new model has set the stage for a new era over at Lexus. It's the first to introduce an updated exterior style sans a Lexus badge in the back, first plug-in hybrid Lexus, and the first to adopt a new multimedia interface.
The NX is available in four different powertrains with either front or all-wheel drive. NX 250 models come standard with a 203 horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5L in-line 4-cylinder. NX 350 models increase performance with a 2.4L turbo inline four-cylinder that delivers 275 horsepower exclusively with AWD. The first hybrid option is the NX 350h which pairs the 2.5L with two high-torque electric motors to offer a combined 239 horsepower. And finally, the first-ever plug-in hybrid is the NX 450h+ which gets 304 total system horsepower offering an estimated combined 84 MPGe.
Also new for 2022 is Lexus Safety System 3.0 which is standard on all NX models. New standard advanced features include risk-avoidance emergency steer assist, left turn oncoming vehicle detection/braking, right/left turn oncoming pedestrian detection/braking, and dynamic radar cruise control with curve speed management. These features join previous standards like road sign assist, pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control. Prices start at $37,950 for an NX 250 FWD and climb as high as a starting price of $56,900 for an NX 450h+ F Sport model. There's a lot of competition in this segment including the Acura RDX, Audi Q3/Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT4, Infiniti QX50, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lincoln Corsair and Volvo XC40. After a week in the NX 450h+ here's what stood out specifically on the hybrid...
Exterior Style (+)
The NX has grown up in its second generation. It's longer, wider, and taller than the previous model but still within the parameters of the compact class. The new dimensions give the NX a better stance with good proportions. It retains the signature spindle grille, but it has been refined and is even more visually impactful. Flanking the grille are LED headlights with a bold lighting signature seen across the Lexus lineup. Models equipped with the F Sport package get a unique grille and bumpers with a sportier look. Around back, new LED taillights stretch across the entire hatch with LEXUS spelled out across the center. The plug-in hybrid looks the same as the rest, aside from the plug-in port on the driver's side rear quarter panel. Standard on all 450h+ models are 20" dark grey metallic wheels, Bi-LED headlamps, LED tail lights, and roof rails. Eleven color options are available with three of those being exclusive to the F Sport models.
My time was spent in an NX 450h+ AWD equipped with the 2.5L turbo i4 paired with electric power that delivered 304 total system horsepower. Acceleration is impressive with an estimated 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds, the fastest of all NX models. There was sufficient pep to scoot through traffic for a fun drive. The electric motors boost torque for a quicker overall response in passing. The overall ride is smooth and controlled at all speeds. The NX feels nimble with responsive steering. Quick turns and avoiding potholes were easy and there was no significant body lean. The center of gravity feels good and the electronically adaptive suspension delivers a comfortable ride. It offers three drive modes, normal, eco, and sport which can be changed via a dial in the center console. The standard AWD system uses a second independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels to maximize fuel economy. This is an engaging crossover with a comfortable ride suitable for longer drives.
Electric Advantages (+)
The first-ever NX 450h+ comes with an estimated EPA range of 36 miles on electric power only via a high-capacity lithium-ion battery. Combined with the 2.0L engine, the estimated EPA range is 84 MPGe. A high-output, high-efficiency system reduces power loss and results in faster charging times. Using the maximum charging current of 240V, the plug-in hybrid can be fully charged in approximately two-and-a-half hours when equipped with the optional 6.6 kW Expedited Onboard Charger.
When it arrived with a full 14.5-gallon tank it offered a range of over 543 miles. After a week of my standard driving, I barely tapped into the gas as I recharged the 36 miles of electric range each night by plugging into a standard 120V outlet. The NX does require premium fuel.
Multimedia System (+)
Lexus has long been in need of a new multimedia interface and the NX is the first model to get one. The new system pairs with a standard 9.8-inch touchscreen (or optional 14-inch screen) that extends from the digital cluster behind the steering wheel with a slight angle towards the driver. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard and once connected I had no issues with the CarPlay. The optional Mark Levinson 17-speaker 1,500-watt surround system fills the NX with clear audio.
The new Lexus interface features high-resolution graphics and a more modern execution. The menus have been simplified and are much easier to navigate through the screens. The system incorporates an intelligent voice assistant in which you can utilize the command "Hey Lexus" to adjust the climate, navigate directions or change audio options. This system can be personalized via cloud technology that can be transferred to other Lexus vehicles with the same system.
The touchscreen design is sleek with two climate control dials at the bottom corners that look chic. There's also a small volume dial at the bottom center with quick touch buttons for defrosters on either side so that you don't need to navigate the touchscreen on cold Chicago mornings. Features such as heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, advanced park, ambient lighting, WIFI, and driver connect can all be done through the touchscreen, voice commands, or steering wheel controls. Over-the-air updates offer real-time updates for mapping and enriched media experiences. The cloud-based native navigation is also available to occupants with or without a network connection. Gone from the system is the center console the touchpad controls.
The overall interior layout is both functional and modern. Drivers will face a simple digital cluster with views that can be customized to the driver's preference. The leather steering wheel is simple with paddle shifters and controls for the multimedia interface. The wheel design is sophisticated and provides a comfortable grip. The dash layout is driver-centric with a sporty feel. Materials are all soft to the touch and high-quality. Below the multimedia touchscreen is an appropriately placed wireless charging pad with nearby USB A and C ports.
The center console consists of an electronic gear selector that utilizes a short knob that moves through the gears non-linearly. It takes some time to get used to navigate through the gears, but ultimately was an execution I liked better than others out there. Also in the center console are two large cup holders, storage, and controls for some driver assist features. The center console storage has a neat feature that opens in two directions to face either the driver or passenger.
The overall interior space is more spacious than the previous model and offers reasonable head and leg room for a compact class. The seats are both comfortable and supportive. Optional features include a panoramic sunroof, heated rear seats, black open-pore wood trim, and a flashy red leather interior.
Door Handles (+)
One unique feature is the execution of door handles. Outside, most vehicle handles pull out or flip up, but on the NX there is a touch sensor on the inside of the handle to release the door. The actual handle never moves as it's fully controlled by the embedded digital latch. On the inside the handles are also different with a slim lever that works more like a button rather than a traditional handle. Both executions take some getting used to and even confused my kids who normally figure these things out quickly. Note that there is an emergency latch in place should the vehicle lose power or the digital technology malfunction.
The NX is the first Lexus to receive the updated Safety System + 3.0 which includes the following driver assist features:
* * Risk avoidance emergency steer assist
* * Left turn oncoming vehicle detection/braking
* * Right/left turn oncoming pedestrian detection/braking
* * Dynamic radar cruise control with curve speed management
* * Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
* * All-Speed dynamic radar cruise control
* * Lane tracing assist
* * Lane departure alert with steering assist
* * Intelligent high beams
* * Road sign assist
* * Blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert
Additional features available include a digital latch with safe exit assist, a digital rear view mirror, and front cross-traffic alert.
Final Statement (+)
The NX 450h+ is a great alternative to a full electric vehicle. With nearly 40 miles of electric range it is suitable for many commutes, but comes without the fear of range anxiety. Tasteful updates modernize this compact crossover both outside and in. The new infotainment system is a big step forward and is intuitive. The icing on the cake is the lengthy list of standard safety features. In a booming segment, the new NX is near the top of the list.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ Luxury
Exterior Color: Cadmium Orange
Interior Color: Black Leather
Notable Options: Advanced Park ($250), Triple Beam Headlamps ($850), 6.6kW onboard charger ($800), Premium Paint ($595), Panoramic View Monitor ($1,070), Smart Phone Convenience Package ($450), Illuminated Cargo Sill ($300), Rear Puddle Lamp ($325)
Price as tested: $61,840 (with destination charge)