2022 Lexus NX: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew NX
Since its introduction in 2014, the Lexus NX has experienced great success in the premium compact SUV segment. Now this popular model gets some major updates in both design and technology. With fresh styling inside and out, a major improvement in the multimedia system and the addition of a powerful yet efficient plug-in hybrid variant, the 2022 Lexus NX has the goods to continue its upward trend.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSetting the Standard
“The all-new Lexus NX sets a new standard in the luxury crossover market with class-leading innovations in electrified powertrains, infotainment, driving dynamics, styling and safety,” said Vinay Shahani, Lexus vice president of marketing. “The 2022 NX includes the most technological vehicle changes since we launched Lexus 32 years ago. With the all-new Lexus Interface multimedia system and a variety of customizable features, NX is an exciting first step in a series of 20 all-new or updated Lexus vehicles by 2025,” enthused Shahani.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFresh Face
Lexus continues to iterate on the large spindle grille introduced 10 years ago on the LF-Gh concept, and the latest version looks good on the new NX. The grille dominates the front end with a three-dimensional pattern providing depth and character, framing the slim LED headlights that wrap around the corners and integrate with signature L-shaped running lights.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceEasy to Identify
The tailgate of the 2022 NX no longer features the Lexus logo — instead LEXUS gets spelled out in large letters between the taillights, so there’s no mistaking the NX for anything but a member of Toyota’s premium brand. Speaking of the taillights, the rear of the NX also sports LEDs that wrap slightly around the corners of the vehicle and are connected by a light bar that stretches across the tailgate to give the NX a wide stance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The 2022 Lexus NX is available in four trim levels: NX 250, NX 350, NX 350h and NX 450h+. Depending on trim level, the NX can be upgraded to Premium, Luxury or F Sport. The NX 250 comes with front-wheel drive — all-wheel drive is available on NX 250 and standard equipment on all other variants.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLexus Safety System+ 3.0
Every NX comes with the latest Lexus suite of advanced safety features. The Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle detection; intersection turning assist; emergency steering assist; a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. Intelligent high-beam headlights, road sign assist and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control are also standard across the board.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USALexus NX 250 / NX 350 / NX 350h
Offered at a base MSRP of $37,950, the Lexus NX 250 FWD is the entry point to the NX lineup — AWD is an additional $2,000. Standard features include the new Lexus Interface system with a 9.8-inch touchscreen display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10-speaker premium audio system, a rearview monitor, roof rails and 18-inch wheels. The NX 350, priced at $41,550, adds a larger engine and all-wheel drive, while the NX 350h gets the hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive at a starting price of $41,050.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNX Premium
For an additional $3,050, the NX 250, NX 350 and NX 350h can be upgraded to the NX Premium. This adds heated and cooled front seats, rain-sensing wipers, Black Prism interior trim, a power rear hatch with kick sensor, adaptive headlights, intuitive park assist with auto braking, and rear cross-traffic alert with braking and pedestrian detection.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNX Luxury
The NX 250, NX 350 and NX 350h are also available at the Luxury level for an additional $3,100 over the Premium price on NX 250, and $4,400 over Premium for the NX 350 and NX 350h. Upgrades over the NX Premium include leather seat trim, a heated steering wheel, a power moonroof, a 10-inch head-up display, a 14-inch touchscreen display with navigation, 14-color ambient lighting and black open-pore wood trim. The NX 350h also gets 20-inch 20-spoke aluminum wheels with a silver finish.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNX 450h+
The top-level trim of the NX, the NX 450h+ is priced at $55,560. In addition to its plug-in hybrid powertrain, the 450h+ comes with everything at the Luxury trim level. The NX 450h+ has all the other features found on the standard, Premium and Luxury trim levels, and this top-line variant also gets unique 20-inch split 5-spoke alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceF Sport
The Lexus NX 350 and NX 450h+ are also available with the F-Sport package, which changes the look of the crossover via a special mesh grille pattern with a piano black finish, an F Sport front bumper and rear valence, gloss black 20-inch wheels, dark chrome and black exterior trim, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive variable suspension and performance dampers. Inside are F-Sport-exclusive perforated NuLuxe sport seats and dark graphite aluminum trim.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USANon-Hybrid Powertrains
The 2022 Lexus NX is available with a range of powertrains according to trim. The NX 250 gets a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, while the NX 350 is powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine producing 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. Both units get teamed with 8-speed automatic transmissions.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHybrid
Lexus offers the NX with two hybrid powertrain options. The NX 350h is equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine matched with two electric motors — one driving the front wheels, another at the rear. Total output for the hybrid system is 239 horsepower.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFirst Plug-In
At the top of the trim ladder is the NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid — the first plug-in hybrid in the Lexus lineup. With the same 2.5-liter gas engine used in the NX 350h, the NX 450h+ gets more powerful electric motors for a total output of 302 horsepower. Both hybrid powertrains use a continuously variable transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFuel Economy
The NX 250 has Lexus-estimated fuel-economy ratings of 26 mpg city / 33 mpg hwy / 28 mpg combined; the NX 250 AWD drops city and highway by 1 mpg. The NX 350 gets Lexus-estimated ratings of 22 mpg city / 29 mpg hwy / 25 mpg combined. The hybrid NX 350h bumps up to an impressive estimated 41 mpg city / 37 mpg hwy / 39 mpg combined, while the NX 450h+ PHEV has an estimated rating of 84 MPGe and a range of 37 miles on electric-only power.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLexus Interface
As we’ve mentioned, the NX has new exterior styling for the 2022 model year, although the biggest — perhaps even the greatest — changes have occurred on the inside. The Lexus infotainment system has been one of the most difficult to use in the industry, so we were pleased to see the 2022 NX get an all-new Lexus Interface System. This new version eliminates the trackpad of the previous version and replaces it with a large touchscreen display and new voice control.

Screen for the Driver
Although this new system is a vast improvement, it also has its issues. The new screen is angled toward the driver — great for the driver, not so great for the front passenger. In a family vehicle such as the NX, quite often the front passenger is operating the infotainment system, so it doesn’t seem logical to have a screen angled away from the right side of the vehicle. Front passengers will soon tire of the awkward reach to access the screen.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHey Lexus
One of the primary features of the new Lexus Interface System is voice control. By saying “Hey Lexus,” the system will inquire what it can do for the speaker. The NX has microphones above both driver and passenger, so the system will respond from the right or left speaker depending on who made the inquiry. Designed to converse in natural language, the system works relatively well — we told it we wanted a pastrami sandwich and it instantly brought up a list of delicatessens in the area. However, on several occasions the system did not recognize or hear the “Hey Lexus” prompt, or it misinterpreted the request. Ultimately we found it difficult to use voice commands for all interactions with the vehicle, preferring to push a button, turn a knob or touch the screen rather than to talk to the car — a personal preference.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFront Seats
We spent time in a variety NX trim levels and found the various front seats both stylish and comfortable. The sport seats in the F Sport variants offer a bit more bolstering which adds greater support, although either seating option would work well, even after several hours behind the wheel. The 2022 Lexus NX has a decent amount of space for storage between the seats, and we like the center console that opens to the right or left, making access easy for both driver and front passenger. Wireless phone charging is available; however, the tray doesn’t hold the phone in place, so phones can slip out of the charging area during spirited driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
Even though the 2022 Lexus NX is a compact crossover, the interior feels spacious. Rear-seat passengers have decent legroom and headroom, and even the middle seat offers reasonable comfortable — a statement we usually cannot make when discussing compact crossovers and SUVs. Two USB ports in the back of the center console keep devices charged for folks sitting in back.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Space
With this redesign for the 2022 model year, the NX gets 14 percent more cargo space than the previous version. The aft area has plenty of room for larger items or multiple pieces of luggage, and the rear seats can be folded flat via buttons in the cargo area to create an expansive space. The NX has additional storage space under the floor — a great option for keeping valuable cargo out of sight.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
We had the opportunity to spend time behind the wheel of the 2022 NX at a Lexus press event in Phoenix, Arizona. Although we weren’t able to test the base-level NX 250, the rest of the NX lineup feels confident on-road with commendable handling and a solid, quiet ride and little road or wind noise intrusion. Even though the NX is no sports car — nor is it trying to be — we were surprised by how well it handled on winding roads outside the Phoenix city limits.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGas vs. Hybrid
Both the NX 350 and NX 350h have similar power output, although performance is vastly different. The non-hybrid NX 350 offers decent acceleration and feels responsive — the 8-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly. The hybrid has the advantage of being able to run quietly on electric power when the load allows, although acceleration with the CVT is not very responsive thus this version feels a bit slow. So for NX shoppers it comes down to party-line priorities — better performance vs. better fuel economy. During our drive in the hybrid, the trip computer reported around 38 mpg, while the NX 350 was considerably lower.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNX 450h+ Plug-in Hybrid
As the most expensive model in the lineup, the NX 450h+ offers the best mix of fuel economy and performance. With the ability to drive up to 37 miles in electric-only mode — the typical length of a commute in America — fuel consumption is quite miserly. That said, there’s no sacrifice in performance. Even with the CVT, the more powerful hybrid system feels quick off the line and exhibits excellent brio, even with the battery depleted.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
For many luxury car owners in the U.S., Lexus is often their go-to brand, and the 2022 NX will certainly keep bringing customers into the fold. The updated design is attractive, and the new interior is both comfortable and spacious. With a choice of powertrains that now includes an efficient and powerful plug-in hybrid — and a vastly improved driver interface system — the 2022 Lexus NX continues to be a great option for luxury crossover shoppers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Attractive styling update; improved driver interface; fuel-efficient powertrains.
Cons: Display screen angled away from passenger; CVT not very responsive; interface still not as intuitive as competition.
Bottom Line: Lexus keeps the NX competitive with a stylish design, a premium interior and an improved infotainment system.

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