Lexus NX: solid entry for hybrid seekers
You might not be able to tell by looking at it, but the NX is listed by Lexus as an “all-new” model for 2022. That doesn’t mean it’s all that different from the 2021 version, because it doesn’t. clearly does not. . But all things considered, the description is generally correct.
Among the quintet of large wagons (aka utility vehicles and crossovers) from the premium brand Toyota, the NX sits between the smaller UX and the larger mid-size RX. The even larger GX and LX complete the group.
Each of the five shows Lexus’ ubiquitous spindle-shaped grille, with the NX version being more dominant than before. Lexus also reshaped the body panels, added a greater degree of rake (a steeper angle) to the windshield to improve aerodynamics, and also raised the rear roofline.
This could explain why cargo capacity behind the rear has increased by more than 25%, even though the total storage volume with the rear seats folded down has actually decreased by around 15%. There’s also a bit more legroom in the back.
Dimensionally, the old and new NXs vary only slightly. Note that the NX uses the same architecture as the Toyota RAV4 and is similar in size to that model.
The updated instrument cluster includes a 7-inch high-definition screen for the driver and an optional 9.8-inch or 14-inch touchscreen for the infotainment, climate control and navigation systems. The shift lever has also been replaced with a less intrusive rocker lever.
For 2022, there are four NX models, up from two, each with its own powertrain. The base NX 250 comes with front-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is optional for the NX 250, but fare standard for the NX 350, which gets a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft.
The NX 350h hybrid develops 239 horsepower thanks to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder assisted by front and rear electric motors. The top-level NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid also uses the 2.5, but the power jumps to 302 horsepower. Lexus claims a maximum range of 36 miles on battery alone.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is linked to the NX 250 and NX 350. A continuously variable unit gets the call for both hybrids.
According to Lexus, the plug-in can accelerate to 60 mph from rest in six seconds, which is 1.2 seconds faster than the NX 350h. As you’d expect, the NX 350 is the quickest of the petrol models at 6.6 seconds.
The NX 250 earns 28 mpg for combined city/highway driving, while the NX 350h is rated at 39 mpg combined. On electric power, the NX 450h+ earns the equivalent of 84 mpg combined.
The front-drive NX 250 starts at $39,000 including destination charges. All-wheel drive adds $1,600. Base equipment includes a 9.8-inch touchscreen, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a 10-speaker audio system and 18-inch wheels. Also standard is a navigation system that can provide live map updates.
Active safety highlights include blind spot warning with reverse cross-traffic alert, automatic collision avoidance/braking, and pedestrian detection/braking when turning right.
Depending on the model, additional content includes a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, wireless phone charging, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio package, heated rear seats and ambient interior lighting with 64 color choices .
Among the option packs, the F Sport is available for the NX 350 and NX 450+. It features continuously variable suspension with performance shocks, well-bolstered sports seats, a distinctive grille and 20-inch gloss black wheels. There’s no extra power, though.
The Lexus NX series is part of a group that includes the BMW X1 and X2, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and GLB Class, the Acura RDX and the Cadillac XT4. But with a host of available performance and content variations, the NX offers a much wider range of customization than any of its direct competitors. This fact alone makes it worthy of consideration.
What could really tip the scales is the perception that hybrid powertrains are making the NX more advanced and also more fuel-efficient at the pumps as fuel prices continue to climb.