Lexus NX 350h 2022 Review

The Lexus NX was a flawed SUV from the start. We couldn't recommend it over more polished and better packaged examples like the BMW X3 and Acura RDX because of its cramped interior, infuriating infotainment system, and lackluster powertrains. However, with the new second-generation NX, Lexus has addressed the majority of our concerns. We wouldn't be surprised if NX sales quickly catch up to the popular RX, thanks to combustion, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains, handsome new looks, and a heavily updated interior.

The new Lexus NX for 2022 has taken on a more mature appearance. We like the 'LEXUS' script on the trunk lid, and the rear lights are especially distinctive, linked together by an LED light bar that seems to be the norm on every SUV these days. But it's the interior that steals the show, and it's a significant upgrade over the previous model.

With bolder centerpieces and an airiness to the cabin, there's less visual drama this time around. The cabin of the current-generation Lexus IS is no longer cramped and overly complicated for those who have forgotten what that looked like.

The leather is well-stitched, and the construction is superior. But it's the infotainment system that gets the most attention. The clumsy haptic trackpad has been replaced by a massive touchscreen with a more fluid and user-friendly interface. When you want to enter a command, you don't have to guess; everything is clearly labeled and arranged erognomically. For those who prefer a more familiar interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available.

The volume and heating controls, two of the most frequently used functions, were kept as real dials by Lexus, rather than the touch slider nonsense used by the Volkswagen Golf and BMW iX. Real button controls are embedded into the spokes of the steering wheel, ensuring a quick learning curve and seamless integration for Lexus newcomers.

The NX cabin details deserve their own paragraph. The new gear shifter, which debuted in the LC 500 Coupe, is a joy to operate. Every time you put it in drive, it feels substantial and adds to the sense of occasion. Furthermore, the layout of the steering wheel and door panels harkens back to the opulent LS 500 Sedan, and the electric door handles, which open at the touch of a button, save space and reduce operating effort. Even the drive mode dial is strategically placed for easy access and stands out prominently as if it were meant to be pushed.

The NX is available in four different configurations. The NX 250 and NX 350 have traditional four-cylinder combustion engines, the NX 450h+ is a plug-in hybrid that can run on electricity alone for up to 60 kilometers, and the NX 350h, which we tested, has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder mated to a hybrid system with 240 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and a CVT transmission. That's 45 more horses than the previous NX hybrid and 20 more horses than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

The transition between gas and electric propulsion is smooth and seamless, as it is with every Toyota and Lexus hybrid, but the engine wakes up a little rough on the ears and lacks sufficient low-end torque to inspire overtaking confidence. The CVT transmission is the weakest link; non-hybrid models have an 8-speed automatic transmission that is more refined and quieter. It's brash at high RPMs (not that you'd want to go there), vibrates the gas pedal under heavy loads, and lets out an unflattering wail if not properly warmed up.

The NX 350h lacks the athleticism and driver involvement that its more well-rounded competitors boast about. Yes, the hybrid NX 350h weighs 40 kilograms more than the non-hybrid NX 350, but it feels significantly less capable as a result. The NX rides on the same chassis as the planted and solid Toyota RAV4, but it doesn't turn with the same vigour. Instead, the NX 350h prefers a more relaxed drive down the highway, where drivers can benefit from its stable and competent ride, and where drivers can take pride in low fuel consumption numbers rather than laptimes. Not that we're surprised; after all, those who prefer winding around a twisty road would choose a BMW X3 or an Alfa Romeo Stelvio. On the plus side, the 6.7 L/100km average we achieved over a mix of city and highway driving was impressive, and unlike some other premium hybrids like the MINI and BMW, the NX hybrid only requires 87-octane fuel.

What is the most important takeaway? Avoid the hybrid and instead opt for the NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid. It's more refined, more efficient, and even though it's more expensive, it feels like it's worth the extra money. Alternatively, the non-hybrid NX 350 is more lively and polished. Regardless of which path you take, the NX has come a long way in its second generation, and it has clearly impressed us with its clean interior, improved ergonomics, and a genuinely usable infotainment system.

Specifications:

  • Model: 2022 Lexus NX 350h Luxury
  • Paint Type: Cloudburst Grey
  • Base Price: $49,900
  • Price as Tested: $56,900
  • Wheelbase(mm): 2,690
  • Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,660 / 1,865 / 1,640
  • Curb weight (kg): 1,800
  • Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder with hybrid system
  • Horsepower: 240 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 176 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
  • Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 5.7 / 6.4
  • Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 6.7
  • Tires: P235/50R20

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