Tech reviews

Lexus’ Small SUV Gets Modern Tech


If you’re going to succeed in today’s competitive luxury SUV segment, you have to leverage the latest technology. And not just in-car tech, or connected tech, or chassis tech, or drivetrain tech. You need all four working in harmony if you plan to grow, or even maintain, market share. The all-new 2022 Lexus NX did its best to maximize each of these technology disciplines during the SUV’s redesign. That’s good, because the Lexus NX is already the best-selling vehicle in the entry-luxury SUV segment, and the second-best selling vehicle in Lexus’ model line. It has much further to fall than rise if this redesign falls short.

After driving the new NX and experiencing its across-the-board improvements we know the redesign didn’t fall short. In fact, it addressed the outgoing NX’s biggest flaws while elevating its strengths. Lexus is looking to attract younger, more affluent, more diverse buyers to the brand, and the automaker knows a portion of this group has rejected Lexus in the past due to its lack of advanced in-car tech and limited electrification/hybrid options. The 2022 NX focuses on those areas, along with an updated exterior design and improved driving dynamics.

How Does the 2022 Lexus NX Drive?

There’s a term, dubbed “Lexus Driving Signature” that was identified a few years ago, and is described as a global standard for performance driving across the entire Lexus model line. The goal is to improve driving confidence, as defined by Koji Sato, the Lexus International President and former chief engineer, and it’s the guiding principle as new vehicles are developed. We’ve experienced an undeniable uptick in dynamic response, driver engagement and overall confidence delivered by new or updated Lexus models over the past few years, so it’s not just marketing hype. The 2022 NX follows suit, providing more feedback through the steering wheel, less lean in corners and crisper, more linear throttle and brake control.

How Much Does the 2022 Lexus NX Cost?

The base Lexus NX 250 costs $37,950. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four cylinder with 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with an all-new 8-speed automatic, replacing last year’s 6-speed auto, and can be had in front- or all-wheel drive. Lexus claims a zero-to-60 time of 8.2 seconds on front-wheel-drive models, or 8.6 seconds on all-wheel-drive NXs. Those figures sound right based on our driving experience, with the NX250 proving adequate, but not thrilling, in terms of acceleration. Additional base equipment includes a 9.8-inch central touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a drive mode selector with Normal, Eco, and Sport modes, a 4G WiFi hotspot, and a 10-speaker audio system.

Stepping up the $41,550 NX 350 gets buyers a turbocharged 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine paired to that same new 8-speed automatic, plus standard all-wheel drive. Horsepower increases to 275 hp, and torque rises to 317 pound-feet. This model delivers a claimed 6.6-second zero-to-60 time. Perhaps more exciting than quicker acceleration is the available NX 350 “F Sport” version, which adds unique exterior trim, a sport tuned suspension with adaptive variable technology, 20-inch dark chrome alloy wheels (replacing the standard 18-inch wheels), unique interior trim, a 10-inch head up display, and an upgraded 14-inch high-resolution central touchscreen. Putting the NX 350 F Sport in “Sport S+” mode delivers a genuinely sporty driving experience, and would be our choice. But there are two more NX models to discuss…

A hybrid version of the Lexus NX returns for 2022 as the $41,050 NX 350h. It starts with the same naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter found in the NX 250, but adds a continuously variable transmission (CVT), dual electric motors (one for each axle), and a 259-volt lithium-ion battery pack. Total power output is 239 hp, with a zero-to-60 time of 7.2 seconds. Joining the hybrid for 2022 is the NX’s first plug-in hybrid, dubbed the NX 450h+. This model costs $55,560 and supplements the 350h’s drivetrain with a 355.2-volt lithium-ion battery and the ability to run on pure electricity for 37 miles. It accelerates to 60 mph in a swift 6.0 seconds, and nets an 84 MPGe rating. It also includes nearly every high-tech and luxury feature, like 20-inch wheels, heated and ventilated seats, and black open-pore wood trim.

What Technology Does the new 2022 Lexus NX Offer?

The most dramatic, and celebrated, improvements to the all new Lexus NX come in the form of user controls and technology upgrades. Lexus has long employed a center-console-mounted touchpad/mouse interface for its infotainment control system. And it never worked — at least not as well as nearly every competitor’s. Well, raise your touchpad-tired fingers and rejoice! The 2022 Lexus NX uses a large, high resolution central touchscreen as its primary interface. And just like every other system that uses this approach, it works extremely well. Perpetual icons on the left side of the screen allow for quick access to phone, navigation and audio controls, while dedicated buttons and dials below the screen operate the dual-zone automatic climate control system.

The list of technology upgrades doesn’t end with this vastly-improved interface. The new NX offers more sophisticated voice controls, cloud-based and google-powered navigation, a digital-release door latch, a smartphone-based digital key, Apple Music and Amazon Music streaming services, and cloud-based user profiles that adjust settings as you approach the vehicle. We also liked the new touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel spokes and the digital rearview mirror that eliminates all obstructions to rear visibility. Finally, if you’re an audiophile, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson system is on the option list.

Which Version of the Lexus NX Should I Buy?

As mentioned above, we’re fans of the NX 350 F Sport, as the $46,650 price provides an effective balance of features and value. The exterior and interior enhancements, the more sophisticated adaptive suspension, plus the larger 14-inch touchscreen and 10-inch head-up display, bring the best of the new NX’s driving dynamics and technology to the party. But the increased fuel efficiency of the NX 350h (47 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined) makes a strong argument, as does the NX 450h+ and its 37-mile, all-electric range. If you’re going hybrid, we’d go with the $44,100 350h in “Premium” trim, which adds a power rear hatch with kick sensor, adaptive headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof.

The good news is, with so many models and trims to choose from there’s going to be a new Lexus NX for nearly every compact luxury SUV shopper. Which is precisely the updated market opportunities this model needed.



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