Streamlined Styling for a Next Generation Hybrid
Lexus has an all-new NX coming next year
Lexus isn’t standing still with its popular NX line of compact crossovers, which debuted in 2014. The all-new 2022 NX will come in four models, with two gasoline, one hybrid and one plug-in hybrid powertrain choices, two transmissions, and either front- or all-wheel drive.
To spice-up things a bit, two of the 2022 NX models are offered with the F Sport treatment, for additional styling and enhanced performance.
The full 2022 Lexus NX line-up offers a wide choice of options.
Front wheel drive (FWD)
2.5 liter gasoline engine
All-wheel drive (AWD)
2.5 liter gasoline engine
Turbocharged 2.4 liter gasoline engine
Adding a plug to the popular hybrid
Lexus Hybrid Drive
2.5 liter + electric motor
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Lexus Hybrid Drive
2.5 liter + twin electric motors
This Flash Drive will concentrate on the two hybrids of the four models. Clean Fleet Report recently had some brief time behind the wheel of the all-wheel drive NX 350h and NX 450h+, which was enough seat time to get a feel for their driving attributes. We will do full Road Test reviews on each vehicle when we have them for a week or longer.
NX 350h AWD
The NX 350h’s hybrid system ran smooth and quiet, with a slight low roar under heavy acceleration as the gasoline engine kicked-in. Lexus says 0-60 mph can be pulled-off in 7.2 seconds, which is 1.5 seconds faster than the outgoing NX 350 hybrid model. In our short acceleration tests we noticed the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) errs on the side of smoothness and efficiency, which is just fine as it is exactly what owners of the 350h will be looking for.
The EPA has rated the NX 350h at 41 mpg city/37 highway/39 combined, which are excellent fuel economy numbers. Clean Fleet Report is certain owners will easily exceed the EPA rating, as we have on all Lexus hybrid vehicles we have reviewed over the past several years.
The NX 350h, with the batteries placed below the seats, has a smooth, stable highway ride, with the electric assisted power steering providing good road feel and feedback. The MacPherson struts up front, a double wishbone rear suspension, with stabilizer bars all the way around, made the NX 350h pleasant and confident to drive. The NX had minimal body leans sweeping corners at 55-65 mph as the AWD kept handling manageable and predictable.
NX 450h+ AWD
Let the sun shine in
The “h+” indicates this NX is a plug-in hybrid (Lexus’ first), which offers some delicious benefits. Clean Fleet Report reviewed the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Prime that shares its plug-in hybrid technology with the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+. The 2.5L inline four-cylinder, non-turbocharged gasoline engine gets the power to all four wheels via an electronically-controlled CVT with paddle shifters. Lexus pegs the 0 – 60 time at 6.0 seconds, which is what we got in a couple off-the-line acceleration runs. With the towing package, the Lexus 450h+ is rated to tow up-to 2,000 pounds, where the battery-supplied torque will make easy work when towing a boat or camper up a grade.
The Lexus NX 450h+ is rated at 37 miles per gallon when running in hybrid mode after an impressive 36 miles of all-electric driving range. EPA rates the 450h+ at 84 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent). MPGe is a measurement of how far a car can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as is contained in 1 gallon of gasoline. With the 14.5-gallon fuel tank, utilizing the electric drive range as much as possible, and mastering the art of regenerative braking, it is possible to get close to 600 miles of driving range. That is San Diego to San Francisco, with about 100 miles of range remaining.
The 2022 NX 450h+ has these plug-in charge times.
120V Level 1 12.3 hours
240V Level 2 4.5 hours
Of the two NX models, we give a nod to the road presence of the NX 450h+, which had the F Sport package. It may have been the added weight, 400 pounds more than the NX 350h (mostly batteries we suspect), or the enhanced driving dynamics from the active variable tuned suspension, and the 20-inch 235/50 Bridgestone run-flat tires, but the NX 450h+ F Sport was very impressive.
The NX 300h and 450h+ have a new exterior design that is softer, smoother, more shapely, and even more streamlined, foregoing the sharp angles from the outgoing model. A good term is flow, as in from front to rear there is a noticeable cohesive flow between the transition from the hood to the roof, the sides and the rear tailgate. The F Sport package takes the already new design to another level with bespoke grilles, front and rear bumpers, unique 10-spoke 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, color-keyed over fenders, and special colors that include Ultra White, Obsidian, and Ultrasonic Blue 2.0.
New look in back
The 2022 design on both models begins with a new front end featuring daytime running lights that now sit above the LED headlights. Look for the distinctive “L” shape that identifies a Lexus when coming down the road. The corner vents on the outer edges of the fascia are fully functional, and include fog lights on the F Sport. The signature Lexus grille is fully functional, and on the F Sport, chrome has been left back at the factory favoring the sleek-looking gloss black finish. There is a sliver of bright chrome on the F Sport residing on the outside mirrors. But Lexus stayed away from the shiny stuff and went with smoked chrome to trim the windows.
The clean and smooth hood sweeps up-to the laid-back windshield onto a rail-equipped roof. The subtle F Sport badges on the front fenders don’t scream performance and luxury. New for the 2022 NX are the color-keyed door handles that don’t pull-out to open the doors. Instead, inside the handle is a digital button that releases the door, and in you go. Locking and unlocking is also by touching the handle, or using the key fob.
It all ends with a small built-in spoiler over the rear hatch glass. Oddly and a bit of contention by Clean Fleet Report, is why the window wiper was not hidden under the spoiler. We are seeing this on other brands and the look cleans-up the rear end of a SUV. The abrupt shelf-like rear end from year’s past, have thankfully been replaced with a much softer design where the LED tail lights continue the L-shape signature, but are now connected by a LED strip across the complete lift gate. Gone is the Lexus “L” badge, replaced by the letters L-E-X-U-S prominently displayed above the license plate and a small “NX 450h+ AWD” badge.
We don’t have the coefficient of drag yet, but expect it to be a low number as Lexus designers have made the NX 350h and 450h+ to slip through the wind.
A new and very valuable feature on the NX 450h+ is the EV Hold Charge button, which allows the battery to be charged while driving, then saving that charge for a later time.
Lexus sedans and SUVs have always received high marks for their interiors, but the designers for the 2022 NX have opened their tool box, with good results. Clean Fleet Report will dig deeper on the technology changes and improvements when we do a Road Test review sometime in 2022, but the top line for now is the NX 350h and 450h+ interiors, on all the trim levels of Premium, Luxury and F Sport, are comfortable with quality materials and excellent fit and finish.
More real estate for technology
No faux carbon fiber anywhere in the interior, but there is plenty of leather with top stitching, and more soft than hard surfaces. Some models have an attractive dark graphite aluminum and piano black trim with black open pore wood accents. The 14-theme ambient lighting added a soothing touch. Seat color choices are either solid or two-toned. Opening the doors from the inside has a twist, as they did from the outside. To get out, you lightly push on the handle, not pull it. Digital touch technology is a theme with the all-new 2022 NX, and shows-up elsewhere than the doors. The door pockets will be too tight for larger drink bottles and cups, but the deep padded center armrest opens both ways for convenient driver and passenger access.
There was no challenge finding a comfortable seating position with the power tilt and telescopic steering column for the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel which had convenient audio and telephone controls. There are multiple cup holders throughout the cabin, but as noted earlier the door pockets can at most handle a small water bottle. The dash layout is simple with straight-forward gauges and controls, with easy-to-read white letters and numbers. Many current Lexus models have the Drive Mode selector high on the instrument cluster hood. For the 2022 NX, Lexus has placed that selector lower on the dash making it easier to opt for Eco, Normal, and Sport, and then a separate button for EV.
The supportive seats are power adjustable, ventilated and heated for the driver and passenger, and come covered in leather on all trim levels other than the F Sport, which gets NuLuxe, a man-made synthetic leather. The NX 350h and 450h+ can seat five with ample rear head and leg room, but two adults in the rear would be more comfortable for long distances.
Cargo storage is increased to 22.7 cubic feet with the rear seat up, and with the 60/40 rear seat folded flat it increases to 46.9 cubic feet. Access to the cargo area, which has tie downs, lights, a 12-volt outlet, a storage nook with a security net and under-floor compartments, is through a power lift gate that has a kick sensor. The convenient low lift-over load height has a plate to protect it when sliding items in and out of the rear.
Technology and the Human Machine Interface
Lexus is all-in regarding technology, with its systems including Drive Connect, Intelligent Assistant, Destination Assist, Voice Assist, User Profile, Digital Key, Remote Connect, OTA Updates and Lexus Interface. For now, let’s take a look at their all-new multimedia infotainment system.
Touch pad’s gone (boo-hoo)
The standard 9.8-inch, and optional 14-inch touchscreens integrate through an intuitive human machine interface that uses sight, touch and voice for commanding the audio, telephone, navigation and other features. There is wireless mobile phone charging, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto and seamless voice activation for multiple commands, including making telephone calls, that all worked well. The biggest change for Lexus is the sometimes confounding infotainment control pad is gone, and it being so will not bring a tear to anyone.
The 14-inch color display graphics were clear and crisp, making it easy to surf through the different systems to configure your NX exactly how you like. This display handled navigation, backup camera and audio for the base 10-speaker Lexus Premium sound system, including SiriusXM, AM/FM/HD cache radio. The audio bundle includes a wide array of features through the Lexus Enform app suite that includes a 3GB AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot that can handle up to five devises (offered for a one-month trial period). Clean Fleet Report would have liked to see a channel selector knob join the volume knob, as this duo make for the easiest way to use the radio. This all new infotainment system and interface is debuting on the 2022 NX. It is so good expect it to be on all Lexus models soon.
If you love music, and might considered yourself to be an audiophile, then step-up to the optional Mark Levinson surround sound system with 1,800 watts, 17-speakers and an under-deck-mounted 10-inch subwoofer. It sounds great!
Other nice interior features are one-touch power windows and door locks, power and heated outside mirrors with driver-side memory, dual zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, power panoramic moonroof, tonneau cover, rearview camera mirror and aluminum pedals. The highly configurable color 10-inch head-up display was among the best we have tested, using touch sensitive controls on the steering wheel to change the information being projected onto the windshield.
Safety and Convenience
The 2022 NX comes with safety and convenience technology via the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. Features include eight air bags, remote keyless entry, theft deterrent system, tire pressure monitoring system, stability assist and traction control. Standard and optional safety systems include pre-collision braking, intuitive parking assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure alert and adaptive cruise control. The Lexus Enform Safety Connect allows for emergency help to be summoned with the push of a button.
The 2022 NX lineup is priced like this (all base prices include the $1,075 delivery processing and handling fee.
NX 250 FWD (gasoline engine)
The name of the game for 2022 is choice
NX 250 AWD (gasoline engine)
NX 350 AWD (gasoline engine)
F Sport $46,755
F Sport Luxury $51,025
NX 350h AWD (hybrid system)
NX 450h+ AWD (plug-in hybrid system)
F Sport Luxury $57,975
Looking for the old and new owners
Observations: 2022 Lexus NX
Lexus says the next chapter for the NX is centered around design, driving signature, electrification and advanced technology. Clean Fleet Report’s brief introduction to the all-new 2022 NX has convinced us Lexus has hit all four of these goals for vehicle development. Debuting in 2014 and refreshed in 2018, the NX was ready for that next chapter. The NX is the number two selling Lexus model, just behind the RX SUV, and it almost out-sells all of the Lexus sedans combined.
Comfortable, fuel efficient, with a solid feel and new distinctive styling make the 2022 Lexus NX line-up better than ever. Add-in the impressive F Sport models and the NX may just be the best compact premium SUV.
The 2022 NX improvements and changes will be appreciated by loyal NX owners, but what about the next generation of drivers that have never driven a Lexus, or even considered owning one? Lexus tells us they will be targeting a younger audience, beginning in January 2022, with a message of quality, style, performance and luxury that it hopes will have them visit a Lexus dealer for the first time.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Lexus.
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