Introduced in 2013, the NX was the entry-level Lexus SUV, a role now relegated the compact UX. Completely redesigned for 2022, the new NX is larger than its predecessor, and adds a PHEV (plug-in hybrid) model as part of an expanded lineup. Based on the same platform as the RAV4, the NX offers more powertrain and luxury options than its Toyota sibling.
Lexus sells the 2022 NX in six variants: NX 250 ($39,500), NX 350 AWD ($43,100), NX 350 F Sport Handling AWD ($48,200), NX 350h AWD ($42,700), NX 450h+ AWD ($57,300), and NX 450h+ F Sport Handling AWD. Only the NX 250 is available in FWD (AWD optional). We tested a 2022 NX 350 F Sport AWD ($46,650) plus options: cold area package ($250), triple beam headlamps ($850), F Sport handling luxury package ($2,200), Mark Levinson audio system ($1,020), panoramic moonroof ($1,600), panoramic view monitor ($1,070), towing package ($160), and smart phone convenience package ($450). Adding the $1,075 delivery fee totaled up to $55,325. Note that Lexus has revised the option packages so that pricing and equipment may differ.
Significant standard equipment on the test vehicle include: 20-in. alloy wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, 4G Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, panoramic view camera, and adaptive variable suspension (AVS). Safety technologies such as dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot monitor, lane departure alert, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Replacing the previous 2.0L turbo is a new aluminum 2.4L turbo inline-4 with dual overhead cams, direct (D-4ST) and port fuel injection (SFI). Rated power rises to 275-hp @ 6,000 RPM and 317 lb.-ft. from 1,700-3,600 RPM. An 8-speed automatic drives a full-time AWD system. Lexus claims a 0-60 MPH time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 127 MPH (F Sport). EPA fuel consumption ratings are 22/29 MPG (city/hwy.). We averaged 24 MPG in mixed urban and highway driving.
The NX suspension uses MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar in front; double wishbones, trailing arms, dampers, coil springs and stabilizer bar comprise the rear layout. Opting for the F Sport adds an adaptive variable suspension (AVS) that enhances ride comfort and handling. Both front and rear disc brakes have vented rotors: 12.91-in. dia. (front) and 12.48-in. dia. (rear). Standard 18-in. alloy wheels can be replaced with 20-in. wheels as an option (included in Luxury and F Sport Handling packages). Standard tires are 235/60R18 and 235/50R20 Bridgestone Alenza A/S02 all-seasons are optional. A motor-assisted variable rack-and-pinion steering system is geared for 2.35 turns lock-to-lock. Curb weight is 4,035 lbs. (NX 350), and the tow rating is 2,000 lbs.
As expected from Lexus, the NX interior combines premium materials and exceptional build quality. Matte aluminum and gloss black accents contrast with the dark red and gray interior trim. Aluminum pedals are also in the F Sport package. An electronic instrument cluster consists of a tachometer and digital speedometer, flanked by coolant temperature and fuel level gauges. Fuel consumption and turbo boost can also be displayed in the configurable display. A head-up display shows essential vehicle information for the driver. The 3-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel has integrated audio, phone and instrument cluster configuration controls. Paddle shifters behind the steering wheel enable manual transmission shifts on demand. The 14-in. infotainment touchscreen displays audio, phone and vehicle settings. Climate controls have separate touch sensitive controls and dual knobs for temperature settings. Dual cupholders on the center console are located next to a stubby electronic shift lever. Two USB ports and a wireless charging pad can connect and charge mobile phones. A powertrain drive mode knob (Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Custom) is located on the center console.
Select the F Sport package and Lexus adds perforated simulated leather (NuLuxe) sport seats with additional lateral and torso bolstering. An optional Luxury Package (not available on the F Sport) includes genuine leather seating surfaces. The supportive sport seats have multiple power adjustments to accommodate most drivers, but the seats may be too narrow for larger occupants. Front and rear headroom are restricted for occupants taller than 5-10" ft. due to the optional panoramic sunroof. Rear legroom and seat comfort is adequate for two occupants, but passengers taller than 6-ft. may feel cramped. Dual USB ports and a 12V power outlet behind the center console can power portable electronic devices.
The NX ride tuning is compliant with excellent body control and damping, due to the adaptive variable suspension. As expected, the NX exhibits moderate body roll and understeer on winding roads. The electric power steering is tuned for moderate assist and communicates road conditions accurately. Braking performance is excellent, with progressive actuation. We noted that under hard braking there is significant weight transfer to the front. On the highway, the NX tracks accurately at 80-85 MPH, requiring minimal steering correction. Wind and tire noise are subdued, so the NX is an excellent companion for extended road trips.
Considering that the NX 350 weighs over two tons, the 275-hp/317 lb.-ft. from the 2.4L turbo four is essential for acceptable performance. The turbo spools up rapidly to deliver excellent low and midrange acceleration. Unlike most other large displacement inline fours, the 2.4L is exceptionally quiet and refined through most of the rev range, except at full throttle, when it gets buzzy. The 8-speed gearbox shifts seamlessly whether in automatic mode or using the steering wheel paddles. We preferred setting the powertrain in Sport mode for optimum throttle response and acceleration, but the Normal mode is acceptable for most driving.
Lexus has expanded the NX model lineup to span a wide price range and potential customer base. Of the non-hybrid NX models, we think that the NX 350 is the best overall value in the lineup, offering significantly higher power than the NX 250 AWD for only an additional $2K. Spending the extra $5K for the NX 350 F Sport is more difficult to justify, since the F Sport shares the same powertrain as the base NX 350. So although we appreciate the additional equipment that the F Sport offers, the NX 350 AWD is likely to be the favorite with Lexus customers.