The Lexus NX crossover is in its second generation, and it could be the company’s most important new vehicle since the first-generation RX debuted in 1998. The 2022 NX is built on Toyota’s latest TNGA platform and features a number of new powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid, as well as a brand-new touchscreen infotainment system.
When it comes to design, the NX is fairly forward. The regular version with vertical slats boasts one of the best implementations of Lexus’ spindle grille ever, and the base car no longer has an underbite-like lower bumper. The headlights are now one unit, and the taillights are connected by a horizontal bar, albeit there are no stylish fins like on the UX.
The NX’s surfacing is more contoured and less angular than the previous model, and it no longer has the stylish, ultra boxy rear fenders. The front fender has a great crease that kicks up to meet the pointed C-pillar, and the rear haunch has another line coming off the taillights to provide definition.
Without upsetting things up, it’s significantly sleeker and more modern than the previous model. The most noticeable alteration is at the rear, where Lexus has replaced its distinctive round symbol with a standard written-out script. This style will gradually extend across the Lexus lineup, while the spherical Lexus emblem will remain in the grille.
The F Sport package, which includes a more aggressive front bumper with a revised grille pattern, new wheel designs (including the first use of 20-inch wheels on the NX), dark chrome exterior trim, and body color wheel arches, is available as usual.
An extra F Sport Handling Package adds enhanced dampers and Lexus’ variable suspension system to turbocharged and hybrid vehicles, as well as a revised steering wheel, aluminum pedals, perforated sport seats, and other interior changes.
Thankfully, That Dreaded Touchpad Is Gone
When you enter, the revolution begins. The dreadful touchpad system has been replaced by the Lexus Interface touchscreen infotainment system, which Lexus built in-house. A 9.8-inch screen will be standard, but the massive 14-inch screen seen in these photographs will be available as an alternative. The screen is angled towards the driver and seamlessly integrated into the dash’s design, flowing into the center console.
Physical temperature controls for the automatic climate control, as well as a physical volume knob and genuine controls for the heated windshield and mirrors, are still available with the larger screen.
Navigation, media, phone, car, and settings pages symbols are always present on the left side of the screen, according to Lexus. Controls for fan speed and other climatic functions are constantly present at the bottom of the screen, while a row of buttons for extra features like seat heaters and an apps tab that can be concealed are constantly visible above that.
There’s no home screen like in other manufacturers’ systems, which is alright because the system was simple, and you don’t have to dig through several menus to find what you’re looking for. The Lexus Interface system as a whole, particularly the navigation map, looks fantastic. Everything is saved in the cloud, and the system makes use of Google data to find areas of interest and other information.
Lexus’ First Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle
At launch, Lexus will offer the NX with four powertrain options, three of which are new to the model. The NX 250 is the entry-level model in the NX lineup, with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-4 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available as an option.
Then there’s the NX 350, which has a new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, which is a 40-horsepower and 59-pound-feet increase over the previous turbocharged NX 300 model. The NX 350 also has an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD as standard.
Following that are the two hybrid models, both of which use the 2.5-liter engine. The all-wheel-drive NX 350h combines the engine with two electric motors, one of which drives the rear wheels independently, for a total of 239 hp, 45 more than the previous NX 300h. Lexus claims the NX 350h will reach 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, a second and a half faster than the previous model, and will achieve 36 mpg combined, a 6-mpg increase.
The NX 450h Plus, Lexus’ first plug-in hybrid production vehicle, is the main attraction. It shares the same powertrain as the Toyota RAV4 Prime, combining a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a larger battery pack (likely the same 18.1-kWh unit as the Prime) and two electric motors.
According to Lexus, the NX 450h Plus has 302 total horsepower and a 0-60-mph time of 6.0 seconds, matching the RAV4 in terms of power but 0.3 seconds slower to 60. Lexus claims the NX 450h Plus has a 36-mile electric range and can be fully charged in two and a half hours on a 240-volt supply using the optional 6.6-kW charger. That time is reduced to about four and a half hours when using the on-board 3.3-kW charger.
Every NX will include Lexus’ Safety System Plus 3.0 suite of safety features as standard. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, and road sign recognition are all part of the package. Oncoming vehicle detection and braking assistance are also available for left turns, as well as oncoming pedestrian detection and braking assistance for both right and left turns.
The new NX will go on sale in the third quarter of 2021, with all four powertrains available at the same time, says Lexus. Pricing won’t be revealed until closer to the launch date, but we expect the NX 250 to start from $40,085 like the current NX 300, with the turbocharged NX 350 and hybrid NX 350h each costing approximately $45,000. Before incentives, the NX 450h Plus may cost well over $50,000.