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2022 Lexus NX Road Test and Review

Ron Sessions
by Ron Sessions
October 7, 2021
6 min. Reading Time
2022 Lexus NX ・  Photo by Ron Sessions

2022 Lexus NX ・ Photo by Ron Sessions

Completely redesigned this year, the 2022 Lexus NX receives some major updates to help it remain a key player in the hotly contested compact luxury SUV segment. In addition to an all-new exterior, the 2022 NX gets an all-new driver-oriented cockpit, a leading-edge infotainment system with one of the largest touchscreens in its class, new options such as a wireless device charger, panoramic sunroof, and head-up display, plus expanded advanced driver-assistance systems and four new powertrain options.

With a fast-sloping, coupe-like roofline, the new NX has a sporty profile and youthful appeal, accented by one of the more attractive iterations of the Lexus spindle grille, new high-mounted LED driving lamps, first-ever available upsized 20-inch wheels, and new full-width tail lamps. The previous generation’s sharp body-side creases give way to softer sculpted flanks. Sizewise, the NX moves to the Toyota RAV4’s 105.9-inch wheelbase and grows half an inch taller and nearly an inch longer, bumper to bumper.

The model count grows for 2022. Including the $1,075 destination charge, the lineup consists of the $39,025 NX 250, turbocharged $42,625 NX 350, $42,125 NX 350h hybrid, and $56,635 NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid. The NX250 comes standard with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD) is a $1,600 upcharge. The NX 350, NX 350h, and NX 450h+ are equipped solely with AWD.

Key NX rivals include the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT4, Infiniti QX50, Lincoln Corsair, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Volvo XC60.

Four Powertrains

Powering the base NX 250 is a 203-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder shared with the Toyota RAV4. Hooked to a new 8-speed automatic, the NX 250 can accelerate from rest to 60 mph in the low to mid-8-second range. EPA estimates for combined city/highway driving are 28 mpg for both front- and all-wheel-drive versions.

Quickening the pace in the NX 350 AWD is a new, 275-hp 2.4-liter turbo four with 317 lb-ft of torque starting at just 1700 rpm for good low- and midrange response. Mated with a new 8-speed automatic, the NX 350 can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, a half second quicker than the previous NX turbo. The combined EPA estimate is 25 mpg.

The NX 350h AWD hybrid rolls with the fourth-generation Lexus hybrid Drive with a 189-hp 2.5-liter, 2-motor transaxle and single-motor rear differential, lithium-ion battery, and electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission. With 239-hp total system power, it can hit 60 mph from rest in 7.2 seconds, 1.5 seconds quicker than the previous NX hybrid. The combined EPA estimate is 39 mpg.

The first-ever NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid arrives with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, three electric motors, AWD, and 302-hp total system output. With a big 18.1 kWh lithium-ion battery under the floor, the NX 450h+ features a 37-mile electric-only driving range and is EPA rated at 84 MPGe. It’s also the hotrod of the NX lineup, capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 in six seconds.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Cabin Considerations

The door latches are now touch-sensitive. To get in, you don’t pull on the handle; you just touch the inside of it. Getting out of the car is similar: just touch the flat pad on the door release and the door unlatches.

Overall, the cabin isn’t any larger than last year’s. But the dash center is less cluttered, and the center console much roomier with the drive mode selector moved to the dash and the infotainment system remote touchpad eliminated. And because the dash center doesn’t jut out so far now, the front passenger area doesn’t feel claustrophobic. Nice padding on the sides of the center console and door armrests alleviate hard contact with bony knees.

For 2022, there’s a new 7-inch electronic driver display with a central tachometer, digital speedometer readout, and simulated analog temperature and fuel gauges flanking the tach. It also displays statuses of driver-assistance systems, cruise control, observed speed limit signs, gear selected, audio entertainment, current time, outside temperature, drive mode selected, turbocharger boost (turbo models only), trip information, range, fuel economy, and more.

Sporting nature themes such as Rain Forest, Sunset, and Waterfall, an optional 14-color ambient lighting program can bathe the luxurious cabin in soothing hues.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Hey, Lexus!

The most noteworthy change for 2022 is the introduction of the all-new Lexus Interface. Gone is last year’s clunky and space-robbing remote touch interface on the console and Lexus finally put a fork in the old dash-mounted CD player. In its place is a new infotainment system with a prominently placed standard 9.8-inch or optional 14-inch touchscreen with full HD resolution. The larger screen also incorporates climate control functions. An analog rotary volume knob is retained, but most other functions are accomplished digitally, using the center screen. On the left part of the screen are shortcut virtual buttons for navigation, music, phone, vehicle, and other settings.

Two phones can be paired simultaneously. Lexus Interface comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Navigation is 100% cloud-based and Lexus partnered with Google for populating and maintaining points of interest.

The biggest change is the use of standard Voice Assistant hands-free voice control. After pressing the steering-wheel voice-control button or just saying “Hey, Lexus,” the driver and front passenger can use common speech to access media, personal contacts, climate control, seat, and other functions. With an upgrade to the optional Intelligent Assistant, capabilities expand to include such things as weather, points of interest, and address searches. The ability to stream Amazon and Apple music is directly integrated and uses your own 4G plan. Lexus Interface can also store user profiles in the cloud. Over-the-air updates keep the system continuously updated.

A 10-speaker, 296-watt, 8-channel audio system is standard, and a Mark Levinson 17-speaker, 1,800-watt, 12-channel surround sound system is optional.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Thoughtful Details

The 2022 Lexus NX is available with a wealth of helpful and thoughtful tech. For the first time, the NX can be equipped with a wireless phone charger that, when not in use, slides out of the way to reveal a deep storage bin at the front of console.

An optional digital rearview mirror allows the driver to see what’s behind the NX without having to bob around the heads or head restraints of rear-seat passengers by using the high-resolution feed from rear-mounted backup camera.

A new digital key that works with both Android and Apple phones enables the driver and any designated friends or family members to use their smartphone as a virtual key to lock and unlock the car,and even start or stop the engine.

For the first time, the NX is available with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, replacing the front-only sunroof previously available and giving rear seat passengers the opportunity to scan the heavens.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Sitting Up Front

The driver and front passenger get treated to form-hugging front bucket seats with thigh and lower torso support where you want it, but also with plenty of compliant foam for comfort. There are no hard wires or hotspots digging into your posterior parts. The front seats have power adjustments and standard heated cushions. Ventilated front cushions are also available. NuLuxe synthetic material seat coverings are standard with most trims with leather upgrades available in higher trims. Interior trim includes several striking two-tone color combinations, including Rich Cream and black (pictured above), Rioja Red and black, and Palomino Tan and black.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Back Seat

The new NX is not one of those small suvs with a cramped rear seat. There is room for two adults, or three for short distances. The outboard passengers sit in form-hugging sculpted pockets and legroom is decent. The back-seat passengers also get climate control vents, two USB-C ports, a 12-volt outlet, and on models so equipped, rear seat heater controls for the outboard cushions. The rear seatbacks are split 60/40 to allow room for a mix of people and bulkier cargo. There is also a fold-down center armrest and dual cup holders.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Cargo-Carrying Capacity

Compared to last year’s NX, cargo space increases nearly 14 percent behind the rear seats to 22.7 cubic feet, which can amply handle five passengers and their roller bags on a run to the airport. The rear seats don’t fold totally flat, but with them lowered, there’s 46.9 cubic feet of space. That’s not the best in the segment, but it's still more than enough to handle the active-lifestyle needs of many owners. More storage space for small items such as a camera, tablet, or purse is located under the cargo floor where the spare tire would normally go. The NX does not have a spare tire and uses more-expensive run-flat tires that have a hard inner tire that allows the SUV to run 50 or so miles at reduced speed instead. Newly available for the cargo area is a pet divider.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Driving Dynamics

Now built on the Global Architecture-K platform, the 2022 NX features MacPherson strut front/trailing-arm double-wishbone independent suspension, large-diameter vented 4-wheel disc brakes, and electrically boosted power steering. Wheel choices are upgraded this year to 18- or 20-inch alloys.

All-wheel drive is optional on the otherwise front-drive NX 250 and standard on all other NX models. In all cases, the system defaults to front-wheel drive when good traction is available and can send up to 50% of the drive torque to the rear wheels as needed to maintain traction. In the NX 250, drive torque is sent to the rear wheels as needed via a mechanical driveshaft. With the NX hybrid and plug-in hybrid, the rear wheels are driven directly by a separate electric motor, again only as needed to aid traction.

With the F Sport package available with NX 350 or NX 450h+ trims, driving precision is further aided by adaptive shock absorbers that adjust wheel damping individually in real time, performance chassis dampers, and wider 235/50R20 all-season tires.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

Safety and Driver-Assistive Tech

With the 2022 NX, Lexus doubles down on its extensive roster of advanced driving-assistance tech with the new Lexus Safety Connect 3.0. This suite of systems includes everything previously contained in Lexus Safety Connect 2.0, such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring, intelligent high beams, lane-departure alert with steering assist, road-sign assist, and a pre-collision system that warns of a potential frontal collision, detects vehicles, daytime bicyclists, and pedestrians, and automatically applies the brakes if the driver does not.

The new Lexus Safety System 3.0 expands coverage to include map-based curve speed management with the adaptive cruise control, risk-avoidance steering assist within the lane to avoid obstacles such as truck tire treads, and detection and braking for pedestrians and vehicles encountered when turning or oncoming cross traffic vehicles turning in the NX’s path at an intersection.

A new safe exit/door-opening feature uses the existing rear blind-spot sensors to check for vehicular traffic or bicyclists approaching from the rear that may prove a hazard. It works with all four doors when the NX is in Park.

A panoramic rearview monitor is included as well.

An available color 10-inch head-up display gives info such as current speed, posted speed limit, navigation directions, gear selected, current drive mode, and compass at the bottom of the windshield in the driver’s line of sight.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions

All-New, Road to Roof

First introduced for the 2015 model year, the stylish and nimble 5-passenger NX plays an important role as one of the least expensive Lexus offerings, attracting younger buyers to the brand who may be moving up from mainstream, non-luxury models.

The 2022 model brings significant advances in infotainment, connectivity and driver-assistive technology. A wide model lineup spans naturally aspirated and turbocharged gas models as well as two with a gas-electric drivetrain including the NX’s first-ever plug-in hybrid.

In 2020, the NX was the second best-selling Lexus in the luxury brand’s model lineup. It goes on sale in early December 2021.

 Photo by Ron Sessions

Photo by Ron Sessions


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