Lexus has taken popular NX to new heights for its second generation, introduced with the 2022 model.
It is now offered in four trims, and that includes the introduction of the brand’s first ever plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the NX 450h+. The NX model range has a starting price of just around $50,000 for the 250, while our 350 tester, as equipped, will cost you $67,171.70.
There are several optional packages available on the NX, and ours was fitted with the most comprehensive – and expensive – F Sport Series 3 ($9,500).
It includes a long list of items, notably drive mode select with Sport S/S+ and Custom mode, a sport tuned suspension, black painted roof rails, 20-inch F Sport Black Alloy Wheels, 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system, premium triple-beam LED headlamps, panoramic moonroof, 10-inch head-up display, power rear door with kick sensor, heated rear seats, adaptive variable suspension, digital display rear-view mirror, F Sport NuLuxe seats, advanced touch steering wheel and more.
All NX models also get the latest Lexus Safety System+ 3.0.
Powertrain: The NX lineup has a pair of engine choices, with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder found on all but the 350.
It comes with an all-new 2.4L turbo four-cylinder powerplant paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that Lexus says delivers the feel of a performance vehicle. It is a pretty good gearbox, but not sure it was quite at that level.
Driving dynamics can also be controlled via a dial on the centre stack for normal, Sport and Sport+ driving, which definitely improves the driving appeal.
The NX350 also features a new electronically controlled full-time all-wheel drive system which optimizes front and rear torque distribution according to the driving conditions.
The engine is very smooth throughout the power band as it delivers 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque.
While our tester wasn’t a hybrid powertrain, I was still happy with the fuel economy figure of 10.1 litres per 100 kilometres, not too far off the combined rating of 9.5 L/100 km.
Exterior: The NX has been redesigned inside and out for 2022, and the luxury crossover definitely lives up to that moniker.
The new styling is very attractive, including a new spindle grille and front fascia, a new full width blade-style taillight design – featuring a light bar joining the two halves – and the word Lexus spelled out on the rear hatch.
The F Sport package takes things up a notch, however, with a unique grille, as well as front and rear bumper enhancements. The tester also featured one of the exclusive F Sport colours, Redline, which matches up very well with the 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels.
The design incorporates what Lexus calls the Digital Latch for the door handles, essentially a button inside the handle that easily opens the door without the need to pull on the handle. This is matched on the inside and is a very sleek design.
Interior: The cabin of the NX350 has also been completely rethought to be more driver focused and with definite modern touches and technologies.
That starts with the door latches mentioned above but extends to other features like the advanced touch steering wheel for controls at your fingertips and the optional 10-inch HUD.
The tester was equipped with a 7-inch Multi-Information Display (MID) in the gauge cluster, as well as the optional 14-inch infotainment touch screen. The central stack still retains dial controls for functions like climate control and audio volume, while many other functions are now done through the screen, resulting in a cleaner look of the dash.
My one nit to pick about the new cabin’s layout if the very Prius-like gear selector for the transmission.
The fit and finish on the 350 with F Sport package is top notch, as are the materials. The Nuluxe seats are very comfortable and supportive, and rear occupants have a good amount of leg and headroom to work with.
Infotainment: It is hard to miss that large infotainment screen, which is bright and colourful and is angled toward the driver for ease of use.
The new interface for the infotainment system is great, but I did notice a few glitches. At least twice, my smartphone would not connect to Bluetooth or wireless Apple CarPlay, no matter what I tried. Yet mysteriously, the next time I started the car, it connected right away. And there were several times where the satellite radio also didn’t work until the next restart.
I also noticed that the wireless charging was spotty as bumps and turns would have my phone move ever so slightly, breaking the connection for power.
Minor quibbles, but still could be annoying for owners.
When you opt for the lager screen, you also get a three-year trial of Lexus’s Drive Connect services which offers location guidance with Cloud Navigation, Destination Assist and Intelligent Assistant.
The system also has a new Lexus Profile feature, which allows you to personalize settings that can even be stored in the cloud and activated via a smartphone.
Drive: The NX350 doesn’t disappoint on the road. As good as it looks, the drive is equally excellent.
Power from the turbo engine is smooth, the gear shifts are effortless, and the handling is on point.
The F Sport package has a few extra tricks up its sleeve to keep occupants comfortable, such as an active variable suspension, as well as front and rear performance dampers.
In Sport and Sport+ mode, the vehicle is definitely more fun to drive as the power and handling characteristics are dialled up.
But even in normal model, the NX350 is nothing to turn your nose up at. I really enjoyed my week with this crossover.
Conclusion: This generation of the NX model is undoubtedly better than the last. The new styling is really well done, and the cabin is a modern and welcoming environment.
The turbo powertrain on the 350 is a good option and definitely can be a sporty engine when called upon.
The NX lineup also now offers a plug-in hybrid option, and when you combine that with the sharp new looks and new technology, it will definitely grab the attention of consumers.
2022 Lexus NX 350
Price as tested: $67,171.70
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo/ 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 275 horsepower/ 317 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Premium (55 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.5 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 10.1 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Acura RDX, BMW X3, Cadillac XT4, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX50, Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
Link: Lexus Canada