Now in its second generation, the 2022 Lexus NX has transformed from one of the rare vehicles I couldn’t confidently recommend into a luxury compact crossover that’s finally competitive with the best of them.
The NX’s redesign gave the crossover a much more elegant and streamlined style. Where the previous model had a weak chin, awkward details, and an overbite, the new one received subtle tweaks to smooth out some of the rougher edges. It’s not an overly dramatic change, but the result is a smart and sophisticated-looking crossover that blends in well.
Inside, the design is stylish, and the materials used added some extra interest without being too busy. This SUV is cohesively designed inside and out.
The 2022 Lexus NX 350h is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine combined with what the brand calls a “self-charging” hybrid drive system. Total system output is 240 hp, and acceleration and passing are decently quick, with only a full stomp on the pedal resulting in a hint of a struggle and a decent amount of noise.
The NX hybrid uses an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is a better pick for efficiency than the non-hybrid’s traditional eight-speed automatic. I never really noticed it working – it just got the job done quietly in the background, which is exactly what it should do.
The hybrid crossover’s cool trick is its standard all-wheel drive system where the rear wheels are powered by a dedicated electric motor. While the rest of the hybrid system – twin electric motor-generators and a gas engine – drive the front wheels, when more traction is needed, or when reversing, the electric motor in the back sends power to the rear wheels, which gives you all-wheel drive without the penalty on fuel economy. This is a very clever solution, and the NX hybrid felt solid during a test in the winter when there was a lot of packed snow. The system reacted quickly and confidently.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The NX is comfortable and easy to drive. The steering isn’t too light, the small crossover feels nimble and easy to manoeuvre, it’s easy to park, and visibility is clear. It’s geared more towards luxury than sportiness, so it’s soft over rough roads yet remains composed and balanced in the corners.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
The 2022 Lexus NX 350h is officially rated to get 5.7 L/100 km in the city and 6.4 on the highway for a combined 6.0. After about 670 km of mixed testing, I averaged 6.8 L/100 km, which is a bit higher than expected, but still very good for an SUV of this size. With summer tires and gentler driving, it would be easy to get more efficiency from the NX hybrid.
As a hybrid, the NX uses nothing but electricity quite often when not a lot of power is needed. Coasting, idling, parking, low-speed driving, and even maintaining a highway speed are all done without any gas. After every drive, the trip computer shows you how much of your journey was done under electric power mode. One 45-minute drive saw EV mode used 47 per cent of the time, which is incredible, but other drives saw up to 60 per cent. Both figures are much higher than I expected.
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
The last-generation model’s biggest downfall was its terrible infotainment interface, which was a rare deal-breaker for me. The only way to interact with the system was via a clicky trackpad located near the gear selector that operated sort of like the ones you’d find on an older laptop. Frustrating to use while parked and impossible to operate while driving, the touchpad was finicky, erratic, and distracting enough to use that it was borderline dangerous. For this reason, I couldn’t recommend the vehicle.
But praise be: the new NX scraps that system entirely, replacing it with a large and excellent touchscreen. Not only are the graphics crisp and modern, but the touchscreen is quick to respond, and the menus are laid out in a logical manner. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available and use up all available screen real estate.
The touchscreen’s bottom third is always reserved for the climate controls, which are clear and easy to use. The touchscreen buttons are large enough that a quick glance is all you need to hit the right one, and the climate control knobs placed on the surface of the screen with the temperature reading glowing inside is a fancy look that passengers seemed to be impressed by.
I wish there were some physical shortcut buttons to toggle quickly between different infotainment features, like Android Auto and the radio, for example, but this is a drastic improvement over the previous system.
I’m not a huge fan of the overly complicated door handles, however. From the outside, users pull an electronic trigger inside the handle to open the door. From the inside, users push a trigger or pull the handle twice to exit. It confused every passenger I had to drive, and while they all got used to it after a couple times, it seems unnecessarily complicated without offering a tangible benefit.
Another small issue is that when a gear selector needs a diagram to explain how to use it, it’s a sign that it should have had a simpler design. Drivers will get used to it quickly enough, so this is just a small annoyance.
The trunk holds 643 L of cargo and 1,328 L with the 60/40-split rear seats folded flat. The rear bench had to be folded manually in my tester, but they’re light enough that it’s possible using one hand (power folding seats are optional). The crossover easily swallowed up four huge Rubbermaid storage bins and had lots of room to spare, but the liftover height of the trunk was a bit high, making it harder to load those heavy bins.
Up front, there’s a small cubby for stashing smaller items underneath the wireless charging pad and a centre console bin that opens from both the driver and passenger side.
It’s a Lexus, so if it wasn’t comfortable, that would be a big red flag. Fortunately, the NX makes it easy to find a comfortable seating position, the seats themselves are supportive over long drives, and space is accommodating, even in the back.
Drivers must subscribe to Lexus’s cloud-based navigation system to unlock its benefits, but standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are so good that it really negates the need to subscribe. This NX also comes with a voice activated Lexus Assistant that understands conversational language commands to adjust the climate controls, radio, and more. You can activate it by pressing a button on the steering wheel or by saying “Hey, Lexus” or “Hello, Lexus,” and then a command like “turn up the heat.” If you subscribe, you unlock more functionality that utilizes the internet connectivity better.
Most of the expected features are available, but many of the good ones are included in upgrade packages like ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, a head-up display, adaptive headlights, active parking assist, sunroof, and an ambient lighting system with 64 colours.
The NX 350h comes standard with Lexus’s full suite of safety and driver assistance features including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit assist, a rear seat reminder, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian/bicycle/motorcyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, road sign assist, and adaptive cruise control with lane-keep and steering assist, among other helpful features. Optional extras included with upgrade packages include lane-change assist, active evasive emergency steering, rear emergency braking, and front cross-traffic alert.
In practice, the safety systems fire off warnings in good time, but even after the danger is gone, the warning beeps are still going, which is annoying. It feels like the Lexus is always beeping at me and it’s not always great at telling you why. A deep dive in the owner’s manual is suggested.
The 2022 Lexus NX 350h starts at $49,900 plus the $2,145 destination fee. My tester had a $6,500 Luxury package I would recommend opting for, and plus all the fees, the total came to $58,645. [These figures have been updated to reflect current pricing on Lexus’ website and differ from those in the video. – Ed.] It does feel like it’s worth it, but I wish there were more features included for this price.
I love a good glow up and I’m impressed with how Lexus took this NX from awkward to excellent with this redesign. It’s finally competitive with other vehicles in its class and while it doesn’t feel as special as a Genesis GV70 or BMW X3, it’s a well-rounded luxury crossover with no deal-breakers that has a reputation for reliability on its side. Add in the fact that it’s built locally in the Cambridge, Ont., facility, and that’s a big draw for people who wish to support local manufacturing.
|Engine Cylinders||I4 hybrid|
|Peak Horsepower||240 net hp|
|Fuel Economy||5.4 / 6.4 / 6.0 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||634 / 1,328L seats down|
|Model Tested||2022 Lexus NX 350h|
|Price as Tested||$58,645|
$6,500 – Luxury Package, $6,500