The 2022 Lexus NX is directly a protected evolution of the product it replaces and a big redesign with long-lasting implications. Its dimensions and styling are so just like the outgoing NX that you simply’d be forgiven for pondering it is merely a mid-cycle refresh, however certainly, it is a ground-up re-do primarily based on new underpinnings. Positive, they’re shared with each front-wheel-drive Toyota group product launched up to now 4 years, however then, that is a part of the “protected evolution” bit. 

Now, there’s nothing inherently improper with such an method to a brand new mannequin. Though the NX has by no means been thought of a category chief because it was launched for 2015, it however loved robust gross sales – you understand, similar to the Lexus ES, RX and name-a-Toyota – automobiles that automobile lovers would possibly scoff at however everybody else appreciates for his or her construct high quality, dependability, resale worth and normal competence. 

Though, if we’re speaking competence, it is at the very least price stating one factor of the Lexus formulation that every one these loyal consumers have by some means been placing up with: the Distant Contact tech interface and the infernal touchpad that is been in use, with a couple of exceptions, in each Lexus because it debuted in … that is proper, the unique NX. And this is the place the long-lasting implications of the all-new 2022 NX are available in: Distant Contact is gone and as a substitute the brand new “Human Machine Interface” touchscreen infotainment system will probably be making its approach by way of the model. This can be a very huge deal, as a result of it means a really actual and annoying motive for not shopping for a Lexus is about to go away … and is not current in any respect within the new NX. 

That stated, the brand new touchscreen not solely represents a very powerful change and enchancment to the NX, however probably the most important missed alternative. We’ll cowl that in-depth in a followup infotainment assessment, however in brief, the system thinks too extremely of voice instructions and will actually use the flexibility to indicate a number of sources of data directly. In any other case, the 2 accessible touchscreens (a base 9.6-inch unit and a 14-inch widescreen improve) characteristic a UI that is faster, prettier and simpler to make use of. I used to be capable of soar into the brand new NX and rapidly determine all of it out, which undoubtedly cannot be stated of different luxurious programs that proceed to perplex after a number of makes use of, together with Mercedes’ MBUX and Distant Contact.

These trims with the 14-inch display screen additionally pair with a singular set of steering wheel buttons. They’re unmarked – their performance is indicated by pop-ups within the also-included head-up show. This can be a novel concept, however it’s kind of complicated, and when you’ve got polarized sun shades that wipe out a HUD, good luck. 

Like the brand new touchscreen, that HUD-steering wheel combo is certain to unfold all through the Lexus household, however that is not all. The switchgear is new, together with the drive mode selector, Prius-like digital shifter and strange digital door openers, whereas the general design aesthetic is a big departure for the model. It is extra driver-focused, nevertheless it’s additionally much less distinctive than an IS, for example, and the plain expanse of black sprint on the passenger aspect is a bit 1998. Supplies and construct high quality stays as much as the standard excessive Lexus commonplace.

When it comes to area, the 2022 NX is just about equivalent to the compact SUV it replaces. There aren’t any considerable positive aspects in exterior dimensions or passenger area, although cargo room will increase by 5 cubic-feet. The NX due to this fact stays the smallest compact luxurious SUV, and though its exterior dimensions considerably exceed subcompacts just like the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA, its inside dimensions are literally fairly related. 

Like each new Toyota/Lexus on the TNG platform, the brand new NX enjoys substantial enhancements to its reflexes and refinement. Briefly, it is a lot better to drive, however nonetheless not that nice to drive. The suspension is extra managed, but the journey high quality is improved. The steering is slightly bit lighter at decrease speeds (at the very least in Regular mode), nevertheless it’s extra exact, communicative and in the end feels much less synthetic. Sport mode offers a delicate, just-right uptick in effort. The F Sport’s added Sport+ mode hastens the frequency of downshifts, whereas its adaptive dampers appreciably tighten dealing with.

The brand new platform additionally brings with it an all-new and expanded powertrain lineup. The NX 250 base mannequin and its 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder are each new to the NX. It is paired with an eight-speed computerized and produces 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet – simply as that engine does in its TNG relative, the Toyota RAV4. This model was not readily available on the first drive occasion, however on condition that this engine is an unremarkable low level in a RAV4, it is exhausting to think about it being thought of a plus within the NX. The brand new hybrid powertrain within the rechristened NX 350h is just like what’s in RAV4 and Venza, however produces 239 whole system horsepower versus 219 (presumably on account of its premium gasoline advice). Gasoline financial system is mainly the identical at an estimated 39 miles per gallon mixed. 

Pushed again to again with the outgoing NX 300h hybrid, the enhancements are apparent. The brand new hybrid system is each gutsier, with a 0-60-mph discount of 1.5 seconds you undoubtedly discover, and it is extra refined. The engine is quieter, and the electronically managed CVT does not yo-yo revs as a lot when alternating on and off the throttle. It attracts much less consideration to its hybridness, which is at all times a very good factor. 

The opposite two powertrains aren’t shared with the RAV4 or Venza. The NX 350 and its new 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four good for 275 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque totally shellacs the previous NX 300’s 2.0-liter turbo-four that put out 235 hp and 258 lb-ft. It brings the turbo NX from one of many weakest compact luxurious SUVs to one of many strongest. That output exceeds the BMX X3 xDrive30i, Mercedes GLC 300 and Acura RDX, particularly by way of its torque. That may be attributed to its better displacement relative the others’ 2.0 liters, which suggests it does not must depend on its turbocharger as a lot to generate low-end energy. The ability supply is easy and constant, although the turbo NX can hardly be thought of a performance-oriented alternative, even when paired with the sport-tuned F Sport mannequin. Its estimated 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds can also be a few half-second slower than the X3 and GLC regardless of its energy benefit. 

Finally, probably the most interesting powertrain choice is discovered within the new NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid. Its electrical motor offers the sleek, easy punch anticipated of a PHEV, whereas limiting engine intrusion past even the new-and-improved common Hybrid when its all-electric vary is exhausted. And though it actually shares parts with the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, together with its 302 whole system horsepower, there are key variations. 

In response to Lexus product schooling supervisor Paul Williamsen, the NX 450h+ has a unique battery pack. Whereas the RAV4 Prime successfully combines the common RAV4 Hybrid’s battery pack with a second, bigger, plug-in-able battery devoted to the all-electric vary, the NX has a single huge pack that retains sufficient juice in reserve as soon as the all-electric portion is drained to run the automobile as a traditional hybrid. This permits the NX to completely replenish its electrical vary utilizing solely the engine. Whereas the RAV4 Prime’s “Cost” mode can restore a very good chunk of its whole potential vary, it wants a wall charger to be absolutely topped off.

The NX additionally makes use of the coolant system to maintain the batteries pleased, which will increase power output, particularly in hotter climates. Not one of the above improves effectivity scores relative the RAV4, nevertheless. The NX 450h+ has an EV vary of 37 miles versus the Prime’s 42. It is also 0.2 second slower and is rated at 84 MPGe versus 94 MPGe. Additional weight is the possible offender, however nonetheless these figures are vastly superior to the opposite plug-in-hybrid compact luxurious SUVs. 

As such, the hybrids are probably the most aggressive variations of the 2022 Lexus NX since their gasoline financial system provides it one thing that few rivals can match. Then once more, the turbocharged, AWD-only NX 350 undercuts the X3 and GLC by about $5,000 – the NX 350 F Sport is equally priced as these opponents, however like all NX variations, offers extra options for the cash. That features the total menu of driver help tech, together with adaptive cruise management. The NX 350h hybrid begins at mainly the identical value because the turbo (round $43,000, together with vacation spot), however cannot be paired with F Sport. The NX 450h+ is just supplied in loaded Luxurious or F Sport guises, each of which go for about $57,000 earlier than what’s prone to be a $7,500 tax rebate (at the very least for these consumers who qualify). 

So on paper the NX is smart, and it is undoubtedly improved over its predecessor. It is simply exhausting to get very enthusiastic about it. The appears to be like are nearly equivalent to the previous one and though higher to drive, it is simply not as compelling an effort as the varied rear-drive Lexus fashions or prime opponents. That is in all probability why the inside performs such a starring function. The enhancements are certain to please all these present nevertheless it’s exhausting to see many new people being enticed.