When Lexus said it would give the NX crossover a ground-up redesign, it wasn’t resorting to hype.
The popular compact has only a few carryover parts with pretty much everything else new for 2022, from the chassis to the body design, the completely new Lexus Interface multimedia system to the NX’s first-time plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
“The 2022 NX includes the most technological vehicle changes since we launched Lexus 32 years ago,” Vinay Shahani, Lexus vice president of marketing. “With the all-new Lexus Interface multimedia system and a variety of customizable features, NX is an exciting first step in a series of 20 all-new or updated Lexus vehicles by 2025.”
A move upmarket
First shown at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show — and launched in the U.S. for the 2015 model year — the NX has become one of the most important products in the Lexus line-up. It initially served as the luxury brand’s entry model but that role has since been taken over by the smaller UX. So, product developers had the freedom to move the 2022 makeover a bit more upmarket.
It’s adopted a more mature design, with less of the hodgepodge of angles and curves found on the original NX. Some key details carry over, including the coupe-like roof and Nike “swoosh”-style daytime running lamps — though the Lexus signature spindle grille has a slightly new look. It’s now made up of “U”-shaped blocks with a more three-dimensional feel.
Like other manufacturers, Lexus designers made sure to better differentiate between different trim levels. The NX 450h+ features new 20-inch wheels, for example up from the 18-inchers that were the biggest available on the outgoing crossover. The performance version also adds a black roof rail and mirror caps.
Across the line, all NX models adopt a new logo — or, more precisely, a spelled out “L-E-X-U-S.” The traditional “L” logo is retained on the nose.
The 2022 model’s makeover gives the NX cabin a more cockpit-like layout, even the new infotainment screen angled towards the driver. The Lexus Interface is one of the more significant updates and “will get rapidly phased in across all of our vehicles,” said Steve Basra, Toyota’s global vice president of Connected Technologies. Expect to see a version eventually land in the Toyota product family, as well.
The new NX features a 7-inch Multi Instrument Display and, in base trim, a 9.8-inch touchscreen. Buyers can add a 10-inch head-up display, or HUD, and upgrade to the new infotainment system’s 14-inch touchscreen. It delivers a radically different experience than Lexus buyers previously experienced — among other things doing away with the awkward mouse-like controller on the center console.
The cloud-based system is fast and far more intuitive. You can access pretty much any key control, such as audio, navigation or secondary climate functions, either from the home screen or with one additional tap. The system can be highly personalized and a driver’s individual settings can be both accessed by a smartphone app and, as the system rolls out, they’ll automatically transfer to any other Lexus you drive.
Features like Alexa, Sirius XM, Apple and Amazon Music are built in (with others, such as Pandora, possibly coming later). The system also features a more powerful voice assistant, on the order of Mercedes’ MBUX, if not Amazon Alexa. And, with the car’s new over-the-air update functionality, expect to see features added — both to the Lexus Interface and other vehicle systems.
Plenty of powertrain options
With the NX, Lexus is betting that buyers want plenty of choice, and plenty of options. That’s especially apparent with the powertrain line-up, four distinct packages available.
In early incarnations, Lexus — like parent Toyota — positioned hybrids as its “green” option. The new NX 450h+ delivers the best fuel economy, as well as 36 miles of all-electric driving range. However, the plug-in also will be the line’s top performer, launching from 0-60 in a sharp, if not stellar, 6 seconds.
The system pairs a 2.5-liter gas engine with a twin-motor electric drive system. Curiously, while talking launch times, Lexus has yet to reveal specific horsepower and torque numbers for the PHEV, hinting only that the electric drive system “achieves the EV output equivalent to a 2.0-liter engine.”
The NX 450h+ will be offered only in all-wheel drive. The size of the “newly developed” lithium-ion battery pack is another mystery, but Lexus says it can be charged in 2.5 hours using an optional, 240-volt 6.6 kilowatt charger, or in 4.5 hours with the standard 3.3 kW charger. The system cannot plug into the new, high-speed 440-volt public chargers popping up around the country.
Not everything’s a hybrid
There’s also a conventional hybrid package, the 2022 Lexus NX 350h. It pairs a 2.5-liter gas engine with twin electric motors to produce 239 hp — up 20% from the outgoing hybrid package. Fuel economy jumps 6 mpg to 36 Combined, and the hybrid hits 60 in 7.2 seconds — that number down 1.5 seconds from before.
For base models, Lexus is offering the 2022 NX 250. It’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-4 produces 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It pushes power through an 8-speed transmission and is available in both front- and all-wheel drive. It will take you 8.2 seconds to hit 60.
The mid-range powertrain is a turbocharged 2.4-liter package on the NX 350, a new trim level. This option delivers 275 hp and 317 lb-ft. It also uses the 8-speed automatic and can hit 60 in 6.8 seconds.
The NX package is completed by an assortment of advanced driver assistance systems, the newly upgraded Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. Standard features include forward collision warning and auto braking, a system to detect oncoming traffic — and apply the brakes, if necessary — when making a left turn, road sign recognition and more.
Production of the 2022 Lexus NX is scheduled to launch during the third quarter of this year. Pricing will be announced closer to that point. The current model starts at $37,610 before delivery fees and taxes.