New vehicle buyers are often warned to not buy the first year of a new model or a redesign to give the automaker the chance to work out any bugs or issues arising from the changes. With as often as vehicles get minor updates, this adage may not carry the amount of truth as it once did, but it’s something to keep in mind.
I can’t speak to the 2022 Lexus NX 350h — when it got its latest makeover — but I can say the 2023 model is an impressive machine. It’s the second smallest SUV in the luxury brand’s line-up and the previous generation model was among my least favorite small utes — the newest version is one of my favorites in the class.
The exterior of our NX was clad in cadmium orange, one of the new deep, dark versions of orange that’s risen in popularity in the past two years, and it looks good on the luxury ute. Overall the look is simple and clean, gone is the collection of curves and angles that made it look fussy, not elegant like the current version.
The big grille used across the Lexus line-up graces the nose of the NX and ute’s big enough to not be weighed down by it. It conveys a look of opulence, providing the small crossover with the gravitas needed to be considered part of “the group.” The top of the grille extends into a sculpted hood that accentuates the other lines running down the side of the vehicle giving it real presence — it’s a good-looking machine.
However, the big change is inside the NX 350h where the full impact of the longer, wider and taller dimensions from the update from a couple years ago really help put driver and passengers in a comfortable space.
The NX features all of the top-end leather and soft-touch materials one expects from a Lexus, but it’s the optional 14-inch touchscreen that steals the show. Overall the screen as well as a few dials and buttons are easy to use, providing a clear picture of what’s what and how to use it. There’s enough cargo space to bring what you need to wherever you’re going.
The leather-clad seats are comfortable and with the rear seats folded, there’s enough room for a couple sets of golf clubs and all the stuff we duffers like to bring with us. I can imagine this is a great road tripper for a couple.
The “h” in 350h unsurprisingly stands for “hybrid.” The ute’s powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with three motor generators that using permanent magnet motors to put out 239 horsepower.
All this is funneled through three ominous letters: C. V. T. Yup, it uses a continuously variable transmission, which is great for helping with stunningly good mileage numbers. However, the CVT’s got a reputation for being a power buzzkill. However, Toyota’s been making big strides with its unit and it shows in the NX 350h. The response from me putting my foot to the floor was almost immediate, none of that rumble and roar we used to experience while it searched for the answer to the question our accelerator foot was posing. I still don’t want one in my personal vehicle, but I’m pleased to see them getting better.
It gets a combined EPA-estimated 39 mpg, which is slightly better than what I averaged during my week. It’s got plenty of punch, racing from a stop to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. It’s quick not overwhelming.
Safety and Technology
The new NX 350h offers plenty of safety tech through the Lexus Safety System-plus 3.0, including lane-tracing assist, dynamic radar cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and more. It also features a trial version of Drive Connect with Cloud Navigation, Destination Assist and Intelligent Assistant.
To be honest, I don’t use them much, but I found the navigation system to be very good. Instead, I used the wireless Apple CarPlay, although Android Auto is available too. Also available is an Alexa-style voice assistant that allows you to control different features on the infotainment system. I’m still not of a mind to tell the car to turn up its radio while I’m driving. I guess I feel like the car is doing plenty, I can probably handle a volume knob.
The NX 350h is a much improved vehicle compared to its previous iterations. It was a very enjoyable week behind the wheel. The powertrain is responsive and punchy, perfect for its size and daily duties. The mileage is tough to beat as well.
The massive touchscreen helps it keep pace with the Joneses, so to speak, and it fits right in with the interior styling. The NX is a great place to be. Comfortable, roomy enough with good visibility and great technology. So often small luxury utes feel like small gussied up utes, not so with the NX so kudos to Lexus for producing a small model that is clearly among the leader — some might say it is the leader — of the pack.
2023 Lexus NX 350h Luxury Specifications
|L: 183.5 inches/W: 73.4 inches/H: 66.1 inches/Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
|2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder three permanent magnet motors; CVT
|41 mpg city/37 mpg highway/39 mpg combined
|Base price: $49,405; As tested: $56,960 plus $1,150 delivery fees
While it could be argued the Lexus NX 350h is the leader of its class, I’m not certain I would make that argument.
When I drive a vehicle, the issue is always the same: am I getting what I paying for — or what I would pay for. The 2023 Lexus NX 350h I drove stickered at just under $57 grand. Is the NX 350h a good vehicle? Yes, absolutely!
Could I see myself spending that kind of money? No. I’d rather have the BMW X1 for much less (admittedly not a hybrid) and I can get it in that amazing orange color.
2023 Lexus NX 350h Luxury — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the fuel economy rating for the 2023 NX 350h?
The luxury brand’s second-smallest offering gets great fuel economy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The small ute gets an average of 39 mph combined.
What is the wait time for a Lexus NX 350h?
The timeframes mentioned so far by participants on this site indicate that for ordering a Lexus NX, it seems to take an average delivery time of about 12 months.
Is the Lexus NX 350h self charging?
The product of over 15 years of experience in pioneering electrification, the Lexus Self-Charging Hybrid supplies the NX 350h with more power and acceleration yet best-in-class economy and emissions.