The Lexus NX was in dire need of an update. So much that mainstream models like the Toyota RAV4 Prime and Venza made us question why anyone would spend more on the out-of-date luxury equivalent. The 2022 Lexus NX Hybrid arrives to solve this dilemma, borrowing drivetrains from (you guessed it) the RAV4 Prime and Venza. Lexus will offer the NX as a family of vehicles with four powertrain options, two of which will be electrified.
The NX 350h acts as the standard hybrid model to replace the outgoing NX 300h, while the NX 450h+ arrives as the first-ever plug-in hybrid Lexus with a larger battery, more power, and usable all-electric range. With updated styling, vastly improved technology, and modern hybrid setups, the 2022 NX Hybrid looks poised to recapture the compact luxury crossover segment.
See trim levels and configurations:
Lexus introduces a bold new design language with the second-generation NX, keeping what worked from the previous model. The massive spindle grille remains but now features a new 3D effect. The headlights are now one-piece units that look smoother than the split style on the old NX. At the back, we love the new connected taillights but aren't sold on the spelled out "L-E-X-U-S" script replacing the familiar "L" badge. Lexus is not the only company to embrace this trend (the 2022 Genesis G70 does as well), but we still think it looks more tacky than elegant.
Though the NX 350h is not available with the F Sport Handling package, buyers can opt for it on the NX 450h+. This package adds deeper front and rear bumpers, color-matched fenders, 20-inch gloss black wheels, and black roof rails. Lexus offers the F Sport models in bolder colors like Ultrasonic Blue 2.0.
The NX 350h looks like the best all-around drivetrain with the new Lexus Hybrid Drive system. It pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motors, powering all four wheels. Total output is 239 horsepower, a 20% increase over the outgoing NX 300h and a nice step up over the 219-hp Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Venza. With more power on tap, the NX 350h hits 60 mph in an acceptable 7.2 seconds (1.5 seconds quicker than the previous model). Fuel economy increases by six mpg over the outgoing model, so expect to get around 36 mpg on average.
While the NX 350h sounds perfectly adequate, the 450h+ seems decadent. It borrows the drivetrain from the RAV4 Prime, generating the same 302-hp output. The larger batteries enable a 6-second 0-60 mph time and a 36-mile range on electric power alone. Sadly, like the RAV4 Prime, this model will have a limited production making it difficult to find on a dealer lot.
Compared to the exterior, the changes to the NX's cabin feel like a complete revolution. Lexus allowed the previous NX to become woefully out-of-date, but this new model debuts with the brand's most ambitious tech upgrade ever. A 9.8-inch touchscreen comes standard, but the optional 14-inch unit is the star here. It's powered by a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) that includes a voice-activated virtual assistant, user profiles, digital key, cloud capability with over-the-air updates, and wireless compatibility for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The details surrounding the screen are nice too, with clever storage innovations like a sliding wireless phone charger that sits atop a deep storage cubby. All the materials feel appropriate for a luxury vehicle, and we especially enjoy the available red leather seats in the F Sport models. Ambient lighting with 14 themes and 64 colors gives the cabin an inviting feeling, pairing well with either Black Open Pore wood or Piano Black trim.
Lexus hasn't provided full interior dimensions and specifications, but it seems like a right-sized package to our eye. CarBuzz had a chance to poke around the NX in person, and it felt comparable to other compact luxury SUVs. The rear seats offer plenty of head and legroom for moderately-sized adults, and the trunk looks large enough for most crossover drivers. Our favorite detail in the trunk is a new soft cargo cover that folds in half for easier storage. It's a small detail but one future owners will likely enjoy.
NX pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date. Production begins in Q3 of 2021, so we should have more information soon. We expect the NX 350h to slot slightly above the turbocharged NX 350 in price, like the outgoing NX hybrid model. The NX 450h+ will sit at the top of the range but will qualify for a $7,500 tax credit. Neither the Acura RDX nor the Infiniti QX50 offers a hybrid variant, so the NX Hybrid's main competitors are the Audi Q5 PHEV, BMW X3 xDrive30e, Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring, and Volvo XC60 T8, all of which are plug-in models.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Lexus NX Hybrid: