The luxury compact SUV has a point to prove.
As posh as the Lexus NX has always felt from behind the wheel, it has started to wrinkle around the edges a bit over the last year or two. Fortunately, an all-new 2022 model NX is here. Lexus teased its compact luxury crossover at the start of the month and now we have full imagery and all the juicy technical details that should see the NX stand a better chance against its German contemporaries. Along with bold new styling, Lexus has crucially introduced its new Lexus Interface infotainment system that will hopefully do away with the fussiness of the old system, one of our biggest criticisms of the old NX.
Outside, the new NX isn't a drastic departure from the previous model. It remains a sporty and assertive compact SUV with just enough drama to set it apart. The spindle grille is similarly massive and is detailed by U-shaped blocks that help to create a 3D effect.
The grille is complemented by L-shaped daytime running lights and available three-projector headlamps. At the back, a new LEXUS logo replaces the L emblem that has been used for some time and uses a full-width blade rear combination headlamp that links the new NX to other Lexus models like the latest IS. The racy F Sport gets a unique grille and 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels.
Inside, the new NX is a more significant departure from its predecessor. Lexus says that the layout is distinctly driver-centered and this is evident in the way the center stack is angled towards the driver - we saw this layout previously in leaked images. The big news, though, is the North American-developed Lexus Interface multimedia system.
Using sight, touch, or voice, drivers can manage several connectivity and entertainment functions. A 9.8-inch touchscreen is standard but a stunning 14-inch touchscreen is available as an option. A 10-inch head-up display is also optional.
The system allows drivers to store and access individual profiles, employ the services of a new Virtual Assistant, and over-the-air updates are possible. With the larger screen, climate control controls are integrated into the lower section of the display.
It all sounds good but we hope the new system is more user-friendly than the old one. As standard, the 2022 Lexus NX comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Elsewhere, open pore wood and soft-touch materials enhance the luxury feel. An available Thematic Ambient Illumination system with themes like Sunset and Rain Forest is on offer. Lexus promises greater head and legroom thanks to the use of the Lexus GA-K platform.
Driver-assistance features were high on the agenda. The Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 includes technologies like dynamic radar cruise control with curve speed management and risk avoidance emergency steer assist.
As for powertrains, there are several choices to suit different buyers. The NX 250 has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Available in both FWD and AWD configurations, the former will reach 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. The all-new NX 350 boasts a 2.4-liter turbocharged powerplant with 275 hp and 317 lb-ft, allowing it to complete the benchmark sprint in a more rapid 6.8 seconds.
For more efficiency, two hybrid models are available. The NX 350h pairs a 2.5-liter four-pot with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators. A combined output of 239 hp allows for a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds and a manufacturer estimated 36 mpg.
The performer of the range is the new NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid. Its new hybrid transaxle and 2.5-liter four-pot allow the PHEV to reach 60 mph in just six seconds.
The PHEV has a manufacturer-estimated range of 36 miles when running on electric power alone. The powertrain is linked to a full-time AWD system. With an available 6.6-kW onboard charger, the PHEV can be fully charged in 2.5 hours. However, the standard charger increases the charging time to 4.5 hours.
Both the PHEV and turbocharged NX models can be specced in F Sport guise (picture in blue here). This model gets a bespoke exterior design, unique interior trim, and front/rear performance dampers.
"The all-new Lexus NX sets a new standard in the luxury crossover market with class-leading innovations in electrified powertrains, infotainment, driving dynamics, styling and safety," said Vinay Shahani, Lexus vice president of marketing.
Lexus will only announce pricing at a later date but the 2022 NX is scheduled to begin production in the third quarter of this year. It will go up against the recently facelifted BMW X3.