Bold styling takes center stage once again.
The first-generation Lexus NX compact crossover made a huge statement when it debuted back in 2014. The Japanese luxury automaker was in the dramatic process of shifting away from conservative styling to something far more radical and controversial. The ultimate goal was to capture the hearts of a younger generation of buyers and the NX played a huge role in that.
And now the second-gen model has arrived. The 2022 Lexus NX picks up right where its predecessor left off. The large spindle grille remains though it's evolved slightly and the rest of the body is equally dramatic, albeit more refined than its predecessor.
It was important for Lexus to get everything right because the NX is one of its best-selling models, just behind the larger RX. Like before, the new NX shares a platform with the Toyota RAV4, which is no bad thing.
Thanks to riding on a new platform (internally called GA-K), Lexus designers were able to iron out some of the previous NX's biggest styling issues. For starters, the new NX has a lower center of gravity and bolder stance. The more refined-looking spindle grille integrates more nicely into the rest of the body and boasts tall U-shaped blocks for a 3D effect. Directly above the standard LED headlights are L-shaped daytime running lights. Three-projector headlights are optional.
The rear end features the first use of the brand's new LEXUS logo - the L emblem is gone - that's located in the middle of the tailgate above the license plate. The L-shaped lighting style continues with the taillights that begin on the rear fenders and are connected by a light strip.
New exterior colors such as Redline and Cloudburst Gray are available while the most powerful F Sport model receives trim-exclusive Ultra White, Obsidian, and Ultra Sonic Blue Mica 2.0 as options.
Lexus has taken a page directly from its German luxury rivals with the new NX's driver-focused cockpit. Already known for its outstanding build quality and abundant use of high-quality materials, Lexus now wants drivers and passengers to have a more dynamic experience. A 7-inch instrument display comes standard and buyers can get an optional 10-inch head-up display as well. Both systems provide vehicle information, and alerts and updates.
A 9.8-inch touchscreen display is packed with multimedia tech. And if that screen size isn't large enough, a 14-inch unit is available. Lexus clearly listened to customer feedback because dial controls for volume and temperature remain conventional dials. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are also standard.
What's really exciting is the first application of the Lexus Interface multimedia system for both touchscreens. It includes new and advanced features like the Human Machine Interface to ensure better accessibility through sight, touch, and voice. There's also a new Virtual Assistant with dual microphones, noise-cancelation, and seat detection. The Lexus Interface, also a smartphone app, retains the driver's personal settings. Using the Digital Key gives the ability to lock/unlock and start/stop the vehicle with the owner's smartphone within Bluetooth proximity.
Lexus will offer buyers a choice between two gasoline engines: the base level NX 250 is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the front wheels (all-wheel drive is optional) via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 mph for the FWD and AWD takes 8.2 seconds and 8.6 seconds, respectively.
Those who want more oomph will gravitate towards the NX 350's all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 275 hp and 317 lb-ft. Available only with AWD and an also new eight-speed automatic, 0-60 mph happens in 6.8 seconds. The turbo model can be further equipped with the F Sport Handling package that tacks on things like an active suspension, dampers, and 20-inch wheels.
Both NX trims come standard with Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 suite that includes emergency assist, vehicle detection and braking, pedestrian detection, pre-collision alert, and radar cruise control. Another useful feature is the Digital Latch which opens the vehicle's doors with the push of a button when entering or exiting. Safe Exit Assist is there to alert drivers and passengers of incoming objects like other vehicles and cyclists.
Lexus has yet to announce official pricing but production is to get underway this summer. Sales are likely to begin in the fall. The outgoing model carried a starting price of $37,610 and we don't expect that to drastically change. A fully-loaded model will likely top off at around $50,000.
The luxury compact crossover segment remains extremely competitive and the 2022 Lexus NX will face off against the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and the Audi Q5. The RDX is also all-new and the X3 received some significant midlife updates for the new model year.
Overall, Lexus has upped its compact crossover segment game by introducing a more refined-looking and technology-rich vehicle that'll not only appeal to current NX owners but also customers from competing brands looking for something new.