2022 Lexus NX First Test


The Lexus NX 2022 is both a sure evolution of the product it replaces and a major redesign with lasting implications. Its dimensions and styling are so similar to the outgoing NX that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a mid-cycle refresh, but in fact it’s a fundamental overhaul based on new ones. foundations. Sure, they’re shared with all of the front-wheel drive Toyota Group products introduced over the past four years, but that’s part of the “sure evolution”.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with such an approach from a new model. While the NX has never been considered a class leader since its launch in 2015, it has nonetheless recorded strong sales – you know, just like the Lexus ES, RX, and name-a-Toyota – vehicles whose car enthusiasts might be kidding, but everyone. appreciated for their build quality, reliability, resale value and general competence.

Although, if we are talking about competence, it is at least worth pointing out one element of the Lexus formula that all these loyal buyers have somehow supported: the Remote Touch technical interface and the hellish touchpad that was used, with a few exceptions, in every Lexus since its debut in… that’s right, the original NX. And here’s where the long-term implications of the all-new 2022 NX come in: Remote Touch is gone and in its place, the new ‘Human Machine Interface’ touchscreen infotainment system will make its way through the brand. This is a really big deal, because it means that a very real, annoying reason not to buy a Lexus is about to go away… and not present in the new NX at all.

That said, the new touchscreen is not only the NX’s most significant change and improvement, but the most significant missed opportunity. We’ll cover this in detail in a follow-up infotainment review, but in short, the system places too much emphasis on voice commands and could really use the ability to display multiple sources of information at once. Otherwise, the two available touchscreens (a 9.6-inch base unit and a 14-inch widescreen upgrade) have a faster, prettier, and easier-to-use user interface. I was able to jump into the new NX and figure it all out quickly, which certainly can’t be said of other luxury systems that continue to be puzzling after multiple uses, including Mercedes’ MBUX and Remote Touch.

These trims with the 14-inch screen are also associated with a unique set of buttons on the steering wheel. They are unmarked – their functionality is indicated by pop-ups in the also included heads-up display. It’s a new idea, but it’s a bit confusing, and if you’ve got polarized sunglasses that erase a HUD, good luck.

Like the new touchscreen, this steering wheel-HUD combo is sure to spread throughout the Lexus family, but that’s not all. The switchgear is new, including the drive mode selector, Prius-style electronic gearshift, and unusual electronic door openers, while the overall design aesthetic is a big change for the brand. It’s more driver-focused, but it’s also less distinctive than an IS, for example, and the expanse of the black dashboard on the passenger side it’s a bit 1998. Materials and build quality remain up to Lexus’ usual high standards.

In terms of space, the 2022 NX is virtually identical to the compact SUV it replaces. There are no appreciable gains in exterior dimensions or passenger space, although cargo space increases by 5 cubic feet. The NX therefore remains the smallest compact luxury SUV, and although its exterior dimensions greatly exceed those of subcompacts like the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA, its interior dimensions are actually quite similar.

Like all new Toyota / Lexus on the TNG platform, the new NX benefits from substantial improvements in reflexes and refinement. In short, it’s much better to drive, but still not great to drive. The suspension is more controlled, but the ride quality is improved. The steering is a little lighter at low speed (at least in Normal mode), but it is more precise, communicative and ultimately less artificial. Sport mode offers a subtle and fair increase in effort. The Sport + mode added to the F Sport accelerates the frequency of downshifts, while its adaptive dampers noticeably improve handling.

The new platform also brings a whole new expanded powertrain lineup. The base model NX 250 and its 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder are both new to the NX. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic and produces 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet – just like this engine does in its TNG parent, the Toyota RAV4. This version wasn’t available during the first driving event, but given that this engine is an unremarkable low point in a RAV4, it’s hard to imagine it being considered a plus in the NX. The rebranded NX 350h’s new hybrid powertrain is similar to that of the RAV4 and Venza, but produces 239 total horsepower up from 219 (possibly due to its premium fuel recommendation). Fuel economy is basically the same at around 39 miles per gallon combined.

Pushed back to back with the outgoing NX 300h Hybrid, the improvements are obvious. The new hybrid system is both bolder, with a 1.5-second 0-100 km / h reduction you’ll certainly notice, and it’s more refined. The engine is quieter, and the electronically controlled CVT doesn’t yo-yo as much when alternating the throttle. He draws less attention to his hybridity, which is always a good thing.

The other two powertrains are not shared with the RAV4 or the Venza. The NX 350 and its new 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four delivering 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque completely crush the old 2.0-liter turbo-four of the NX 300 which develops 235 horsepower and 258 lbs. -pi. It takes the NX turbo from one of the weaker luxury compact SUVs to one of the strongest. This power exceeds the BMX X3 xDrive30i, Mercedes GLC 300 and Acura RDX, especially in terms of torque. This can be attributed to its larger displacement compared to others’ 2.0 liters, which means it doesn’t have to rely as much on its turbocharger to generate power at low revs. Power output is smooth and consistent, although the NX turbo can hardly be considered a performance-oriented choice, even when paired with the sporty-tuned F Sport model. Its estimated 0-60 second time of 6.6 seconds is also about half a second slower than the X3 and GLC despite its power advantage.

Ultimately, the most attractive powertrain option can be found in the new NX 450h + plug-in hybrid. Its electric motor delivers the smooth, effortless punching power expected of a PHEV, while limiting engine intrusion beyond even the new and improved regular hybrid when its all-electric range is exhausted. And while it certainly shares components with the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, as well as its 302 total horsepower, there are some key differences.

According to Paul Williamsen, Lexus’ product training manager, the NX 450h + has a drums pack. While the RAV4 Prime effectively combines the battery of the regular RAV4 Hybrid with a second larger plug-in battery dedicated to the all-electric range, the NX has a massive single pack that keeps enough juice in reserve once the all-electric is drained. to run the car like a normal hybrid. This allows the NX to fully restore its electric range using only the motor. While the RAV4 Prime’s “Charge” mode can restore a good portion of its full potential range, it needs a wall charger to be fully charged.

The NX also uses the cooling system to keep the batteries satisfied, which increases power output, especially in warmer climates. However, none of the above improves efficiency ratings over RAV4. The NX 450h + has an EV range of 37 miles compared to the Prime’s 42. It’s also 0.2 seconds slower and is rated at 84 MPGe versus 94 MPGe. The extra weight is probably the culprit, but those numbers are nonetheless vastly higher than other plug-in hybrid compact luxury SUVs.

As such, hybrids are the most competitive version of the Lexus NX 2022 because their fuel economy gives it something few rivals can match. Then again, the turbocharged all-wheel-drive NX 350 is around $ 5,000 lower than the X3 and GLC – the NX 350 F Sport is priced the same as these competitors, but like all NX versions, it offers more features for money. This includes the full menu of driver assistance technology, including adaptive cruise control. The NX 350h Hybrid starts at essentially the same price as the turbo (around $ 43,000 including destination), but cannot be paired with F Sport. The NX 450h + is only offered in Luxury or F Sport trims, both costing around $ 57,000 before what is likely to be a tax refund of $ 7,500 (at least for qualifying buyers).

So on paper the NX makes sense, and it’s definitely improved over its predecessor. It’s just hard to be very excited about this. The look is almost identical to the old one, and while it’s better to drive, it’s just not as convincing an effort as the various rear-wheel-drive Lexus models or top competitors. This is probably why the interior plays such an important role. The upgrades are sure to appeal to all current ones, but it’s hard to see a lot of new people being drawn in.

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