Lexus NX 350 — NX gets a redo with new engines, tech, safety features

By Jim Prueter

(March 20, 2022) When it comes to luxury-subcompact utility vehicles, there are plenty of choices and prices are generally climbing as more and more automakers luxe up advanced design, technology, driver assistance features and powertrain options including turbocharging, plug-in hybrids and even all-electric choices.

Having sat on the sidelines while competitors like Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volvo and others advance and mature with new-new everything, Lexus’ NX luxury-subcompact SUV is getting back into the game with an all-new 2022 NX, the first since it was introduced as a new model for 2015.

At first glance the 2022 NX might not look significantly different than the first generation, but under the freshened exterior skin, there are huge changes. For starters, there’s four available new powertrains including two hybrid electric models, an extensive array of new safety technology, and the first application of Lexus’ new interface that replaces the unloved and frustrating vehicle operating trackpad.

We tested the NX 350 model, the volume leader of the NX trim levels and the second-best selling Lexus in their portfolio of vehicles. It’s powered by a turbocharged 275-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission with an electric controller shifter. Lexus quotes a 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds, a tick quicker than the outgoing model and a combined EPA fuel estimate of 25 MPG. Premium fuel is required, and all-wheel drive is standard for the NX 350 model.

Inside, the cabin is significantly improved with a more updated modern look and classier, more expensive materials. There’s also slightly more back seat passenger room and new optional heated seats. There’s new ambient interior lighting with a choice of 64 different color options, and our test NX was trimmed with attractive black open-pore matte finished wood trim.

On the road the new NX has noticeably improved driving dynamics compared to the outgoing model. Most Lexus models deliver a ride that’s soft and floaty however, the NX is not. The suspension feels firmer than you might expect and there’s more road feel coming up through the steering wheel.

A console mounted dial is used to select from Normal, Eco and Sport drive modes and they do make a noticeable difference when selecting. There’s plenty of passing power with good grunt overtaking an eighteen-wheeler on a two-lane road. Bottom line, there’s some sportiness to its driving character, not in the class of the BMW X 1 and 2, Porsche Macan or new Genesis GV70 but still extremely comfortable with competent engine performance for most all driving situations.

The cabin is pleasantly quiet, not LS sedan quiet but appropriately muted. For the first time there are some upgrades offered such as a head-up display, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof making road trips even more pleasurable. Adding to that pleasure is the new infotainment controls that’s far more attractive and easier to use compared to the previous system with its frustrating operation that distracted the driver.

All trim levels are equipped with a touchscreen infotainment system; base models come with a 9.8-inch display while high-end trims get a large 14.0-inch unit. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard and work via a wireless connection; a wireless smartphone charging pad is optional. A 10-speaker stereo system is standard and comes with a free trial of Amazon Music; a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system is optional on models equipped with the Premium or Luxury packages.

The NX features a host of advanced driver assist and safety features via the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0, that goes well beyond traditional equipment such as forward collision warning, emergency automatic braking and blind spot warning to include daytime motorcycle detection, low-light pedestrian and cyclist detection and road sign recognition.

Other high-tech features include safe exit assist, which can warn if a door may be opening into traffic or a cyclist, and an optional digital mirror that provides an unobstructed rearward view in the mirror, allowing the driver to essentially see-through passengers, head restraints, and cargo.

Overall, after having complained bitterly about Lexus operating control and touchpad system in the past I must now say the new system on this NX is generally and thankfully excellent especially the new and large touchscreen that works masterfully. And, while pure driving enthusiasts who engage in a sporty driving dynamic will most likely opt for a BMW, Mercedes AMG or Porsche Macan, those who are looking for a value priced, subcompact luxury SUV with excellent reliability and resale value along with roomy, comfortable seating and cargo space , the new NX could easily be your next vehicle.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $42,625
Price as Tested: $54,375
Engine/Transmission: 2.4-Liter 275-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
EPA Fuel Economy: 22/29/25 MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: It has not been crash tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of this writing.

Where Built: Tahara, Japan

Competes with:
Acura RDX
Audi Q3
BMW X1, X2
Cadillac XT4, XT5
Genesis GV70
Infiniti QX50, QX55
Lincoln Corsair
Mercedes GLC
Volvo XC60

Fab Features:
Excellent new infotainment and touch screen controls
Poised, quiet ride and handling
Roomy, upscale, comfy interior
Loads of standard safety and driver assist features