Lexus NX 450h+ — NX gets electric driving

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(November 13, 2022) In an automotive related discussion with a friend the subject of her 2018 Lexus NX 300 came up. We asked if she is shopping a new Lexus and has she considered the restyled 2022 NX? "I don't see any need for a change now, my Lexus has all the stuff I want," she said. "But, we replied, the new NX has updated styling and a load of new tech compared to your nearly five-year-old car."

"I don't think there's anything really different that would tempt me to change cars," she said. There may be one thing, we noted, that may change your mind and make a big difference in your life — a 2022 NX 450h+ in your garage. "What the heck is the big difference," she asked. "Glad you asked. The new NX can give you between 35 and 40 miles of all-electric driving, which means you may not have to pump gas during the week for your trips to and from work."

And when driving in regular hybrid operation once you've used up the stored electricity, you should still get about 36 mpg. She agreed saving money on high-priced gas was a big deal and, indeed, that is a big difference from her 2018 model. "Tell me more about this car and I might have to re-evaluate a purchase this year," she said.

OK, we're here to tell you all about it.

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 new powertrains available 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.

The NX 450h+ is the first-ever NX plug-in hybrid, basically a luxury version of the Toyota RAV4 Prime. The hybrid drivetrain is comprised of three electric motors, and a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) making a total of 302 horsepower. All 450h+ models come with all-wheel drive as standard equipment.

In addition to being extremely fuel efficient, the 450h+ can finish off a 0-to-60 run in under 6 seconds. That's not fast by today's standards when luxury vehicles are considered "slow" if they don't crack the six-second mark, but this NX is more powerful than any NX offered since it first hit showrooms in 2015, and it should satisfy virtually all current NX owners with its energetic performance.

The NX 450Hh+ is the most expensive in the lineup starting at $57,225 — $61,170 as tested. But if you like the NX, there are alternatives starting at $39,425 for the NX 250 that comes with a 203-horsepower 4-cylinder. The mid-level NX 350h hybrid or NX 350 are good choices starting at $42,625 and $43,025 respectively. The NX 350h is a conventional hybrid pairing a four-cylinder gas engine with two electric motors for 239 horsepower, and the NX 350 comes with a turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 275 horsepower mated to a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission. It is good for 6.6 seconds in a 0-to-60 run.

And, by the way, the conventional hybrid NX carries an EPA rating of 41 mpg city, 37 highway and 39 combined.

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 450h+ 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 are 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 such as the 450h+  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.

Overall, after having continually complained about Lexus operating control and touchpad system in the past, we 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 for four, the new NX could easily be your next vehicle.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+


Base price: $57,225; as driven, $61,170
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 3 electric motors
Horsepower: 302 total
Transmission: continuously variable (CVT)
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 183.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,475 pounds
Turning circle: 38 feet
Luggage capacity: 22.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 46.9 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons (premium)
Electric range: 37 miles
EPA rating: 84 MPGe; 38 city, 33 highway, 36 combined
0-60: 6 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Porsche Macan, Genesis GV70, BMW X2

The Good
• Long electric driving range
• Very good fuel economy in hybrid mode
• Attractive and comfortable interior

The Bad
• Less cargo space than most competitors

The Ugly
• High purchase price over standard hybrid NX