Just because two vehicles share the same powertrain doesn’t mean it’s the same car with different shells. Case and point the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+. You may think that it’s merely a more luxurious RAV4 Prime. After spending a week with it, that’s not the case. The notion of platform sharing seems bad but their modularity allows Toyota and Lexus to create distinct vehicles. The latest iteration of the latter’s compact luxury SUV proves that sharing bits with mainstream vehicles doesn’t degrade luxury vehicles.
2022 Lexus NX 450h+: Evolution is a Good Thing
Lexus’ design language emphasizes evolution, focusing on refinement, ensuring that the new look aligns with the rest of the lineup. Despite that, it avoids the Russian doll effect and sports a more polished take on the spindle grille. The NX gets a familiar headlight pattern but with new details like revised LED daytime running lights and blade-shaped turn signals. Its overall silhouette remains the same as does the greenhouse. In the back, you get full-width LED taillights with split lighting elements surrounded by a black trim. F Sport models get a mesh grille pattern and adaptive variable suspension. All NX 450h+ models get 20-inch alloy wheels as standard.
The big changes happen inside because the 2022 NX lineup sports a new interior layout. You lose the touchpad in favor of a more traditional layout with a center stack angled towards the driver. In typical Lexus fashion, it features impeccable build quality, featuring materials that feel as expensive as they look. Nothing in the cabin exudes cheapness and you get lots of padded surfaces in areas you touch frequently. Lexus kept the harder bits to lower portions, keeping them away from your hands. However, the NX needs a little more sound deadening. On the highway and poorly maintained surfaces, you get excessive road noise.
Despite its exterior dimensions remaining similar to the outgoing model, the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ Offers a lot of usable space. The rear seats have a lot of head- and legroom, easily fitting adults of all sizes. Unfortunately, the front seats lack headroom, especially for taller passengers. How? The seats don’t go low enough. Additionally, the limited steering wheel adjustment means you need to sit far forward, further shrinking the gap between your head and headliner.
Lexus says you have 22.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up or 46.9 cubic feet with them folded. In reality, these numbers don’t tell the whole story because you get lots of usable cargo capacity even with the curvaceous roofline. The car also features generous underfloor storage including a slot for the folding cargo cover. One thing I wish the NX had more of is small-item storage. Other than the smartphone tray on the center console, things like your wallet need to go into the bin or glovebox.
Class-Leading Tech Features
Lexus launched its new infotainment system on the 2022 NX family. This interface is now among the most intuitive on the market with minimal submenus, quick responses, and a straightforward layout. Additionally, the virtual assistant feature works well, allowing you to quickly say ”Hey Lexus!” followed by your commands. And yes, it tells jokes just like Google, Siri, and Mercedes. The optional 14.0-inch touchscreen has vivid graphics and neatly blends physical controls with its functions. A surprisingly good 10-speaker audio system comes standard and does a good job covering the cabin. However, it lacks the crispness of the available 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system.
Once one of the more conservative driving assistance suites, the new Lexus’ Safety System+ 3.0 changes that. This now ranks among the best thanks to its proactive responses. The lane-centering component does a fantastic job keeping you from drifting without getting overly intrusive. Adaptive cruise control’s distancing component also keeps a closer gap and reacts sooner to someone cutting you off. In gridlock, the car flows with traffic smoother and no longer waits too long after the vehicle ahead moves. The system also gains evasive steering assist and expands the operating range of automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.
2022 Lexus NX 450h+: No, It’s Not a Luxurious RAV4 Prime
The 2022 NX moves to Toyota and Lexus’ TNGA-K architecture shared with several vehicles from both brands. However, this SUV possesses a distinct character that allows it to stand out. This stands out on the road where the NX 450h+ drives more like a tall car. It’s more composed and features tight, accurate steering with nice weighting. Well-controlled body motions and good grip levels keep it planted through turns and evasive maneuvers. While this results in a firm suspension, the NX remains comfortable and does a great job isolating the passenger compartment. Even with the standard 20-inch wheels, it filters harsh impacts well while providing respectable amounts of road feel.
A potent plug-in hybrid powertrain complements the NX 450h+’s composure. It couples a 2.5-liter I-4 to two electric motors, a planetary gear set, and an 18.1-kWh battery. With 304 hp combined under your right foot, crossover accelerates without any fuss. Put your foot down and you get smooth, linear power for all driving situations even in all-electric mode. The two electric motors’ instant torque helps the NX move like a lighter vehicle than its 4,475-pound curb weight suggests. Unfortunately, it can get intrusive in Sport mode because the transmission rubber bands like an old CVT as it constantly switches between low and high ratios.
Like other FWD-based Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the NX 450h+ uses an e-AWD setup. That adds a second electric drive motor on the rear axle for additional grip. While some cars get a more conservative calibration, the NX 450h+’s reacts swiftly. You immediately get traction in all four corners when accelerating or on traction-limited surfaces. It also likes to overdrive the rear wheels when driving spiritedly, allowing the car to rotate controllably. Push too far, though and the NX tends to get tail happy and understeer at the same time, highlighting the limits of its tires.
Best of All Worlds
Plug-in hybrids aim to give you the best of everything and the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ succeeds in doing that. You get generous all-electric range at 37 miles and a 550-mile range according to the EPA. In typical Toyota and Lexus fashion, this luxury compact SUV overachieves. I consistently traveled between 42 and 50 miles during my week before the gas engine kicked in. As a result, I averaged 53.7 mpg, higher than the 38/33/36 mpg city/highway/combined that the EPA estimates.
The plug-in NX also serves as an excellent introduction to electrified motoring thanks to its brake pedal operation. Seamless transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking reduce the learning curve and keep you from getting jolted during hard stops. This also allows you to take advantage of the car’s ability to recuperate energy as it slows down. That gets you improved efficiency and reduces wear on the brake pads.
Due to its sizable battery, you need to charge the NX 450h+ to get the most out of it. You can go from 0 to 100 percent in 10 to 12 hours using a household outlet. On a level 2 AC charger, the standard 3.3-kW onboard charger reduces that to 4.5 hours. The optional 6.6-kW unit further drops that 2.5 hours. Together with the long all-electric driving range, you can do most of your commute without any emissions. At the same time, you retain the flexibility and long-distance capability afforded by a traditional gas-only vehicle.
2022 Lexus NX 450h+: Loaded with Value
Although pricing went up across the 2022 NX lineup, it manages to keep its value proposition intact. The NX 450h+ may be the priciest version starting at $56,725 but it comes with nearly everything. Triple-beam LED headlights, a surround-view camera, front cross-traffic alert, and other standalone options are the only things not standard. This test car gets all of that plus several accessories and checks in at $62,090. Even if you go for the F Sport variant, it’s hard to break past the $65,000 mark on the NX 450h+. Sadly, Toyota’s tax credits begin sunsetting before the end of 2022, meaning you only get half, which is $3,750, instead of the full $7,500. Fortunately, it still qualifies for local and state incentives.
The 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ ranks among its best products alongside the LC family and the ES 300h. While not the most powerful or the sportiest, the plug-in NX manages to blend all of the traditional luxury virtues in a package with well-sorted road manners. It happily eats through miles of highway on long drives and keeps you comfortable on the daily commute. Found yourself on a winding road? No problem because the NX 450h+ is down for a good time, especially in F Sport guise. While the majority of consumers know Lexus for its cushy vehicles like the LS, ES, and RX. The NX, especially the PHEV, represents the brand’s youthful side with its fun-loving personality.