The Car Connection Lexus NX Overview
Though the Lexus NX is a compact luxury crossover, it's smaller than the Lexus RX, but bigger than the UX.
When it debuted in 2015, the NX was the marque's first turbocharged model as well as its first utility vehicle in this smaller segment. The NX competes in an ever-growing crowded field of compact luxury crossovers that includes the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
MORE: Read our 2022 Lexus NX review
The new Lexus NX
The 2022 Lexus NX is completely new, but its shape doesn't look much different. It's still is mishmash of creases highlighted by a massive hourglass grille that drops lower and flares wider. Dimensions grow slightly. It's 0.8 inch longer and it's wheelbase increases 1.2 inches. it's also 0.8 inch taller. The changes create more head room and front legroom, and while cargo space behind the second row increases 22.6 cubic feet, total cargo space drops from 54.6 to 46.9 cubic feet.
Lexus offers four new powertrains for the NX, including the brand's first plug-in hybrid. The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in the NX 250 makes 203 hp, and a 2.4-liter turbo-4 in the NX 350 spins up 275 hp. Both get an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is offered with the base engine and comes standard on all others.
The hybrids start with the 350h, which features a 2.5-liter inline-4 paired with an electric motor to deliver 239 total hp and 39 mpg. The new NX 450h+ uses the powertrain from the RAV4 Prime; it's a 2.5-liter inline-4 and motor team to create 302 hp and launch the SUV from 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds, according to Lexus. Its 18.1-kwh battery pack provides 37 miles of all-electric driving range, and the battery can be charged in 2.5 hours with an available 6.6-kw charger. The rear-mounted motor of both hybrids provides all-wheel drive, and both use e-CVT transmissions.
F Sport versions of the NX 350 and NX 450h+ add adaptive dampers, darkened exterior trim, aluminum interior trim, and 20-inch wheels.
The big news inside is Lexus' new touchscreen infotainment system that replaces a system that used a touchpad. A 9.8-inch screen comes standard and a 14.0-inch screen comes on higher-line models. The new system brings Lexus up to date with modern infotainment interfaces.
Prices for the NX start below $40,000 and range up to the mid-$50,000s for the plug-in hybrid. Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 18-inch alloy wheels, plus a good set of safety equipment that consists of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic high beams, and a safe exit system. Buyers can also get a rear camera mirror, a surround-view camera system, front cross-traffic alerts, a head-up display, and automatic parking.
Lexus NX history
When it debuted as a 2015 model, Lexus went for a very distinct look with its small crossover. In no way did it resemble the RAV4 on which it was based, with a pronounced version of the Lexus-family spindle grille on a long-overhanging and sharp front end. The short headlights were mounted high, while slits in the lower fascia housed running lights. The rest of the sheet metal was equally sharply defined, giving the NX an almost angry look, especially when viewed from the front. Flared wheel wells and a fast roofline led to an ordinary-by-comparison rear view that maintained more of the staid Lexus look.
The NX carried its sporty theme to the interior. It was a much sleeker look than in Lexus SUVs past, with a cozier, more cockpit-like feel and a rich mix of materials though perhaps with too few soft surfaces.
At around 183 inches long, with a wheelbase of more than 106 inches, the NX was sized right in the middle of the compact SUV segment. The sport seats had a rather low hip point compared to those of other crossovers, but the NX never seemed sporty. Decent rear seating space and long, low cargo area revealed its practical RAV4 roots.
Lexus offered the NX 300 with a 235-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 paired and a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the NX300h hybrid with a 2.5-liter inline-4 and a motor for a total of 194 hp. Both powertrains were offered in front- and all-wheel-drive versions, though they were different. The NX 300 used a mechanical system, while the hybrid drove the rear wheels with a separate, 50-kw (67-hp) electric motor. An F Sport package included a more aggressive grille, unique interior trim, comfortable sport seats, and a sport-tuned suspension.
The NX debuted a new generation of the Lexus Remote Touch interface, this one featuring a touchpad, haptic feedback, and scratchpad-like capabilities that lets users trace letters. Active-safety features included adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. A head-up display was also offered.
Lexus retired the front-drive hybrid version of the NX in 2017 and added two new paint colors for the NX F Sport version.
For 2018, the NX gained mildly updated front and rear styling and revisions to its lights, a number of equipment changes, and a new name for its base model. The previous NX 200t became simply the NX 300, with the NX 300h hybrid continuing as before. The NX was largely unchanged for 2019; in 2020, it added Android Auto compatibility. For 2021, the NX gained standard blind-spot monitors.