MM Review: 2022 Lexus NX350

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MM Review: 2022 Lexus NX350


By request, a Review of the all-new 2022 Lexus NX.

https://www.lexus.com/models/NX

IN A NUTSHELL: Last version quite disappointing….this version somewhat better, but still with some noticeable flaws.

CLOSEST AMERICAN-MARKET COMPETITORS: Buick Envision, Cadillac XT4, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX50, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Lincoln Corsair, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC


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OVERVIEW:

Since this is primarily a Lexus Forum, I had originally intended to write up the new 2022 NX as my Annual-Holiday-Review, last month, for December. But, Lexus, for a number of reasons (perhaps related to production)? delayed the introduction of the new NX, at least into the D.C. area where I live, for about a month or so….January of 2022. As of today (January 19), some gas-powered models are starting to show up at local dealerships, although we’re still on the waiting lists for hybrids. Perhaps it is best that they didn’t introduce a new model right at the holiday season, since most people are busy during December looking at and shopping for other things. Still, even so, the dealership was at today told me there was a pretty fair number of customers waiting who had deposits in (deposits for new NX models, BTW, are $5000 at this dealership). There were a couple of unsold gas models, though, today, available for a test-drive, which I’ll get to later.

I was expecting (and hoping) for something more and better out of Lexus this time, simply because I found the First-Generation NX, introduced late in 2014 for the 2015 model-year, to be unrefined and disappointing. IMO, with its level of road/wind noise, quirky console-controls, and somewhat jittery ride, it was not really worthy of the Lexus name, and perhaps better sold as a Toyota. I actually found the smaller/less-expensive Lexus UX, though somewhat cramped inside for a person my size, and also with quirky console-controls, to have better road-manners than the NX (and I briefly considered a UX when I got my Buick Encore GX, as I felt it was a worthy competitor).

So, when the all-new 2nd-Generation NX debuted this month, I was expecting a lot out of it, especially considering that, as I expected, it was built off of the (IMO-excellent) Toyota Venza/Harrier and its first-rate platform. I had already done an MM Full-Review of the 2nd-Generation Venza, and it was quite a pleasant experience, probably the best new American-market Toyota product I had sampled in years. I said then that it was, IMO, what the last NX should have been, and wasn’t. So, to be honest, I was expecting some of that excellence in the new Venza to rub off on the new NX, which, if anything, would sell for even more money. And, was Lexus successful in producing an upmarket version of the Venza? Yes….and No. That is obviously the subject of the review. I’ll get to the details below.

For 2022, the NX comes in six different versions….NX250 ($37,950 FWD / $39,550 AWD), NX350 AWD ($41,550), NX350 F Sport-Handling AWD ($46,650), NX350h Hybrid AWD ($41,050), NX450 h Hybrid + AWD ($55,650), NX450h Hybrid + F Sport Handling ($56,900). As the trim-names indicate, all come standard with AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) except the base FWD NX 250. NX250 versions come with a normally-aspirated 2.5L in-line four of 203 HP and 184 Ft.-lbs. of torque. Gas-powered NX350 versions come with a turbocharged in-line 2.4L four of 275 HP and 317 Ft-lbs. of torque. NX350 Hybrid models use the base N/A 2.5L 4 and a hybrid electric-drive system of 240 HP. NX450 Hybrid models use the base 2.5L N/A four and an advanced Plug-in-Hybrid electric-drive system with 304 HP. (Toyota and Lexus, for some reason, do not publish total Hybrid torque-figures). Gas-powered models use an 8-speed automatic with paddle-shifters….Hybrids use a CVT with paddle-shifters. There is no full-electric version for now, but one could (?) be offered in the future. If it were me, I’d probably choose the base 250 version with AWD (possibly even the less-expensive FWD version, as recent winters here in the D.C area have not been very severe)…..…but, of course, everyone’s needs and wants are different.

As previously mentioned, there were a couple of unsold models on the lot that could be test-driven. I chose an AWD NX350 model with the Premium Package and the ever-popular Atomic Silver Color. Since there was only a couple of NXs on the lot, the dealership didn’t allow quite a long enough test drive for an entire MM Full-Review, but I got enough experience on the road to have a pretty good idea of the vehicle’s road-manners on different surfaces, and enough for a general write-up. Overall, I was more pleased with this 2nd-Generation NX than the first one, but IMO it still had some flaws….and wasn’t quite the equal of the new Venza. Details coming up.



MODEL REVIEWED: 2022 Lexus NX350 AWD

BASE PRICE: $41,550

OPTIONS:

Premium Package: $3050

Heated-steering-wheel, Windshield Wiper De-icer, Fast-response interior heater: $250

Thematic-Ambient-Illumination: $100

14-inch Multimedia touchscreen display, Drive-Connect with Cloud Navigation, Intelligent-Assist/Hey Lexus (Yes, that’s what Lexus calls it LOL), Destination-Assist: $1105

2000-Lb. Towing-Capacity: $160

Lexus-Digital-Key, SmartAccess key, wireless charger: $450

3M Door-edge film: $95

Cargo-Net: $75

Key-Gloves with Lexus Logo: $25

Alloy-Wheel-Locks: $95

Delivery processing/handling: $1075 (actually, this figure is not too bad compared to what some manufacturers are charging for this today)

LIST PRICE AS REVIEWED: $48,030



EXTERIOR COLOR: Atomic Silver (IMO one of the best Lexus colors)

INTERIOR: Palomino (Tan) NuLuxe/Black-Prism Trim



DRIVETRAIN: AWD, 2.4L Turbocharged in-line 4, 275 HP (RPM not published by Lexus), 317 Ft-lbs. of Torque at 1700-3600 RPM, 8-speed Sequential-Shift automatic transmission with paddle-shifters.

EPA MILEAGE RATING: 22 City, 29 Highway, 25 Combined



PLUSSES:

Lexus history of (mostly) well-above-average reliability.

6/70 Drivetrain and 4/50 Bumper-To-Bumper warranties fitting for the class.

This particular dealership willing to sell at list price.

Competent and well-designed powertrain.

Butter-smooth transmission.

Good road and wind-noise isolation…...a noticeable improvement over the last version.

Always-well-done NuLuxe leather-substitute upholstery inside.

Interior Touch-Screen an improvement on the old mouse-control.

Nice paint-color options….only a couple of them cost extra.

The usual excellent Lexus paint-job.

Gas struts underhood……no manual prop-rod.

First Aid Kit included in the trunk.

Good exterior/interior fit/finish.



MINUSES:

Higher-Line versions rather pricey for a CUV this size.

Not much of an exterior style-change for the new 2022 generation.

Jumbled underhood layout.

Poorly-designed (IMO) electronic shifter.

Jumpy throttle from rest in Sport-Mode.

Some cheap-looking/feeling interior parts.

(IMO) Unimpressive dash/console trim inside.

Low ceiling cutouts inside with the optional sunroof.

Run-Flat tires stiffen the ride-quality some.

Quirky and confusing electronic inside door-releases.





EXTERIOR:

There’s not really much difference at all between the exterior of the former 1st-Generation NX and the new 2nd-Generation, particularly for an all-new design and not just a simple face-lift. The general shape/profile of the two generations is very similar……in fact, almost identical when looking at them at more then just a few feet away. Both have the same raked-roofline, belt-upsweep behind the rear doors, sharply-raked windshield, and, of course, the same oversized, In-Your-Face Lexus Spindle-Grille. While I have my own personal opinion of the spindle-grilles, those grilles have been polarizing for years……some people love them, others hate them, so I won’t get into that any further here, as styling is subjective.

The only noticeable differences I could see between the old and new exteriors is some pockets/creases under the headlights, the full-width taillights on the hatch-lid of new version, and that the old version trades its mechanical door-locks/handles for new electronic push-button ones. That may or may not why the doors on the new ones feel and sound tinny when you open or close them….the new doors have a very light and un-secure feel when shut and latched. (More on this in my interior comments, below). One other thing I liked about the exterior is that Lexus, with its cold-weather options, includes an electrically-heated windshield-wiper de-icer (my test-vehicle had that option)….but I’d also point out that a similar feature came on my Subaru Outback over 15 years ago, at barely half of this NX’s price, and was standard. (But, in all fairness, Subaru has done a lot of cost-cutting since then…I probably wouldn’t buy one of their latest models). As with the smaller Lexus UX, the new NX, more so than the last one, comes wth some nice paint-color options….I personally liked the bright Mariner/Electric Blue, the Orange, the dark olive-green, and the always-popular Atomic Silver, a superb blend of silver and titanium textures. Run-Flat tires now come standard on the NX.



UNDERHOOD:

Open the decently-solid-feeling hood, and two nice gas struts hold it up….no cheap manual prop-rod. On the underside of the hood is the usual insulation pad. There is adequate room for the 2.4L turbo-four itself to fit in, but a jumbled maze of hoses, tubes, ducts, assorted hardware, and the plastic engine-cover makes may of the engine components hard to reach. The battery, which, with the 2.4L turbo engine, is just to the rear and right of the engine-block, is also partly down in a maze of tubes and hardware, but at least it is uncovered, and the terminals accessible. The oil dipstick, fluid-reservoirs, and filler-caps are readily accessible.



INTERIOR:

As with several other recent Lexus products, I personally found the interior somewhat lacking in its design and materials, with some notable exceptions that were well-done. The Camel-Tan-colored NuLuxe Leather-substitute upholstery on the seats is always excellent (and, yes, the cows would agree LOL)…this is one area, along with exterior paint-gloss, where Lexus is among the auto-industry-leaders. The former exasperating video-screen mouse-type-controller on the console (just try to use it on a bumpy road) has ben replaced by a new touch-screen that is far more responsive, although I found its menus and icon-arrangements quite complex and confusing, especially compared to the much more straightforward GM systems. The color and graphics, though, on the screen itself are excellent, as was the stereo sound quality…..perhaps not surprising there, since this vehicle had the Premium package. The primary instruments on the dash were generally easy to read and well-detailed in their graphics. The Infotainment system, of course, has all of the features that expected in today’s premium-vehicle class, so I won’t bother to list them here one by one. The steering wheel (with an optional heater-package) was well-done and comfortable to hold. And the fit/assembly-quality of the interior parts, in general, were the usual Lexus first-rate.

But there were also a number of things inside that I was not impressed with, and, IMO, were not befitting a vehicle of this price. Most of the materials inside, except for the shiny piano-black plastic trim on the console, had a dull, somewhat cheap look to them. There was very little use of chrome or brushed-metal, and no wood-tone trim at all that I could see. The electronic inside door-lock buttons are small and confusing……they are mounted on small bars that look like the usual pull-out handles, but aren’t….in fact, the sales reps told me that if you DO pull out on the grip, you could damage it. Instead, you push on a tiny button that just about fits the tip of your finger……it electronically unlatches a somewhat flimsy-feeling door-lock mechanism compared to the former more-solid hardware. Shut the door, and it likewise doesn’t have as solid a feeling as the last one with is conventional door-latch hardware.

Equally-poorly-designed, IMO, is the new electronic stub-stick on the console for the transmission. It is a very small shift lever, seemingly designed more for children than adults, and, although it operates with a butter-smooth glide-action, the lever itself sits in the center of the quadrant, and you have to move it to the left and up/down for whatever hear you want to be in. If you simply bump it forward or back like most drivers instinctively do with most levers, you get no response. PARK is a separate push-button next to the lever, as is the button for the electronic parking-brake. Lexus is not alone in some of these E-quirks for the shift-lever….In all honesty, the GM-designed one in my former Buick Lacrosse wasn’t any better, and could be confusing in some modes.

The seats are generally comfortable, particularly with the excellent NuLuxe upholstery, and front and rear legroom was reasonable for a crossover this size, although you won’t want to try and carry any NBA-guys in back. With the optional power sunroof, headroom up front was OK for a person my size (6’ 2”) if you drop the power-seats down low enough. The way the ceiling and roof/hardware is designed, there are a couple of notable sections in the ceiling that bulge down more than usual, but it was compensated with raised-areas that, somehow, didn’t seem to impact on rear headroom that much. I could sit in back OK, but, again, you won’t want to carry any NBA-guys under that ceiling.

So, inside, compared to the last NX, several improvements, but also several significant faults.



CARGO COMPARTMENT/TRUNK:

Open the rear hatch-lid, which you can do by the usual ways….key-fob, cabin-switch, an electronic switch on the lid itself, or by the under-bumper kick with the foot, and the cargo area is reasonably-sized, but somewhat compromised in height by the sharply-raked roofline. The black carpet used on the floor panel is OK, but doesn’t seem quite as thick or as plush-feeling as I remember on some past Lexus models. In the left-side wall, held in by a strap/net, is the ubiquitous Lexus First-Aid Kit…a tradition on Lexus products going back a number of years. The split-folding rear seats, of course, like with all crossovers, fold down to increase the available cargo room. A cargo-cover helps protect prying eyes from your valuables in the cargo area. Under the floor-panel are a couple of molded removable storage-bins……as mentioned above, there is no spare tire or jack because of the standard Run-Flat tires. It’s unclear whether this is a cost-cutting move by Lexus or not, or a move simply to save space in the cargo area, since Run-Flat tires generally cost more than conventional ones, but, at the same time, the cost of the jack and/or air-compressor battles is eliminated. I myself am a firm believer in real spares, and, if not a real spare (which most vehicles no longer have), at least a temporary one…..Run-flats are generally limited to about 50 miles or so.



ON THE ROAD:

I didn’t get quite as long a test-drive as I would have liked over a number of different roads, but I did get enough of one to get a pretty good idea of what the vehicle feels like and its basic road-manners. Overall, a significant improvement over the disappointing 1st-Generation model. The turbo in-line four even with the added weight/drag of AWD, has more than enough power and torque for most any normal driving, at least lightly-loaded like I had it. The engine is smooth/quiet/refined in the usual Lexus manner, as is the 8-speed automatic transmission with its smooth/refined shifts and almost instantaneous response….at least the awkward shift-lever had no lag in gear-response when you shift. A dash-switch changes the drive mode to ECO/NORMAL/SPORT……the sport-mode changes the shift-programming and throttle-response significantly, especially starting from rest, where the throttle can feel jumpy and too sensitive. Wind and road-noise isolation, even with the Run-Flat tires, is substantially better than on the former version, and was actually quite good on the surfaces I was able to drive on. The Run-Flats, however, do stiffen the ride-comfort up a little from where it would probably be with conventional tires, but the ride is not what I would call uncomfortable. The NX, of course, is not a sports-car, but, for a small-to-medium-size crossover, handles decently well in its standard layout…..I did not sample the F-Sport model, but it would probably be a little more responsive in the steering and perhaps with less body roll. Brakes were OK, with no problems that I could notice, and my big Size-15 clown-shoes had no apparent problems going from uneven brake/gas-pedal heights that they do in some vehicles.



THE VERDICT:

The latest NX is, as expected, an improvement over the former one in several ways, particularly in noise-isolation, concert-grade stereo, the abolishment of the mouse-controller, excellent NuLuxe seat-covers, and in having a refined and competent drive-train. But it also, IMO, has notable flaws…..some cheap-looking interior trim, poorly-designed E-shifter, flimsy and hard-to-use electronic door locks, a touch-screen that is somewhat more complex than it could have been, and standard Run-Flat tires that add some stiffness (even if just a little ) to the ride.

Indeed if it was my money, I would probably choose the less-expensive Toyota Venza Hybrid, which I was VERY impressed with when I did my full-review of it. The Venza gives better mileage (at least until the NX Hybrids debut later), has the same good overall quality and fit/finish as the NX, has IMO better trim inside than the NX’s cheaper-looking materials, has better-designed controls, and, because the Venza I drove did not come with Run-Flat tires, was at least a little more supple on the ride, and the same excellent refinement in its road manners. But, of course, The NX provides a longer warranty, the cache of the Lexus nameplate, the excellent Lexus dealer service/customer perks, and the promise of even better reliability. But, my choice?……the Venza, although that could (?) change if or when when I sample a new NX hybrid.

And, as always......Happy car-shopping.
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MM











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Gecko

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Hi @mmcartalk - I moved this from The Garage to the Lexus Lounge for you since it's a review of the NX.
 

mmcartalk

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Hi @mmcartalk - I moved this from The Garage to the Lexus Lounge for you since it's a review of the NX.
OK, if that's what you prefer. I usually post my automotive write-ups in the Garage, but if you want the Lexus write-ups in the Lexus sub-forums, so be it.

The same for the "Toyota Planet" sub-forum, I'd guess?
 

Will1991

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@mmcartalk it seems a bit harder review on the 2022 NX, what would be your pick on this segment (outside the Venza since it's not a premium brand)?
 

Gecko

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We just added two Venza Limiteds to the family in the last three weeks. I like the new NX a lot, but do agree that for ~$44k, the Venza is quite similar and a ton of value for the money.

The most attractive NX to me is the 350h but there are a bunch of oddities like you can't get Levinson with the Luxury package, you have to get the premium package to get Levinson (so no leather), some packages allow you to get the 14" screen and some don't, panoramic roof is also weirdly allowed on some packages and not others, etc. Typical strange Lexus work on packaging and options.

Not saying the Venza is as "good" or luxurious as the NX, but getting 12.3" screen, panoramic Stargaze roof and JBL audio all in one package with no questions asked is really nice and feels like you can get everything you want. Not so in the NX. And the NX is about $10k more when similarly equipped.

Still a lot of love for the NX from me, regardless.
 

mmcartalk

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@mmcartalk it seems a bit harder review on the 2022 NX, what would be your pick on this segment?

I haven't done a review or test-drive of all the examples in this segment, but, from those I have sampled, I think the Buick Envision is the best value for the money (and among the most comfortable), the Genesis GV70 the most well-built one and solidly-screwed together, the Lincoln Corsair has arguably the best interior (but poor quality-control), and the Mercedes is probably the most well-engineered. The Cadillac XT4 and Range Rover Evoque do not impress me.....IMO, both are awkwardly-styled, have confusing controls/shifters, and poor reliability.
 

NXracer

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I haven't done a review or test-drive of all the examples in this segment, but, from those I have sampled, I think the Buick Envision is the best value for the money (and among the most comfortable), the Genesis GV70 the most well-built one and solidly-screwed together, the Lincoln Corsair has arguably the best interior (but poor quality-control), and the Mercedes is probably the most well-engineered. The Cadillac XT4 and Range Rover Evoque do not impress me.....IMO, both are awkwardly-styled, have confusing controls/shifters, and poor reliability.
How are the new genesis products long term? Hyundai + Kia engines concern me with their TSBs, recalls, and warranty extensions.
 

mmcartalk

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How are the new genesis products long term? Hyundai + Kia engines concern me with their TSBs, recalls, and warranty extensions.


The GV70, IMO, hasn't been on the market long enough to judge it long-term (and, of course, electrical/engine fires have been a problem on some Hyundai/Genesis products). But, from what I have seen (and I did a full-review of it)...I like the way it comes from the factory in terms of how well it seems screwed-together, although, even there, like the larger GV80, its door/sheet-metal/hardware doesn't seem quite as solid as the previous-generation of Genesis sedans. But the difference is minimal, and Hyundai/Kia/Genesis, IMO, is still one of the best manufacturers today in terms of initial-quality.