The 2022 Lexus NX amps up the pixel count in its quest for crossover street cred. The NX is a five-seat crossover SUV that’s been revamped for the new model year with a dramatic shape, a plug-in hybrid model, and a massive touchscreen-driven infotainment system. It’s a competitor for vehicles like the Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50, and German BMW X3 and M-B GLC SUVs.
Efficient in most of its forms, the 2022 Lexus NX is a comfortable but not sporty choice in a tough segment that includes established European rivals. New touchscreen infotainment keeps up with the times, and the exterior design appeals to those with bolder tastes.
Nearly everything is new for 2022, starting with the shape. The 2022 NX doesn’t stray far from the prior version’s gumbo of creases and slits, but it’s exaggerated in new ways. The hourglass grille dips lower and flares wider, the side glass tapers more dramatically, and the sculpting around the headlights and taillights grows more pronounced. There’s more of a connection with the Lexus SUVs that flank it in size, the subcompact UX and the mid-size RX.
Inside the NX, Lexus wraps and molds the dash around very large touchscreen displays, a standard 9.8-inch unit can be upgraded to a massive 14.0-inch screen, perched on a modish flag of contrast-color trim. The overwhelming technological flourish calls attention to Lexus’ new touchscreen interface, in a big way.
In the performance arena, the NX doles out a foursome of new powertrains. The NX 250’s base engine pushes out 203 hp from 2.5 liters and four cylinders, paired to an 8-speed automatic and front- or all-wheel drive. In the NX 350, a step-up 2.4-liter turbo-4 churns out 275 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. It’s teamed to the same 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
Two alternatives tap electricity for better efficiency. The NX 450h+ teams a 2.5-liter inline-4 with a motor and battery pack for a quicker SUV: It’ll scoot to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, Lexus promises, and will deliver 37 miles of battery-only driving. On a Level 2 charging system, it can be topped off in about 2.5 hours with an available 6.6-kw charger, a 3.3-kw charger comes standard. The hybrids use the rear motor to provide all-wheel drive.
Finally, an NX 350h with hybrid power but without plug-in ability delivers 239 hp and up to 39 mpg. The NX 350h uses an eCVT with 10 simulated gears. An F Sport NX, available in NX 350 or NX 450h+ spec, gets adaptive dampers, its own dark-gray trim, aluminum trim, and 20-inch wheels.
The NX is slightly larger for 2022, which is a boon only to front passenger space. Cargo space actually falls, and it’s on the small side for the class. More sound deadener and standard active noise cancellation make for a quieter vehicle than the outgoing model. Base models come with synthetic leather in black, brown, beige, or red, with a choice of open-pore wood and piano-black trim.
Every 2022 NX comes with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control with steering assistance, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic high beams, and a safe exit system. Available are a rear camera mirror, front cross-traffic alerts, a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, and automatic parking. The IIHS rated it a Top Safety Pick+.
The NX 250 starts at $39,025 with front-wheel drive, with an extra $1,600 for all-wheel drive. It comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery, a 9.8-inch touchscreen, cloud-based navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, streaming Amazon Music and Apple Music, a wi-fi hotspot, satellite radio, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The NX ranges all the way up to $56,635 for the NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid model. Features available on higher end models include the 14.0-inch touchscreen, leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, a Mark Levinson 17-speaker audio system, ambient lighting, and 20-inch wheels. Our biggest gripe is that you can’t get a panoramic sunroof in a $60K SUV.
The all-new for 2022 Lexus NX delights in uncommon ways among a sea of small crossover competition. While competitors have chosen to go bigger over time and prioritize butch off-road looks, Lexus has smartly chosen to make the NX’s unique powertrains, styling, and technology it’s standout features. Add to that refined driving dynamics, legendary Lexus comfort and quality, and it quickly becomes clear why the 2022 Lexus NX is no longer a benchwarmer.