Lexus understands the importance of a good makeover.
When you’ve done a pretty darn good job building a car — just like when you found that one haircut you just adore — it can be hard to change. But the introduction of the Lexus NX proves that, sometimes, the best thing for you is a whole new ‘do. And maybe a skincare routine refresh. And while we’re at it, why don’t we invest in some new eyeliner, too?
Lexus went out of its way to completely redevelop the NX, from the chassis to the engine options to the technology, to the point where this compact luxury SUV is going to feel like nothing else you’ve ever driven before — in the best possible way.
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A Brand-New Car from the Ground Up
You can tell Lexus is serious about its newly redesigned NX because the company has quite literally rebuilt it from the ground up. The chassis is new and provides a lower center of gravity with a stronger stance that will improve the ride but also just look confident. After all, there are three different powertrain options (which we’ll get to), so there has to be space for change!
On the exterior, the hourglass-shaped grille has been tightened up so that it feels more integrated into the overall car design while still adding character and depth. The checkmark-style headlights add to the distinct features of the front and totally changes the look of the whole car. Have you ever tried a cat-eye eyeliner style after years of a basic line? Your whole face looks different. And that’s what’s happening with the Lexus NX.
On the interior, Lexus finally feels like it has designed a car for the modern era, which is important. Lexus reps really impressed upon us during a media event that the goal here is to appeal to younger generations—you know, people who might be buying their first luxury car. Everything inside now feels fresh, modern, and easy to use — but, again, we’ll dive into that in a moment.
Model Names to Know
You can think of the Lexus NX as a base on which the brand intends to build other options for a more customizable experience, which results in some specific number designations. So, if you want the Lexus NX with the hybrid engine, it’ll have a different number designation than the plug-in hybrid. Here’s a quick breakdown of the options you’ll have:
- Lexus NX 350: This is the turbo gasoline engined vehicle. It features a 2.4 liter turbo engine that makes 275 horsepower and 317 lb-fit of torque, which are comparable numbers to other luxury crossovers in the segment.
- Lexus NX 350h: Here, the ‘h’ at the end of the number tag designates the hybrid option. That hybrid makes for better fuel economy (36 mpg combined compared to 30 for the standard NX 350) and more power: the hybrid 2.5-liter engine paired to two electric motors makes 239 horsepower and a whole lot of torque for improved passing, acceleration, and traction.
- Lexus NX 450h+: The ‘h+’ on the number tag here designates the plug-in hybrid option, which means drivers will have access to 36 miles of pure electric range before their gas engine kicks in. It’s paired to a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and an electric battery that can be charged in as little as 2.5 hours.
You also have an optional F Sport package that you can add to the 350 and 450h+ models, which includes:
- Sporty black and red interior
- Sporty bucket seats
- Active variable suspension for a better-handling ride
- Graphite-look ornamentation
- An all-new wheel, aluminum pedals, and scuff plates
- 20-inch aluminum wheels and black roof rails
- Special F Sport colors
- 14-inch touchscreen, special headlamps, and 64-color LED illumination on the Luxury package
Technology to Take You Into the Future
Part of Lexus’ new makeover is a brand new infotainment system called Lexus Interface. You have multiple touchscreen options that range from 8- to 14-inches, all of which are angled ever so slightly toward the driver for easy access. And it has so many amazing features that you’re going to fall head over heels.
I had a chance to watch Lexus product developers walk us through different features of the new infotainment system, and I have to say—it was exceptional. Lexus’ current infotainment system uses a difficult-to-use touchpad like the one on your laptop, which is now a thing of the past. In its place is a large, intuitive, and customizable touch screen. Quick-access buttons to frequently-used apps like navigation, music, and climate controls line the left-hand side of the screen, making them easily available to drivers. It’s also really easy to scroll through music options without having to take your eyes off the road, which is always a bonus.
Easily one of the most helpful features here, though, is that it contains a cloud-based navigation system. What does that mean? Instead of the car coming with a pre-programmed set of roads and directions in the map (which can become quickly outdated), the car can access the most recent, up-to-date navigation information, which includes traffic info and even road closures that may have happened overnight. It only takes a few seconds to load up the navigation, too, so you don’t have to worry about having delays when you’re on the go.
Other awesome features include:
- Google points of interest, so you can always find coffee, gas, or a hotel when you need it. This also includes extra information like operating hours, phone number, and more.
- Virtual Assistant, which is a customizable voice-activated system that not only responds to natural speech but walks you through your options. So, you can offer the command, “Hey, I want a coffee,” and the virtual assistant will pull up the nearest coffee shops, then ask you if you’d like to go to the closest. If you say no, it’ll ask you about the next option, and so on.
- User Profiles, which you can create and access via a Bluetooth device like your phone. Basically, you can customize your experience, including the layout of your infotainment system, your ideal interior light settings, climate, seat position, and more — and you can access those settings in any Lexus car that offers this new infotainment system. Not bad!
- Digital Key, which can be shared with seven different people. When your phone is close to the car, it automatically unlocks.
- Sirius XM is standard
- Apple Music and Amazon Music are both built into the car, so you can access your favorite playlists without having to pair your device
- Standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
I know it sounds too good to be true, but trust me: this is real life! Once you try the new Lexus Interface, I don’t think you’ll ever want to go back.
Electrified Options? Yes, Please!
I attended a Lexus event at the Toyota headquarters in Plano, Texas, and there was one thing every representative repeated countless times: Toyota and Lexus are planning to over electrified options on tons of the new models it puts out from now until 2025. That doesn’t mean fully electric cars, though there will be some — instead, the two brands are focusing on electrification as an intermediate step between fully-gasoline engines and fully-electric motors.
The Lexus NX is the flagship of the future, which is why it comes with three different power options: a conventional engine, a hybrid engine, and a plug-in hybrid system. That’s going to be how Lexus and Toyota structure many of their new releases in the coming years. You get options as the world begins to evolve.
And Yes, Safety
No new car would be complete without a suite of safety features that are designed to make driving a peaceful experience. The 2022 Lexus NX features include:
- Collision avoidance, which nudges your steering and taps the brakes automatically when a crash is detected
- Pre-collision detection, which helps you avoid accidents
- Left turn assurance, so if an oncoming car is heading toward you, your Lexus NX will automatically brake
- Pedestrian/cyclist detection, both when turning and when driving near intersections
- Automatic emergency braking if you’re approaching a car too quickly
- Dynamic radar cruise control that manages speed on both straight highways and curves
- Road sign recognition, which will be displayed on the instrument panel or head-up display
- Lane-keep assist
- Intelligent high beams, which automatically dim when they sense the headlights of an oncoming driver
- Digital latch, which opens your doors with just one touch
- Safe exit assist, which will prevent you from opening a door if there’s a cyclist, car, or pedestrian about to be hit
- Digital rearview mirror
Fast Facts to Know
- Production will start in the third quarter of 2021
- Pricing will be announced closer to that date; it’s hard to estimate a price range because this car is so new, but the previous NX started at $38,000. We expect a slightly more expensive base model with so much new technology and development.
- Packages and trims will also be announced closer to that date
- You’ll find more storage and head/leg space in the new Lexus NX