2022 Lexus NX Review: Pick Your Posion - With Mixed Results

2022 Lexus NX 250
Lexus designers have changed up the SUV's grille for the new generation but kept it large. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

For much of the last half-decade, Lexus has been sticking to a formula, making vehicles that are perfectly fine for their price point and have high predicted reliability but are dragged down by their infotainment system. The 2022 Lexus NX looks to break that formula, and it does, but not with completely satisfying results.

Lexus, the premium arm of Toyota, completely redesigned the NX for the 2022 model year, changing it from head to toe. It has many firsts for the company including a plug-in hybrid variant and freshly designed and engineered infotainment system. Some of the changes made it substantially better, with few regressions.

The NX looks good, firmly in its design slot between the smaller Lexus UX and larger Lexus RX. The redesign isn't earth shattering, but it is a step forward with more changes to the model evident when you see a first-generation model next to the new second-gen.

There's current Lexus design language and corresponding technology infused throughout the model like with the L-shaped daytime running lights that are available to be paired with three-projector headlamps.

At its rear, the Lexus undergoes its most striking exterior change with new full-width blade taillights and "Lexus" branding across the liftgate. This follows in the design footsteps of the new Jeep Wagoneer, Jeep Grand Wagoneer and Nissan Pathfinder.

Gone are the days when the hybrid would be the most sluggish of an automaker's offerings. The new SUV is sold in NX 250, NX 350, NX 350h, NX 350 F Sport, NX 450h+ and NX 450h+ F Sport variations. Each, respectively, has an increasing amount of horsepower from the one below it with the NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid yielding the zippiest drive of the lot.

2022 Lexus NX 250
The word "Lexus" is affixed to the rear of the vehicle. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The NX 250 and 350h deliver performance that is perfectly suitable for around-town driving.

The NX 350h is impressively more fuel efficient than the NX 250, getting an EPA-estimated 39 mpg combined verses the NX 250's 28 mpg.

Opting for the NX 350 will provide the driver with a slightly better power-to-weight ratio than the hybrid model thanks to its turbocharger, yielding better performance at the cost of less efficiency.

The NX 350 F Sport is a truly dynamic take on the small SUV. Its standard adaptive variable suspension and all-wheel drive make this the model to get if you live where there are curvy roads or you like pushing the speed limit. It's the most stable of the lot and delivers the sportiest performance overall.

The two versions of the NX 450h+ are the most powerful of the lot. However, their large battery makes the car only marginally better than the 350h in terms of handling. The biggest reason to opt for the NX 450h+ is what holds it back. That battery allows for up to 37 miles of all-electric range (550 miles of range total) and runs as a hybrid when the charge is low.

Lexus NX 450h+ models are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). They have a power port on the side that allows owners to plug them in to charge. When doing so, the car's battery gains all-electric range.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+
The Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport gets an aggressive exterior treatment. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The NX 450h+ SUV also has a 14.8-gallon gas tank that provides power to the car's engine. Owners do not have to plug in the vehicle, but severely limit the amount of all-electric power the PHEV will use if they do not as the car's regenerative braking and electric motor are only able to harvest a small amount of electric power while on the go.

Like the exterior of the SUV, the interior is not a drastic change from other Lexus models. It holds true to its familial styling while having a fresh steering wheel, shifter and switchgear. It's all housed with piano black plastic surrounds, which allow dust and fingerprints to gather in abundance.

The showstopper of the Lexus NX is its new standard 9.8-inch infotainment screen (a 14-inch screen is available). There's no touchpad here, just a simple, easy-to-use touch screen. Finally. It's not as responsive as screens in Hyundai and Kia vehicles, but the sheer fact that there's no track pad is enough to make its failings easier to swallow.

Backed by new Toyota software, the screen is intuitive though its navigation system could stand to have a little TLC. Thanks to over-the-air update capabilities, Toyota simply needs to push updates to the vehicle for things like navigation and it can be remedied in a jiffy (as long as they are able to initiate a fix).

Buyers not opting for navigation may be unhappy to discover that the standard wireless Apple CarPlay isn't keen to stay connected to the infotainment system or charge via the SUV's wireless charging pad. There's a fix in the works, a company representative told Newsweek and, to be fair, other automakers are having similar issues. Wireless Android Auto is standard as well.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
The 2022 Lexus NX is available with red upholstery. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The new NX has more cargo space than the previous model and improved passenger space. It continues to feel spacious and has enough room for a family of four's road trip luggage.

Fit and finish is typical of Lexus. Materials don't stray too far from the common themes, colorways or materials that are currently available throughout the company's lineup. That's not a bad thing, but it does fall short of the niceness of Acura's newest models.

Lexus equips each NX with its Safety System+ 3.0, a suite of safety and driver assist technology that includes emergency steering assist, road sign assist, pre-collision alert, land departure warning, automatic high beams, pedestrian and cyclist collision avoidance detection with assist, adaptive cruise control with curve speed management.

With the NX, Lexus has a winner. But, not all grades are created equal. There's a sacrifice to be made on each one, which makes test driving the NX crucial to the decision making process. There are two places where drivers don't have to compromise - safety and space.

2022 Lexus NX 450h+
The Lexus NX has improved cargo space over the last-generation model. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Whether your budget is near the NX's starting price of $37,950 or closer to the NX 450h+'s near-$60,000 price tag all in, the Lexus NX lineup offers a number of compelling reason to take a test drive.