As the march towards electrification continues at Toyota and Lexus, the latter is introducing its first plug-in hybrid model available to consumers: the 2022 NX. It arrives with four models – NX 250, NX 350, NX 350h, and NX450h+ – with new engines, styling, and interior features. Further, come 2022, almost every NX model sold in Canada will also be built there.
Styling-wise, the spindle grille has been enlarged and slightly re-shaped, while the headlights are now a single unit as opposed to the separate DRL/headlight look we had previously. According to Lexus, they are lighter, and they also combine with other front-end design elements to make for a more aerodynamic shape.
This, of course, is important considering that while traditional gas engines will remain in the line-up upon the arrival of the ’22 NX, the big news is that of the four available powertrains, two of those will be hybrids. When we talk hybrids, we’re talking low fuel economy and when we’re talking low fuel economy, we’re talking powertrain characteristics as well as aerodynamic characteristics.
Around back, meanwhile, the new NX eschews the traditional Lexus badge for large “Lexus” scripting all across the rear deck. Another styling signature is the full-width light bar that helps widen the look, and make it appear that the NX is riding lower to the ground. Still, though; there’s little question that this is a high-roofed crossover with occupant comfort first and foremost, although the centre of gravity is lower than previous.
Turning back to the powertrain, we take a look at the new NX 450h+, which is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. Being a PHEV, it gets a large battery which allows it to travel up to 58 kilometres in EV-only mode, and works in conjunction with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine otherwise. That, of course, means that if you work close to your home – actually, you don’t have to be that close – and that’s the route you spend most of your week driving (when your office reopens, of course), you can spend the week in EV-only mode, assuming you can plug-in at night or at the office. Which, considering you’re buying a PHEV, that’s probably a pretty safe assumption. Max charge rate, meanwhile, is through a 240V level II charger
Speaking of safety: Lexus Safety System +3.0 will be included as standard, which includes pedestrian detection, pre-collision assist, adaptive cruise control that will actually slow the car so curves can be taken more comfortably, automatic high-beam and lane keep assist.
At launch, there will be no one-pedal driving – an ever more common occurrence in EVs and PHEVs these days – but other markets will get a kind of semi-autonomous feature, though there are no plans for that in North America just yet. The Adaptive cruise North American NX’s will get, though, can take you all the way down to zero meaning you can use it in stop-and-go traffic, provided you’re willing to lightly tap the throttle to get going again once stopped.
The NX 350h gets a more traditional hybrid powertrain good for a combined 239 horsepower (a 20 per cent increase over the 2021 model) and Lexus is claiming 6.5L/100 km of fuel usage, which represent a 1 L drop over the previous model.
If customers are not yet ready to make the jump to hybrid power, Lexus is offering an NX 350 with a new 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that’s good for 275 hp and 317 pound-feet of torque, fed to all four wheels via a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The entry-level spot in the line-up, meanwhile, is occupied by the NX 250 and its non-turbo 2.5-litre four good for 203 hp and 184 lb-ft. Even this entry level model gets AWD as standard and an eight-speed auto.
Inside, we’re fairly certain that there are many out there that will be happy to hear that the much-maligned touchpad infotainment interface – sounded good in theory, wasn’t really in practice – has been fully eschewed in favour of an all-touch interface that gets a standard 9.8-inch display. Not big enough for you? Then perhaps the optional 14-inch item is more your cup of tea, and there’s also a 7-inch digital gauge cluster and optional 10-inch heads-up display. Want more? There’s a digital rear-view mirror as well. Indeed, that means the NX’s new main display is almost as big as the massive displays seen in the likes of the Ford Mustang Mach-E or Tesla Model Y.
If you want a handling boost to go along with the power, Lexus will be releasing F-Sport versions of both the NX 350 and NX 450h+ versions. It adds active variable suspension and different dampers as well as special sports seats, different steering wheel, special 20” wheels, modified grille and black roof rails.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but we can expect to see that in the coming months closer to production start in Q4 2021.