Sunday, 05 February 2023

2022 Lexus NX plug-in hybrid brings strong styling, new tech, fuel economy Featured

Posted On Saturday, 24 December 2022 03:01 Written by
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The 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ is the first plug-in hybrid offering from the luxury brand The 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ is the first plug-in hybrid offering from the luxury brand Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus is a luxury brand that has long been a supporter of hybrid vehicles, and it recently unveiled its first fully electric vehicle, the RZ 450e.

In the middle of that spectrum of differently powered vehicles is the plug-in hybrid, which embraces a partial EV operation combined with a hybrid setup. Lexus is also pursuing this category, with their first-ever offering being the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+, a plug-in hybrid version of their popular compact SUV.

The 450h+ is part of the second generation of the NX line, which also includes ICE and standard hybrid versions. Plug-in hybrids can help ease worries about range anxiety among buyers, while also allowing them to begin their journey toward fully embracing a true EV.

The luxury battlefield is always intense, and that applies to the electrified/hybrid realm too. So Lexus knows it has to come strong to compete in this sector — where it’s battling brands like Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and more.

I recently spent time in a 2022 NX 450h+ F Sport, and I’m back with a full report on the vehicle, which shares some technology with the nonluxury Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid.

LOOKS

The 2022 Lexus NX lineup features a truly bold exterior design — including the divisive, can’t-miss, right-in-your-face Lexus grille. The F Sport model looks extra sharp with some additional touches of sporty class and a very sharp Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint job. You definitely won’t have trouble finding this bright ride in the parking lot.

Exterior features on my test vehicle included: 20-inch F Sport wheels, LED headlamps and taillamps, black roof rails, F Sport styled grill and bumpers, dark roof rails and window trim, rain-sensing wipers and a sunroof.

The somewhat goofy, push-to-open electronic door handle setup wasn’t something I prefer, but that is a minor quibble.

Moving to the interior, the 2022 NX features a new look highlighted by an updated infotainment system and large touchscreen (more on that later).

In terms of design quality, the NX 450h+ features an ultra-luxe interior design with comfortable and high-quality materials on seating and throughout the vehicle, highlighted by a sharp red and black design.

Cargo space is decent but not among class leaders — coming in at 22.7 cubic feet with rear seats up, 46.9 cubic feet with seats down. Leg room and head room is adequate for all passengers.

Interior features include leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, manual folding 60/40 split rear seat, leather trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and tonneau cover.

If you choose the F Sport model, you’ll get an F Sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, and F Sport front seats with enhanced bolsters.

Other options include illuminated door/cargo sills, and rear/side puddle lamps. And the overall design of the NX lineup allows for a high level of rear visibility (while the excellent surround-view camera will help fill in any visibility gaps).

HOW’S THE RIDE?

In the world of hybrids and EVs, the NX 450h+ F Sport is around middle of the pack in terms of driving excitement. It's not a turtle like some hyper fuel-efficient hybrids can be. But it's not near the lightning fast options on the performance end of the EV market.

The drive is adequate, you get Sport/Normal/Eco drive mode options, and can stay in Sport mode for best overall experience. Zero-to-60 times are under 6 seconds.

A unique shifter design is featured, but drivers will quickly adjust to using it.

Both the base 450h+ and the F sport version feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain including a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine, plus two electric motors, and an 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery, which come together to deliver a total of 304 horsepower. All models are all-wheel drive.

The NX 450h+ handles extremely well on curvy roads, especially the F Sport version due to its adaptive suspension.

Overall, it’s a smooth and enjoyable ride, and handles bumpy roads with ease. And being a plug-in hybrid, the ride is extremely quiet.

Whether driving primarily in the city or on highways, the NX 450h+ will offer a daily driving experience that you'll respect.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Infotainment setup has been a sticky point in the past for Lexus vehicles, but it looks like they’re finally getting the hint and addressing concerns that were expressed over the years about their difficult-to-use mousepad-style controls.

A new touchscreen setup is featured on the 2022 NX lineup, and the system is light years ahead of what it’s replacing. In addition to the improved touch controls, voice commands work excellent for everything from radio to phone to navigation.

The main area of improvement that can be made in future versions is in the climate controls, which are not very intuitive and difficult to operate.

Touchscreen on the NX comes in at either 9.8 inches or 14 inches, depending on the model. I tested a vehicle with the larger 14-inch screen, which was crisp and clear and large enough for all drivers to use comfortably.

Wireless connections for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to mirror their phone, and a wireless smartphone charger is an option. Four USB ports are included, along with 3 free months of satellite radio.

Music lovers can enjoy a standard 10-speaker audio system, or upgrade to the 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system. And the navigation system worked very well in terms of understanding destinations and getting you there in the best way possible.

Lexus also stays high-tech with features such as Lexus Digital Key, which turns your smartphone into the vehicle's key.

With Lexus being a safety leader, a wide variety of safety systems are included with the NX lineup. These systems do an excellent job of keeping you and your family safe, but be aware that some may be overly sensitive at times.

Lexus’ standard safety features include: 

  • Adaptive cruise control (keeps a set distance between you and the car ahead)
  • Forward collision mitigation (warns of impending crash and applies brakes)
  • Lane departure warning (alerts when the NX begins drifting into another lane)
  • Lane keeping assistance (will steer the NX back to the proper lane)
  • Evasive steering assist (collision avoidance)
  • Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning

A surround-view monitor delivers a tremendous view behind you and all around the vehicle when you are maneuvering in tight parking situations. The backup camera features dynamic gridlines that are quite helpful.

There are eight airbags in the NX, and another helpful feature is the head-up display that shares important info directly in the sightline of the driver.


MPG

When using the hybrid power plant only, the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport that I tested officially offers 36 MPG combined city/highway; I was able to confirm those numbers in my real-world testing.

But the fuel mileage number climbs to an impressive 84 MPGe when using the measure that takes into account both electricity and gasoline use.

The NX plug-in hybrid can go up to 37 miles on all-electric power, so realistically if you have a short commute or only do errands around town most days, a simple recharge of the battery each evening will mean that you can go weeks or even months without having to visit a gas station. This is a very enticing offer, and you still have the comfort of knowing the hybrid operation will kick in if you have to drive for longer stretches and run out of juice.

Via a 3.3-kW onboard charger, you can recharge the NX 450h+ overnight using a standard 120-volt household outlet. Or, in around four hours, you can recharge via a 240-volt home charging station or public charger. If you want quicker results, you can upgrade to an optional 6.6-kW onboard charger.

PRICE

Two levels are offered on the NX 450h+ — Base or F Sport Handling.

The 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport that I tested was priced just over $63,000; and the base price on this plug-in hybrid version starts about $58K.

The non plug-in hybrid model starts around $43K, and going for a standard ICE engine pushes the starting price down to $40K at the low end of the NX line.

The plug-in hybrid’s price is an eye-opening number, but other luxury plug-in hybrids can cost much more, so it’s not as outrageous as you might think at first glance — especially when you look at how well equipped the NX comes and its strong potential for Lexus longevity.

A four-year/50K mile basic warranty is included, and the motor has six years/70K miles coverage. The hybrid portion of the power plant gets an 8-year/100K mile coverage, and the battery pack is covered for 10 years/150K miles. These are strong numbers that show Lexus is confident their vehicles will stand the test of time.

BOTTOM LINE

If you are one of those drivers who wants some electric range in a luxury package, but aren't quite ready to commit to a full EV, plug-in hybrids like the Lexus NX 450h+ are vehicles that are made specifically for you.

It features a classy and roomy design, is fuel-efficient, reasonably powerful, plus it comes with an updated tech setup and all the usual Lexus safety features.

Add that all up, and the NX 450h+ is easily one of the best plug-in hybrid vehicle options on the market today.

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Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. His past reviews can all be seen online at autotechreviews.com. Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews.

 

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu



Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport
  • Price as tested: $63,530 (Starts around $58K)
  • Best feature: Fuel economy, design, technology
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury SUV buyers seeking solid EV range from a plug-in hybrid, and a classy and high-tech ride
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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