June 6, 2023

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An Efficient, Safety Orientated, Performance Crossover

An Efficient, Safety Orientated, Performance Crossover
By: James Groth – Review & Photography – Originally For & Partially Featured – Green Car Journal – Location: Phoenix, AZ – The Electrified 2022 Lexus NX Hybrid Line Up
A significant message Lexus is putting out for 2022 is…”over the next four years, half of the twenty new, or updated Lexus models, will be Electrified”.  NX Hybrids are expected to be 23% of those sales.
For the majority of potential owners the winner I believe will be the 350h as its priced $500 below the gas version NX 350. The new pricing strategy will allow more customers to enjoy the benefits of a hybrid powertrain that provides superior mileage, combined EPA MPG 39 over the gas models MPG 25.  The marketing strategy of pricing 350h hybrid models below gas models I believe will be recognized as an industry milestone for converting customers to hybrid technology.
In recent years perhaps many potential buyers of SUV/Crossovers have passed on them due to their handling qualities in high winds and roll-over compared to sedans. Lexus has made the suspension of the 2022 NX a focal point by addressing how suspension affects ride quality, handling, quietness and
overall driver confidence.
Here is how they drove. For the vehicle size class the NX competes in this Crossover/SUV is nimble and very capable on twisty roads. Both the 350h and in particular the 450h+ instilled confidence to take sharp turns at speed without tire scrubbing or excessive lean and body roll.
Ride quality was excellent with no harshness over bumps or rough road surfaces. The cabin remained quite at highway speeds providing a near home environment to enjoy the clarity of the audio system.
Lexus’ redesigned its suspension systems to include Adaptive Variable Suspension on the NX F Sport models. While the NX F Sport was not available at the media presentation I expect it will satisfy owners seeking sports car handling relative to NX’s size. AWD is offered on the 350h and is standard on the 450h+.  AWD is a contributor to the overall handling qualities of the NX and should be a strong  consideration for those dealing with rain and snow.
Power is sourced from four distinct powertrains:
Gas Powered
2.5L 4-cylinder
2.4L  Turbocharged 4-cylinder.
203 hp
275 hp
184 lb-ft torque
317 lb-ft torque
8 speed auto
8 speed auto
AWD standard
Combined EPA MPG 28         Combined EPA MPG 25
0-60 mph 8.2 sec (FWD).       Full time AWD
8.6 sec (AWD)
0-60 mph 6.6 sec
Hybrid Powered
2.5L 4-cylinder Hybrid.          2.5L 4-cylinder
Plug-in Hybrid
239 total system hp               302
total hp
Electronic CVT
Electronic CVT
Combined EPA MPG 39      Combined EPA MPG 84
0-6- mph 7.2 sec
0-60 mph 6.0 sec
EV range 37 miles estimate
The 450h+ is designated by a power budge on the hood to accommodate the 450h+ power plant. Owners will be able to run with and out run some sporty vehicles with 0 to 60 mph performance of six seconds flat in the 450h+.  The 350h comes in at 7.2 seconds which should be competitive but less than the 350 gas that turns a 0-60 mph of 6.6 seconds. All three of these models have the power necessary for safely passing on two lane roads.
The NX 350h has a fourth-generation hybrid drive with a two-motor transaxle/single motor rear differential and utilizes a lithium-ion battery. The 450h+ adds to those specs a 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery allowing for an estimated 37 miles of EV driving range. A full charge is achieved in 2.5 hours from a 240V outlet.  Many owners will appreciate that there is an optional 6.6kW on board charger.
If the latest connected services are a large part of your purchase decision, then NX has to be a top contender. The connected services are in five categories: Drive, Remote, Safety, Wi-Fi and Service. Each of these categories perform four to six unique functions. The connected services include Virtual Assistant. Navigation is cloud-based and Google powered.  The wireless charging is a simple welcome addition. The Lexus Interface has a 10-inch color Head-Up display standard with a 14” touchscreen optional. I found the Head-Up display useful and functional even with a blazing Arizona sun torching the windshield.
The digital rear-view mirror is unique and another of the many very functional safety systems in this newly designed NX 2022 line up. The new safety systems are so numerous that space does not allow me to properly address them. They include Remote Park and in particular Front Cross-Traffic Alert to prevent collisions when making left turns.  I did not have time to adapt to the Panoramic View Monitor display which was a distraction for me.
Digital latches exterior and interior are a first and unique in design and use. Not to worry if the battery dies as you can still open the doors. A power folding rear seat is available. With the front seats set for a six foot driver the rear leg room may be a comprise for some people. Cargo capacity has increased by 14%.  Standard wheels are 18” with 20” optional. To size up matters for your garage here are the critical NX numbers: overall length 183.5”, width 73.4”, height 65.3”.
Eight exterior colors are offered and three additional are exclusive to the F Sport range. There are four interior color offerings for 350h and 450h+ each can be selected in either Nuluxe or leather. The F Sport has two colors but they only come in Nuluxe, there is no leather offering.
For audiophiles there is a1800 watt amp, with 12 channels powering through 17-speakers from premier audio manufacturer, Mark Levinson. This system made me feel as though I were in a theater, watching an action movie. The Mark Levinson systems clarity and reveal will out perform the majority of owners home system. The standard Lexus Premium Audio with 296 watts through 10-speakers has the sound quality to satisfy most owners.
Conclusion: Lexus like all manufacturers designing a new or replacement vehicle study the competitive leaders and look to top or match them. This is what Lexus has done with the new NX by stepping up their game in every category.  They have succeed, in particular in the major categories of Price, Performance, Technology and Safety.  The highlight model in the line for me was the NX 450h+ which I preferred over the larger F Sport RX. Lexus is making the transition into hybrids easier with the ‘Affordability Factor’ as a key element.
NX 250 FWD $37,950  –  NX 250 AWD $39,505  –  NX 350
$41,550  –  NX 350h $41,050  –  NX 450h+ $55,560
P.S. The author also drove the IS 500 on mountain and freeway roads back to the AZ Biltmore. This is one hell of a hot rod with a sleeper 5.0 liter motor pushing out 472 hp through AWD and a taught suspension. The press notes did not show a 0-60 mph, just know this IS 500 accelerates in an instant  rush of power. I was glad I moved to the third lane as I saw the motorcycle cop follow and pull over the Dodge Challenger that passed me …
… notes from The EDJE
TAGS: James Groth, Green Car Journal, NX 250, FWD, Lexus, AWD, NX 350, NX 350h, NX 450h+, IS 500, F Sport, The EDJE

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