At long last, Lexus has completely revamped its compact NX SUV. Back in the game, the 2022 Lexus NX 350 brings a potent new engine, fun driving dynamics, more aggressive styling and a signature smooth ride. It’s also fairly quirky, especially on the interior. The new NX is a competitive upgrade over the previous generation, especially with the F Sport trim.
Price and value
The all-wheel drive NX base is reasonably affordable, but the price escalates quickly depending on the trim. The MSRP range for the 2022 Lexus NX is $41,355-$58,995. It is available in six trim levels, with a suite of standard features that includes Lexus’s class leading safety system. Some of the major differences in trim levels are noted below.
- NX 250: $41,355
203 horsepower 4-cylinder engine
0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds
Lexus Safety System+ 3.0
- NX 350: $43,515
275 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds
- NX 350 F Sport: $48,615
20-inch wheels with a gloss black finish
F Sport seats with enhanced bolsters
F Sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension
- NX 350h: $43,105
240 total system horsepower hybrid
0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds
39 mpg combined fuel economy rating
- NX 450h+: $57,705
0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds
14-inch touchscreen display
304 total system horsepower hybrid
- NX 450h+ F Sport: $58,995
Estimated all-electric range of 37 miles
F Sport styling with heated steering wheel
Adaptive variable suspension
The sweet spot for the NX is right in the middle, with the F Sport trim’s 275 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder. The price ticks up quickly with extras, though. Our 350 F Sport tester priced out at $55,510 with options like the F Sport Handling Luxury package, a panoramic view monitor, a panoramic moonroof and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo.
The warranty includes 4-year/50,000-mile basic coverage and 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain coverage. You also get roadside assistance, with lodging if you break down more than 100 miles from home. Lexus even throws in two maintenance visits.
The new Lexus performs just how you’d want, with a few surprises. It is punchier and has better handling than you’d expect, especially with the F Sport’s excellent variable suspension and performance dampers. It’s not much larger than some hot hatches — and feels more akin to them than its compact luxury SUV cohort.
The new, turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is a sweetheart. It produces a healthy 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is more than enough to have fun with. Peak torque comes on low — 1,700 rpms — and stays smooth and drama free throughout its rev band.
With all that torque comes a blow to fuel economy. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. The Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. In our week of real-world testing, we averaged just over 24 mpg.
You have to hand it to Lexus, its engine and drivetrain pairings are on point right now. The 8-speed automatic paired with this engine is excellent. Snappy, quick and smooth, I was impressed. The all-wheel-drive system also worked well, providing grip and confidence, even on rainy days.
Acceleration and handling
The new NX is decently quick, but it’s the torque that you’ll love. Car and Driver clocked the new NX 350 from 0-60 in 6.6 seconds. Handling is sharp, fun and easy thanks to the adaptive dampers, nicely weighted steering and different drive modes. In many ways, it feels like a mature hot hatch. The ride is excellent and never feels too stiff or pillowy.
The brakes offer reassuring stopping power and feel natural in their modulation. The NX 350 F Sport is equipped with automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Interior comfort and convenience
Cabin designers really went for it with the new NX, and it’s possibly one of the quirkiest interiors on the market. First, there’s a huge infotainment screen — larger than some laptops. Then there’s the unique, micro-sized gear selector and button lever door handles. It’s an interesting place to spend time, and it’s probably not for everybody. But, it is comfortable and roomier than expected in the rear. However, some materials feel cheaper than the $55,000 price tag would suggest.
Where some Lexus SUV seats have felt confining in the past, we thought the seats in the 350 F Sport were comfortable. We were surprised to learn that the upholstery is not real leather — it feels high-quality and is plush. The heated and ventilated features worked well and were welcome additions to the overall cabin comfort on chilly mornings and warm afternoons. The rear seat was pretty accommodating, especially for two medium-sized adults.
The NX’s dual-zone HVAC system did a nice job keeping the cabin cool on hot days. Fan noise was reasonable for luxury SUV standards. The controls on the large screen were clear and easy to see, but traditional buttons would probably be easier for most people to use.
Cargo space and cabin storage
Cargo space in the NX is good, especially with its deep underfloor storage compartments in the rear. Having that extra space, in addition to the accommodating cargo area, is perfect for stowing various types of gear and groceries. The rest of the cabin storage is decent, with a center console and nicely sized door pockets.
Lexus has gone to great lengths to revamp its infotainment systems, and for the most part it’s paid off. The system is relatively easy to use, especially once your Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is connected. However, the extra-large screen proved difficult to use while driving. It’s so big that, without any place to rest your hand or arm, it’s a bit challenging to use. It’s just so huge that it overwhelms the rest of the dash, almost to the point of being distracting. It’s a little unsightly and takes away from what should be a luxurious first impression.
Exterior appearance and functionality
All new for 2022, the NX is a looker — especially with the F Sport’s black flourishes. It looks sporty, modern, aggressive and youthful. There are eye-catching design lines that give it a muscle-y look, and the signature Lexus spindle grille is well integrated into the overall look of the front end. It’s a good size, too. In a world where so many SUVs feel bloated, the NX’s smaller packaging adds to its playful personality.
Our tester was finished in an Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint. Other eye-catching colors include Cadmium Orange, Redline and Grecian Blue.
The NX is capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds. Not that you should, given its compact size.
F Sport wheels always look nice, and Lexus’s 20-inch gloss black wheels are a compliment to the exterior styling. The 235/50 R20 all-season tires did a nice job in the heat and the rain, and traction was never lost.
Lights and turn signals
We love LED lights on cars, and thankfully they’re everywhere on the 350 F Sport. Intelligent triple-beam LED headlamps, LED cornering lamps, daytime running lights and an LED taillamp were on our tester and did their job wonderfully. The turn signals also looked sharp and were easy to see from the side and behind.
Cameras and side mirrors
Lexus has done a nice job with its cameras in the NX. Our tester had the $1,060 option for a panoramic view monitor, but we question why it’s not included as a standard feature given the competitiveness of the segment. Regardless, the surround view camera was worth the money. The side mirrors made it easy to see both behind and down the side of the vehicle.
Front and rear windshield
Visibility in the NX is good, although the high beltline impedes views out of the rear windows a bit. The automatic rain-sensing wipers did their job during some stormy days, as did the defrost features when it was foggy.
Lexus has long been known for its safety reputation, and the new NX carries on that legacy. While it might have too much technology for some buyers, and some might find its operations annoying, there’s no question that safety is a priority for this manufacturer.
Lexus is all about the latest in safety technology. A sampling of some of the fancy features found on our tester include:
- Lane change assist
- Front cross-traffic alert
- Dynamic radar cruise control
- Lane departure alert with steering assist
- Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
See a complete list on the Lexus website.
Awards and ratings
The 2022 Lexus NX was awarded one of the highest honors for safety in the industry: a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Car and Driver ranks the NX ninth in its list of compact luxury SUVs.
The 2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport is an excellent entry into the compact luxury SUV segment. It’s fun to drive, fairly luxurious and has a wonderful powertrain you’ll want to keep exercising. We really enjoyed our time with the NX, but it’s not for everyone. The interior is quirky, the screen is distractingly large and some of the materials look and feel mediocre. Lexus also charges extra for features such as a surround view camera, something that should be standard for this price point. Those minor qualms aside, the NX has that unmistakable Lexus smooth quality. It’s a pleasant and practical vehicle for daily driving.
If you’re OK with the mediocre fuel economy, the 350 F Sport trim would be our recommendation. Otherwise, you’ll need to pony up another $5,000-10,000 dollars for the hybrid 450h+ F Sport trim.
Interested in a Lexus NX? Find one on KSL Cars.
Is it fun to drive?
Yes, especially with its torque-y 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. The adaptive suspension and sport dampers are also excellent, as is the taut, nicely weighted steering.
Is it family-friendly?
Sort of. If you have two kids or less, and they aren’t giants, they’ll be comfortable in the rear seat. This is a compact SUV, so don’t set your expectations too high for cargo storage and cabin space.
KSL Cars does not endorse any vehicles. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect the views or opinions of KSL.com or its employees.