Preview: 2022 Lexus NX leads a youth movement with hybrid options, new infotainment

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The redesigned 2022 Lexus NX ushers Toyota’s luxury brand into a new era defined by more than a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The luxury compact crossover showcases the most significant and overdue update to the brand: a new touchscreen interface.

The 2022 Lexus NX made its world debut late Friday with four new powertrains, a fresh look inside and out, and the latest technology crowned by an available 14.0-inch touchscreen developed in-house at Toyota Motors North America. 

“Our previous multimedia systems were developed in Japan,” Steve Basra, group vice president of TMNA Connected Technologies, said in a press conference the week before the launch. “The customer experience in Japan is not necessarily the same customer experience that we should have in the U.S.”

2022 Lexus NX

2022 Lexus NX

The Lexus Interface multimedia system will “fit into the lives of Gen Y customers,” Basra said, and broaden the appeal of Lexus to a new generation of customers. The broad display addresses one of the biggest shortcomings of Lexus and Toyota vehicles, according to J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Surveys. It replaces a frustrating console touchpad.

Debuting on the 2022 Lexus NX, Lexus Interface comes standard with a 9.8-inch touchscreen or the larger landscape-oriented 14.0-inch screen canted toward the driver. A volume knob and HVAC buttons remain, but tuning is relegated to the screen, steering wheel controls, or natural voice commands. It comes with cloud-based mapping and over-the-air updates, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The user can set profiles with personalized seat, climate, and media settings that will transfer from one Lexus vehicle to another. 

While Lexus Interface will trickle down to subsequent Lexus and Toyota vehicles, its debut in the 2022 NX reflects the sweeping updates meant to revitalize the brand. 

The second-generation NX sports a new look headlined by a taller, broader spindle grille pinched near the top. Daytime running lights move from below to above the standard LED headlights, and the lower airtakes take on larger proportions. In back, a full-width taillight crosses over the Lexus name stamped on the liftgate in place of the L-shaped logo.

2022 Lexus NX 450h

2022 Lexus NX 450h

2022 Lexus NX 450h

2022 Lexus NX 450h

2022 Lexus NX 350

2022 Lexus NX 350

2022 Lexus NX 350

2022 Lexus NX 350

Four new powertrains move the five-passenger 2022 NX. The base 2022 NX 250 employs a basic 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The uprated NX 350 has a 2.4-liter turbo-4 that makes 275 hp and 317 lb-ft, and Lexus claims it can go 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Both four-cylinder engines come with an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive or  available all-wheel drive.

Even though Lexus expects the NX 350 to account for at least one quarter of sales, it is not the most potent powertrain. That comes from the Lexus NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid that ties a 2.5-liter inline-4 with a battery-powered motor on the rear axle for all-wheel drive. Mechanically similar to the Toyota RAV4 Prime, the NX 450h+ hits 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, or it can deliver 36 miles of battery-only driving. Lexus didn’t release power figures but said it would reveal specs closer to its launch later this year. On a Level 2 charging system with a current of 240 volts, it can be topped off in about 2.5 hours with an available 6.6-kw on-board charger (a 3.3-kw charger comes standard). 

A more traditional hybrid powers the NX 350h, which gets an estimated 36 mpg highway, or 6 mpg more than the 2021 Lexus NX 350h. It has a 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid system with two motors that make 239 hp total with standard AWD. Its eCVT simulates shifting through 10 gears, and Lexus quotes its 0-60 mph time at 7.2 seconds. 

Lexus says more torsional rigidity limits lateral movement and improves aerodynamics over the outgoing model.

2022 Lexus NX

2022 Lexus NX

For better handling, shoppers can opt for an F Sport Handling package on NX 350 and NX 450h+ models. It comes with adaptive dampers, sport seats, 20-inch black alloy wheels, and other cosmetic upgrades.

Lexus hasn’t released cargo and passenger dimensions, or the full feature set and pricing. Riding on a new global platform shared with everything from the 2021 Lexus ES to the 2021 Toyota Highlander, the 2022 NX features more head room, leg room, and cargo room than the outgoing model, according to Lexus. 

Every 2022 NX comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high beams. A rear camera mirror and head-up display are available.

Heated front seats come standard, as do synthetic leather upholstery and keyless entry for all four doors. Smart door handles called Digital Latch prevent the passengers from opening the doors if the blind-spot monitors detect a passing car, cyclist, or runner going more than 5 mph. 

The 2022 Lexus NX goes on sale in late 2021.

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