2022 Lexus NX Debuts With New Plug-In Hybrid And Turbo Powertrains, Fresh Styling And More Tech: Video

Both a 2.4-liter turbo and a RAV4 Prime-based plug-in hybrid join the range

After six years in its previous generation, the Lexus NX was due for an update. (Images: Lexus)

The second-generation Lexus NX hits dealers this fall.

While the three-row, family-focused RX is the best seller in Lexus’ crossover lineup, the NX is the brand’s crucial contender against the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Acura RDX, among others. That means the 2022 Lexus NX had to play it smart with new styling, tech and powertrain upgrades, and the team behind this car hit on all three of those areas. There are new engines to the range — namely a new turbocharged engine for the NX 350 and the NX 450h+ as a plug-in hybrid variant.

The range kicks off with a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder in the NX 250. That model uses the same engine and transmission as the RAV4, putting out 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque to either the front or all four wheels. The mid-range 2022 Lexus NX 350h uses a 2.5-liter engine in tandem with two electric motors, putting out 239 combined horsepower, and managing a Lexus-estimated 36 MPG. Here, at least, we do see a fairly substantial 20 horsepower bump over the RAV4 Hybrid.

As for the conventional gas-powered NX 350, a 2.4-liter turbo four-cylinder replaces the old 2.0-liter unit in the lineup. It’s the second most powerful option, putting out 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, mated up to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Finally, the RAV4 Prime-based NX 450h+ manages 302 horsepower, as well as 36 miles of pure-electric range.

Sharper exterior styling

Revolutionary styling isn’t typically Lexus’ way, and that’s the case with the updated NX. It will look familiar, but there are plenty of notable attention to detail touches that will draw your eye in over the old model. Up front, the daytime running lights are integrated into the headlights as a single unit, ditching the old styling where they were a separate piece. The spindle grille remains, although I’d argue it’s a bit more restrained than before. In the 2022 Lexus NX, at least, it seems to be a more cohesive part of the overall design.

The side profile isn’t radically different to what came before, but you do see some bigger changes out back. Lexus uses a letter script across the tailgate in place of the brand logo, while the updated LED taillights stretch all the way across the car — a more common theme in new designs over the past few years.

Of course, the F Sport trim is still an option, available on both NX 350 and NX 450h+ models. That adds some black trim touches, 20-inch wheels and adaptive damping.

Interior changes

If you weren’t a fan of the old car’s infotainment system, there’s good news — the 2022 Lexus NX sports a completely new interface to last generation. Not only is there a much larger 14.0-inch display available (a 9.8-inch unit comes standard), but the layout gets a much cleaner look. Notice the touchpad? Nope, you won’t — it’s completely gone, and we couldn’t be happier with Lexus’ decision to do that. Instead, you’ll get a couple knobs for the climate controls, and that’s about it. Lexus also moved the knob for the drive modes into the center stack, while you get some more switches just behind the smaller console-mounted gear selector. Other options include heated rear seats and a panoramic sunroof, if you’re so inclined.

The 2022 Lexus NX also leans hard on safety, even more so than the last generation. The driver assistance system now includes a “safe exit” feature for all four doors, which prevents you from opening them if the car detects a cyclist or vehicle approaching from behind. Beyond that, you get a host of other safety teach (pre-collision assist, adaptive cruise control, intelligent high beams and so on) as part of the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0.

2022 Lexus NX Pricing

Lexus says the new NX will go on sale in the third quarter of 2021. As such, we don’t have exact pricing yet, but we’ll have that information closer to launch. At the entry-level end, we shouldn’t see a huge jump over the current car’s $38,635 starting price. The NX 450h+, on the other hand, will likely near the $50,000 mark.