2022 Lexus NX Review

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Oct 07, 2021

Introduction - Find the best Lexus deals!

For 2022, Lexus introduces an all-new, second-generation version of its NX compact premium SUV. It's the second best-selling SUV in the luxury brand's lineup next to the midsize RX, and its sales also eclipse those of Lexus's best-selling sedan, the ES.

Along with the much smaller UX, the NX plays an essential role in attracting new buyers who may be considering moving from mainstream brand offerings to the premium space. First introduced for the 2015 model year, the 2021 NX was getting stale in the market, particularly in the areas of infotainment, connectivity, electrification, and advanced driver-assistive technology.

The 2022 Lexus NX addresses all those areas. Aside from all-new sheet metal that doesn't stray too far from last year's model, the 2022 NX gets a new driver-oriented cockpit, leading-edge infotainment system with one of the largest touchscreens in the segment, and expanded advanced driver-assistance technology. There are also new, previously unavailable options such as a head-up display, wireless device charger, and a panoramic sunroof.

This year, Lexus has also broadened the NX's market coverage, expanding its model lineup to four offerings. These include:

  • New base NX 250 with a normally aspirated gas engine
  • Turbocharged gas NX 350
  • NX 350h hybrid
  • First-ever NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid

All four 2022 NX models feature a sporty silhouette with a fast-sloping, coupe-like roofline, new high-mounted LED driving lamps and full-width LED tail lamps, larger available 20-inch alloy wheels at the corners, and the latest iteration of the Lexus spindle grille. The sharp body creases of last year's model are smoothed out a bit in the 2022 version, but the prominent wheel arches are retained. For 2022, the NX's footprint increases just a bit, growing nearly an inch nose-to-tail, and the wheelbase stretches about a half-inch to achieve parity with that of the 105.9-inch Toyota RAV4. The new NX also now sits a half-inch taller than the previous model.

What Owners Say About the Lexus NX - Find the best Lexus deals!

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Front Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

The Lexus NX competes in the Compact Premium SUV segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 59 percent of new Lexus NX buyers are female (vs. 47 percent for the segment), and the median age of an NX buyer is 61 years (vs. 60).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the NX in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Driving comfort
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Powertrain
  • Interior design
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the NX ranks 8th out of 12 Compact Premium SUVs.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Lexus NX - Find the best Lexus deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of a 2022 NX 350 AWD equipped with the following options:

  • Luxury package (20-inch alloy wheels; leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel; heated and ventilated front seats; power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel; open-pore interior wood trim; driver-adjustable lumbar support; memory system for driver's seat, mirrors, and steering wheel; head-up display; 14-inch infotainment touchscreen; adaptive auto-leveling headlamps; Drive Connect trial with cloud navigation; thematic interior ambient lighting; hands-free power liftgate; rain-sensing wipers; power tilt and slide moonroof; intuitive parking assist with auto-braking; rear cross-traffic braking; and rear pedestrian detection)
  • 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system
  • Smartphone Convenience package (wireless device charger, Smart Access Card Key, digital key functionality)
  • Vision package (panoramic view monitor, lane-change assistance, front cross-traffic alert)
  • Rear Seat package (heated outboard rear seats, power-folding seatbacks)

The price of the test vehicle came to $55,445, including the $1,075 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Front Seats

Photo: Ron Sessions

Although the 2022 Lexus NX has the slightly elevated driving position coveted by SUV buyers, ingress and egress are a breeze. There is no step up; you simply slide right in.

The NX sports new exterior door handles that are touch-sensitive. You don't pull on the handle to unlatch the door. Merely touch the inboard surface of the handle, it unlatches electrically, and then you pull open the door as you would before. To exit the NX, you touch another flat sensor pad above the door armrest, and the door unlatches so you can push it open.

Once inside, you'll notice that the cabin feels open and roomier if you spent any time in the previous-generation NX. That's because the center of the dash no longer juts out between the driver and front passenger. In its place is a new infotainment system with a large flat screen that we'll get into in more detail in a minute.

There's also a larger center console with significantly increased storage because Lexus has done away with the console-mounted remote touch interface. They've also moved the drive-mode selector from the console to the face of the dash. The front passenger area doesn't feel claustrophobic. Another nice touch is foam-backed cushioning for bony knees on the console sides and inboard edges of the door armrests.

The driver and front passenger enjoy comfortable, form-hugging bucket seats offering decent support for thighs and lower torsos. Standard fare includes heated cushions and power adjustments for both the driver and front passenger. Upper trims also offer ventilated cushions. Seat coverings consist of NuLuxe faux leather in most trims with real leather upgrades in higher trims. There are no massaging seat options, however. Lexus offers several attractive two-tone seat trim color combinations, including Rioja Red and black, Palomino Tan and black, and (shown here) Rich Cream and black.

The 2022 NX features a new 7-inch color digital driver display. Elements include a prominent central tachometer flanked by simulated analog fuel and coolant temperature gauges, as well as a digital speedometer. The driver can also summon trip information, driving range, current and average fuel economy, tire pressure, and the status of various vehicle and driver-assistance systems. Turbo models can display boost pressure, and all models also give current time, audio entertainment selected, gear selected, current time, posted speed limit, and outside temperature.

An available color 10-inch head-up display shows current speed, posted speed limit, navigation directions, gear selected, current drive mode, and displays a compass at the bottom of the windshield in the driver's line of sight. Also available is a whimsical, driver-selectable 14-color interior light showing program with calming nature themes to chill to, such as Waterfall, Sunset, and Rain Forest.

The 3-passenger rear bench seat offers reasonable headroom and legroom. The outboard passengers sit in sculpted pockets that offer nearly as much comfort and support as the front buckets. The aft cabin also gets separate climate control vents, two USB-C ports, a 12-volt outlet, a fold-down center armrest, and a pair of cupholders. Allowing for cargo flexibility and room for longer items are 60/40 split rear seatbacks that passengers can also recline slightly. The rear seats can be optioned with power-folding seatbacks and outboard cushion seat heaters.

2022 Lexus NX Lexus Interface Infotainment System Review

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

The 2022 Lexus NX has an entirely new infotainment system dubbed Lexus Interface. The previous model year's clunky and space-robbing remote touch interface on the console is gone, as is the old-fashioned dash-mounted CD player.

The infotainment system includes:

  • Standard 9.8-inch or available 14-inch full HD touchscreen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability
  • Integrated Apple Music and Amazon Music streaming capability
  • Standard "Hey, Lexus" voice assistant
  • Cloud-based navigation with subscription
  • Can store up to three driver profiles
  • Can pair two phones simultaneously
  • Wi-Fi hot spot with a one-month trial
  • Standard 10-speaker or optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio
  • HD Radio
  • SiriusXM satellite radio with 90-day trial
  • One each USB-A and USB-C ports in front console
  • Over-the-air system updates
  • Google-partnered points of interest search capability

With the new Lexus Interface system for 2022, the NX is now available with one of the largest infotainment touchscreens in the compact premium SUV segment. Both the standard 9.8-inch and available 14-inch screens are within easy reach of the driver and front passenger, eliminating the need for the remote-touch interface pad on the console.

Steering-wheel controls are still present for volume and tuning, and Lexus wisely kept an analog rotary volume knob just below the screen for quick, on-the-fly adjustments. Still, most other functions are accessed digitally via the center touchscreen. Shortcut virtual buttons for accessing phone, music, navigation, vehicle, and other functions line the left section of the screen. There is no rotary tuning knob, however. The interactive nature of the new standard Voice Assistant is a big step forward. The system is prompted by pressing a steering-wheel voice-control button or saying the "Hey, Lexus" wake-up phrase.

The system has a high level of natural language understanding, so you can use common words or phrases to ask it to access personal contacts, media, climate control, seat, and other functions. For example, even though there are two very prominent climate-control temperature adjustment knobs on the dash center, you can say, "I'm cold," and the system will raise the outlet temperature by two degrees on the side of the vehicle from where the request came. Or, if you're new to the system, you can say "help," whereupon the system will offer categories of assistance and menus to help resolve your query. And with an upgrade to the optional Intelligent Assistant, capabilities expand to include weather, Google-integrated points of interest, and other searches.

Phone pairing was a breeze, taking maybe all of 30 seconds to connect my new Samsung 5G cellphone. The ability to pair two phones is a boon to employees who need hands-free access on the road and must keep personal and professional communications separate.

The NX 350 test vehicle was equipped with the optional Mark Levinson 12-channel surround-sound audio system that did justice to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody via SiriusXM with 1,800 watts of crystal-clear, enveloping sound.

What It's Like to Drive the 2022 Lexus NX

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Side Profile

Photo: Ron Sessions

In a move to broaden the appeal of the NX, Lexus has doubled the number of its powertrain offerings. The new base NX 250 gets a RAV4-based 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque, and a new 8-speed automatic transmission. It's available with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD).

Next is the NX 350 with a turbocharged 2.4-liter gas 4-cylinder engine pumping 275 hp and 317 pound-feet of torque. It's equipped exclusively with AWD and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The NX 350h replaces last year's NX 300h and is the first of two gas-electric hybrid offerings. Equipped with fourth-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive and AWD, it makes 239 total system hp using a 2.5-liter gas engine, 2-motor transaxle, and single-motor rear differential. It works through an electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission.

The top hybrid offering is the NX 450h+ plug-in model. It, too, has AWD and combines the urgings of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and three electric motors, but adds a big, 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery for 302-hp total system output and 37 miles of electric-only driving range.

The 2022 NX is built on parent automaker Toyota's Global Architecture-K platform, featuring MacPherson strut front/trailing-arm double-wishbone independent suspension, large-diameter vented 4-wheel disc brakes, and electrically boosted power steering. Upgraded wheel choices this year include new 20-inch alloys.

The NX 350 test vehicle I spent several hours driving in the hills north of Scottsdale, Arizona, benefits from a broad torque band that starts at just 1,700 rpm. This broad power band gives the NX 350 good, but not exciting, low- and midrange response, which most buyers want for everyday driving. There is no turbo lag when you step on the accelerator at low speed, and there's ample power left at the top end for merging and passing. The new 2.4-liter turbo's longer stroke gives it more oomph than last year's 2.0-liter turbo. The new 8-speed step-shift automatic offers a higher-numerical first gear for quicker launches and a taller top gear for more relaxed cruising than was available with last year's 6-speed automatic.

The new NX 350 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, a half-second quicker than the previous NX turbo. You'd think that would earn it top performance honors among NX models, but that distinction goes to the surprisingly quick (and even more torquey) NX 450h+, which does the deed in 6 seconds flat, just like the RAV4 Prime with which it shares its powertrain.

On the road, the NX 350 offered a pleasantly firm brake pedal with a linear response. While not conveying an overabundance of road feel, steering was nicely weighted, and the new, quicker ratio came in handy in some of the sharper turns. Body roll was nicely controlled in those turns with very little lean in corners, and the standard gas shocks handled dips and bumps in stride. The cabin was, as expected, Lexus quiet, even over some surfaces with lots of aggregate content.

Buyers looking for a bit more stick and swagger can option the NX 350 with larger 235/50R20 all-season tires. Or, they can opt for an F Sport package that not only includes those tires but also adds adaptive shock absorbers, front and rear performance dampers, and sporty styling touches inside and out.

Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 Review

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD ADAS Menu

Photo: Ron Sessions

Unlike several of its European competitors that often charge extra for advanced safety and driver-assistive technology, Lexus makes most of it standard. That's also true for the 2022 Lexus NX, which expands the already extensive list of features included with last year's Lexus Safety System 2.0 with the new Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. These include:

  • Adaptive cruise control with new map-based curve speed management
  • Lane-departure warning with steering assist
  • Lane centering
  • Pre-collision warning system with pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcycle, new intersection, and oncoming cross-traffic detection, and forward automatic emergency braking
  • Intelligent high beams
  • Speed-limit sign detection
  • New risk-avoidance emergency steering assist (to avoid obstacles such as truck tire treads within the lane)
  • New emergency driving stop system (if the driver has become disabled)

Also standard in all 2022 NX models but not in the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 suite are blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring. Also included is a new safe-exit assist feature that uses the blind-spot sensors to scan for vehicles or bicyclists approaching from the rear and prevents the applicable doors from opening if there is a hazard.

Premium or Luxury trim packages include intuitive parking assist with automatic braking, rear cross-traffic braking, and rear pedestrian detection.

Available in an optional Vision package are a panoramic rear-view monitor, front cross-traffic alert, and a lane-change assist feature that enables semi-autonomous lane changes on well-marked limited-access highways with turn-signal application.

The rural and exurban driving routes available during my evaluation didn't lend themselves to exploring the fatigue-relieving or potentially life-saving elements of Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. However, during a spirited run down a winding 2-lane rural road with a few decreasing-radius, limited-sight turns, I was grateful for the new map-based curve-speed management. It slowed the NX just enough from the adaptive cruise control set speed to handle some surprisingly tight turns without drama.

2022 Lexus NX FAQ - Find the best Lexus deals!

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Cargo Area

Photo: Ron Sessions

How much cargo space does the 2022 Lexus NX have?

Cargo space behind the rear seat increases this year to 22.7 cubic feet, room enough for five airport roller bags. Folding down the 60/40 split rear seat increases that to 46.9 cubic feet, which is less than was offered in last year's NX but is still plenty of space for longer items such as bikes and big-screen TV boxes.

Because the 2022 NX does away with the spare tire, there's a considerable amount of extra storage space under the cargo floor where the spare would typically reside. The underfloor compartment can easily accommodate a purse, laptop, camera, and other small valuables you might want to keep hidden when the NX is parked.

Premium and Luxury packages include hands-free power operation of the lift-back door. Also available this year is a cargo area pet divider.

Does the 2022 Lexus NX get good gas mileage?

The expanded 2022 Lexus NX powertrain lineup includes two gas engines and two hybrids. With EPA combined city/highway mileage ratings of 28 mpg for the naturally aspirated NX 250 and 25 mpg for the NX 350 turbo, gas-engine fuel economy is about average for the compact premium SUV segment. In three hours of driving in scorching 100+ degree September Phoenix heat with lots of hilly sections and stops with the engine running for photo taking, the tested NX 350 showed an indicated 23.5 mpg. With the SUV's 14.5-gallon fuel tank, that would result in a driving range approaching 340 miles.

The NX 350h hybrid offers considerably better fuel economy with an EPA estimated 39-mpg rating. The first-ever NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid adds the capability of driving up to 37 miles on electric power alone while nearly attaining a 36-mpg estimated combined rating when in gas/electric hybrid mode. It is also EPA-rated at 84 MPGe, which takes into account the 37-mile electric-only capability over the first 100 miles.

Is the 2022 Lexus NX safe?

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has published crash-safety ratings for the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX.

How much is the 2022 Lexus NX?

Base prices for the 2022 Lexus NX range from $37,950 for the front-drive naturally aspirated NX 250 to $55,560 for the AWD NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid. All-wheel drive is a $1,600 upcharge for the base, front-drive NX 250. The destination charge adds $1,075.

What are the 2022 Lexus NX competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the Cadillac XT4 ranks highest in the Compact Premium SUV segment. The Lincoln Corsair and the Porsche Macan are the next highest-ranked models. 

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the BMW X4 ranks highest in the Compact Premium SUV segment. The Porsche Macan and the BMW X3 are the next highest-ranked models.

Other competitors to the 2022 NX include the Acura RDXAudi Q5, and Volvo XC60.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Lexus deals!

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Rear Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

While retaining the overall good looks of its predecessor, the all-new 5-passenger 2022 Lexus NX expands its appeal with a broader model selection, more open-feeling interior, the latest infotainment, connectivity, and driver-assistive tech, and the model's first-ever plug-in hybrid option.

By adding a lower-cost non-turbo gas entry-level model and a plug-in hybrid up top that's both fun to drive and advances the brand's electrification initiative, Lexus is building a bigger tent to welcome younger, more-urban buyers looking for something nimble, stylish, and tech-savvy but also carries the Lexus reputation for durability and good resale value.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2023 J.D. Power

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