SPINDLED LUXE CUTE UTE SELLS: Distinctiveness uncommonly appeals to to the discerning senses. That characteristic alone couldn’t possibly explain the popularity of the Lexus NX series compact crossover utility vehicles. Despite straining the concept of Cute Ute it has bristled with luxury, quality and a sense of suave.
PLUG INTO SECOND GEN NX: Embarking on a second generation as the Lexus line’s second most vital breadwinner the controversial trademark spindle grille would remain a force to be reckoned with. However, another powerful force now influences the lastest Nimble Crossover. Potent plug-in battery electric gas propulsion makes a Lexus vehicle debut in the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
WHAT: 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ Plug-In Hybrid AWD series AZ20 Row, compact hybrid crossover sport utility vehicle. “NX” = “Nimble X for Crossover”. This second generation of NX succeeds the successful AZ10 is constructed on the modular TNGA GA-K platform and has the XA50 RAV4 Prime as its Toyota analogue.
Standard Power: 2487 cc Atkinson cycle, dual VVT-i DOHC 24V start-stop idle Dynamic Force A25A-FXS I-4 cylinder gasoline engine: 181 hp/ 165 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm; 227 kW (302 hp) net hybrid , arranged parallel to
- 1 x 650V permanent magnet, synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, front wheels: 134 kW (179 hp) coaxially mounted with
- 1 x 650V permanent magnet, synchronous AC Hybrid Starter Generator: 8 kW
- 1 x 650V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, rear wheels : 40 kW (54 hp)
- 1 x 355.2V to 650 V DC three-phase power inverter
- Battery electric supply: electric supply battery: 96 Lithium Ion Polymer cells (contained in 4 stacks), heat pump thermal management, 355V, 68 amp hr, 18.1 kWh
- onboard charging port: Type 2 Mennekes 3.7 kWh (Optional 6.6 kWh)
- Level 1 110V AC 12 ampere charge = 6.5 hours from 80% discharge
- Level 2 240V AC 16 ampere charge = 4.5 hours from 80% discharge
- Level 2 240V AC 32 ampere charge = 2.5 hours from 80% discharge (Optional 6.6 kWh Type 2 Mennekes)
• Continuously Variable Transaxle, parallel shaft gearset coupled, P810 rear electromagnetic differential; 100:0 – 20:80 torque split, Dorsal steering wheel shift paddles
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The 2022 NX 450+ is the latest Lexus effort at sinewy sharp cinched waist crossover. The greenhouse is taller, C and the rear liftgate Kammback more truck upright. Nonetheless a thin C pillar conveys a sporty floating roof. A dual lateral valley hood clamshells over the fenders. The F-Sport “Spindle Grille” juts out less but still hijacks top to bottom nose real estate. Body character lines, by contrast, are smoothly blended with but a dramatic lower front door scoop. Mid flared rear quarter panels evoke sensuous hips. The tailgate receives a new mid lateral spanning light bar, while “LEXUS” lettering replaces the “L”emblem.
Inboard Boomerang Bound: Inboard lateral Lexus “L” boomerang shapes define thinner headlight DRLs, now with intergrated upper directional/ DRL brow, and taillamps housings; F-Sport “Spindle Grilles” remain an amalgam of gloss black chain linked “L’s”. Thick body colored vertical boomerang pillars frame the grille; Sharp Hofmeister kink is no less Lexus L; Front fascia lower corners are now larger latticed piano black vertical “L” shapes; More exaggerated splayed creasing extends out from cinched lower liftgate license plate bowl. Even the door mount wing mirrors are trimmed in chrome lateral “L”.
Thoroughly Darkened F-Sport: Piano black lattice insert full nose depth spindle grille & corner fangs; Window & lighting frames darkened; Piano gloss black accenting and wheels; Body colored front& rear fascia, muscular wheel arches and lower body skirts.
WHY: Popular re-designed prestige crossover is first Lexus crossing over to available cord.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early Winter 2021
WHERE: Lexus new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Kyushu Region, Miyata, Fukuoka Japan
WHERE TO: dual traction electric motor all-wheel drive, e-varies front/ rear traction from nominal 100/0% to maximum 20/80%, ABS torque vectoring; -1 No Off-Road or torque split lock modes; 8″-inches clearance = Inclement weather beater & dirt road, light mud treader
HOW ROADWORTHY: Lexus’ Synergy Hybrid powertrain is that it’s tried and true. The electric motor to ICE handoff goes un-noticed save for hard launches. What sets the plug-in 2022 NX 450h+ above the HEV 2022 NX 350h is an extra 63 net hybrid horsepower generated by a powerful front synchronous magnet E-Motor. The problem is such big motors need an 18 times more capacious Lithium Ion pack that weighs a good 500 lbs. The NX450h+ makes zero fuss movement around town with aplomb. In pure electric mode the response is fairly frisky in a silently sneaky manner. However, get on the throttle at highway speeds and the combined gas-electric effort generates thrashing, something not even the attentively high build quality can quell. The inability of the CVT to stoop to a low ratio immediately staves off any expectation of an overwhelming burst of power, though it eventually materializes.
The latest F-Sport treatment at Lexus is more honest as a visual cues and slightly more deft variable electronic damping package. That and the lower center of gravity from the under-floor mount traction battery in flatter cornering over any outgoing NX series. Yet the 20″ inch wheels and low profile tires don’t do any bump ride favors raising the question of “Why?” Understeer might be less marked than in the last generation NX but the numbed steering wind and all-season tires can’t elevate the compact SUV to genuinely sporty. Brakes travel a pedal too far; +1 Wind buffeting is accomplished for an SUV; Road, wind and powertrain isolation compares to any mortuary.
HOW FAR: 32 combined miles per gallon rated, 520 miles maximum range, 32 g CO2/ mile; 84 MPGe = 11% < Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Prime PHEV
- EV Mode range ≈ 37 miles at up to 84 mph
- Battery Hold mode preserves the charge state for future intended pure electric driving.
2022 Lexus NX 450h+ Plug-In Hybrid vs. Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring Plug-In Hybrid:
- +9 miles (+32%) EV range
- +9% rated combined fuel economy
- +8% rated MPGe
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant seating, snug sloped 2nd Row headroom & foot space
2022 Lexus NX 450h+ Hybrid Vital Size Stats (vs. Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring PHEV):
- Wheelbase: 105.9″ inches = -0.8″
- Row 2 Legroom: 36.1″ inches = -0.6″
- Cargo Volume (nominal / maximum): 22.7 – 46.9 cubic feet = -16% / -17%
- Tow Rating: 2000 pounds = same
HOW USEFUL: √ Power liftgate; √ Manual folding 60/40% split 2nd Row seating; √ 2nd Row 60/40% split tilting seatbacks; √ Cup holders x 4, Bottle holders (doors) x 4
- +1 Deep center armrest bin w/ power, connectivity + reciprocal lateral fold lid; 2nd Row center armrest storage & power ports; Forward view over sloped hood
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick; √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Lexus Safety System 3.0 Plus = Pedestrian & cyclist detection braking; Forward collision avoidance braking; Left turn oncoming traffic warning, braking; Oncoming traffic warning; Lane Departure Warning, Keep Assist, Trace; Full adaptive cruise control w/ variable curve speed reduction, Safe Exit Assist, traffic side warning (no lockout); Automatic High beam LED headlamps
√ Optional: Blind spot & Rear Cross-traffic warning, sonar front & rear park assist; Surround camera w/ fore and aft sonar audible park assist; Digital rear view mirror;
• View Outwards: +1 FORE sloping hood, door mount wing mirrors; -1 SIDE looming over shoulder blindspots; +/- REAR: short backlight mitigated by digital rearview mirror.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: About what is expected of a flagship Lexus makes its way into the second above entry level model in the brand’s lineup. The 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ F-Sport exhibits tight seams, a rich glossy exterior finish and sound insulation. The replacement of center dashboard switches and dials with a soft touch control panel is space saving artful. Soft panel contrast stitching is genuinely premium.
√ Perforated two-tone NuLuxe Rows 1, 2 seating, heated & cooled Row 1; √ Shoulder bolster F-Sport front buckets; √ Power 10-way front seats, w/ 3 position memory driver’s memory; √ Heated Leather power tilt, telescoping steering wheel with spoke integrated redundant controls; √ 2-Zone automatic climate control √ Keyless entry, push buttton ignition; √ Full express power windows x 4; √ 2nd & 3rd Row privacy window tint;
- + 1 Generous steering wheel reach adjustment; Wide center armrest; Generous steering wheel reach adjustment; Adequate seat torso, lumbar support + cushioning; Adjacent front center console dual cupholders; NuLuxe seat covering = could fool almost anyone as leather
- -1 Narrow front seat cushions
Cool Gizmo(s): √ 14″ inch infotainment display bottom virtual climate controls overlay, twin rotary climate adjust knobs, with integrated temperature displays; √ 7.0″ inch 3-D gauge cluster MFD w/ F-Sport G-Forces graph; √ 10.0″ inch Heads Up Display includes dual function left media / right cruise controls, w/ forward vehicle into lane movement, navigation and road sign recognition display; √ Soft touch ventral exterior door handle, interior door button Digital Latch actuation; Digital rear view mirror; √ Center console bin driver & passenger mirror lateral open action
Details Done Right: √ Contrasting stitched seat & soft panel surfaces; √ Turned aluminum door accents; Center stack to console contrast saddle padding; √ Tight grained plastic panels; √ Precision rotating control dials; √ Soft close power windows; √ Cabin pillar & ceiling velour fabric; √ Dense pile carpeting, including 3rd Row outboard walls; √ Foot well & door panel 64 color ambient lighting;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Simulated matte metallic accents
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ center dashtop 14.0″ -inch portrait HD LCD capacitive touch nfotainment screen; √ Adaptive voice command hands-free communications; √ GPS Cloud based Navigation w/ real time re-routing; √ Enform wireless device apps = Amazon Alexa, Doppler weather, Traffic Updates; √ Sirius XM (90 day complimentary subscription); √ Bassy, not brassy 400 watt, 10- speaker, 8-channel DSP Pioneer streaming audio, HD-Radio; √ Siri Eyes; √ USB x 4, 12V x 2.
√ Sirius XM satellite radio (1 year trial); Safety & remote connect (1 year trial); AT&T 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2GB trial)
- Human Machine Interface infotainment designed to be very voice interactive with a little less complexity
- +/1 No more CD player or Lexus Media Display remote mouse or touchpad control
- -1 Infotainment screen exclusive audio switches; Touch screen could benefit from absent haptics feedback;
HOW MUCH: $61,740 = 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ Plug-In Hybrid F-Sport AWD
WHAT’S MISSING: Less tepid brake reaction; Getting accustomed to touch effort steering wheel spoke controls
ANY COMPETITION: Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring PHEV: the conservatively styled, capacious one