Sunday Drive: 2022 Lexus NX is luxury defined in an SUV
Eight years ago, Craig had the opportunity to attend the launch of the original Lexus NX in Seattle. It was there he had his first opportunity to climb into what was then an all-new vehicle from the manufacturer. He enjoyed a day-long drive in the NX, which was loosely based on the Toyota RAV4 as that vehicle was becoming a hugely popular SUV for many in the market.
Fast forward to today, and Lexus has taken what was a new concept then and turned it into the second-best selling name in its line (the RX outpaces the NX about 2 to 1 in sales). With so much on the line, we were glad to see that some really great additions and changes have been made to today’s NX.
The first and largest change is the switch from what Lexus calls “remote touch” to an all-new touch screen. Over the years, our only fault with the luxury line was the strange mouse-like touchpad that controlled the infotainment screen. It was always difficult to operate.
However, with the introduction of the 2022 NX, that odd part of the vehicle has disappeared, and it’s reportedly leaving all models as newer versions are rolled out. The new NX come standard with a 9.8-inch touch screen, which can be upgraded to a huge 14-inch, over-the-top touchscreen with the addition of the luxury F-Sport package ($2,200). This upgraded version is what we drove during our test week.
In our view, it’s well worth the extra money as it added a great deal of depth to the interior of the NX and allowed us to have all kinds of information at our fingertips. Also, with wireless Apple CarPlay, our phone screens were easy to navigate and control via this screen.
As if that was not enough technology, there is also now a virtual assistant onboard the new NX. By simply saying “Hey, Lexus,” pretty much anything could be accomplished without having to touch the screen. From rolling down the windows to making a call, changing the radio station or adjusting the ambient lighting colors, it was all just a quick voice activation sentence away. We could even access the weather forecast for the day by simply asking the Lexus.
The use of our phones did not stop with the infotainment screen. They can now serve as the key for the NX. There’s no need to keep track of the keys for your vehicle; it can be controlled now by simply linking it with your phone. Let’s be honest, how many times do you forget to take your phone along for the ride? It seems much easier to forget the keys!
The doors now open differently also. Instead of some kind of leaver or pull, there is now just a button on the inside and outside that, with a push, opens the door. These locks would not open if there was a car or bicycle approaching when the driver or passenger tried to exit the SUV. We came to really like this option and how it worked, but we have to admit it that took a couple of days to remember it was different from nearly everything else we have driven.
We did a chance for a real Sunday Drive in the new NX, taking it up the mountainous Nebo Loop and putting it through some great twisty roads. It performed exceptionally well on the uphill climbs and downhill shots, especially in the F-Sport trim.
Coming complete with a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine that would make up to 275 horsepower, there was never a time that we lacked in that department. In fact, it gets to 60 in 6 seconds, down half a second from the previous version. We managed a very respectable 26 mpg in our week with the NX.
On the safety side, the new NX is designed with the new Lexus Safety System 3.0, which added Risk Avoidance Emergency Steer Assist to the vehicle that will apply gentle braking and steering assistance in the event of an unavoidable impact.
There is also a left and right turn when an oncoming vehicle, pedestrian or bike is sensed; the NX will apply the brakes and stop the SUV from colliding with any of these hazards. It was a cool system and would even track oncoming traffic from both directions, putting indicative arrows into the heads-up display to warn the driver of oncoming traffic while he or she was stopped at a light or stop sign.
Lexus was one of the first to incorporate adaptive radar cruise control into its vehicles, and this great technology has gotten even better in its newest version. It now provides curve and speed management when engaged, slowing the SUV as it approaches tight curves. We have seen this in the Mercedes line, but it’s a first for Lexus.
This year, the NX has grown both in width, length and height, adding even more room to the cabin and up to 14% more interior cargo space. The designers have reduced the weight of the vehicle by 170 pounds while making it larger.
The new Lexus was a joy to drive, and, after a week, we were just getting to know all the new technology that has been incorporated into this SUV. With time, we know we would discover even more to keep us engaged and happy during the drive in the new NX.
Base price: $46,650
Destination charge: $1,075
Price as driven: $55,510