2022 Lexus NX 350h review: Popular SUV gets major makeover


This SUV makes up one third of all this Japanese brand’s sales in Australia and a mass of major upgrades has only made it better.

The new Lexus NX, due to arrive in January, will be the brand’s most important launch of 2022. Since the first version of the NX went on sale in 2014, the model has established itself as by far the brand’s bestseller in Australia. It accounts for one in every three sales.

The new NX is a little larger and more stylish than the model it will replace, but it also brings improvements in power and fuel efficiency, as well as safety and multimedia tech.

There will be more propulsion options to choose from, too.

The current NX comes in 300 and 300h forms, the first with a turbo 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder and the second with a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid set-up.

There will be at least three options, maybe four, to choose from with the new NX. The 250 variant, with a 2.5-litre four and front drive, will be the least costly. The 350 features an all-new turbo 2.4-litre four and will come only with all-wheel-drive. The 350h has an updated version of the 2.5-litre-based hybrid system with more power and lower fuel consumption than before. Buyers will have a choice of front-drive or all-wheel-drive versions.

Though not yet officially confirmed, it’s a near certainty that Lexus’s first-ever plug-in petrol-electric hybrid, the NX450h+, will also make it to Australia. It’ll be the range-topper.

Prices have not been confirmed by Lexus, but expect the NX250 to be about $60,000 and the top-spec NX350h to be about $80,000. The plug-in NX450h is likely to add another $10,000 or so to that.

Lexus buyers in Australia are increasingly choosing petrol-electric hybrid variants. So while the non-hybrid NX300 is currently the most popular model, the new NX350h is expected to be the most popular in the new line-up. It’s the model we focused on at the media launch in Europe.

The chunkily proportioned NX is the kind of car that makes a good first impression. The firm driver’s seat is superbly comfortable and the new dash, with its landscape-oriented central touchscreen, looks great.

The rear seat and cargo compartment are both spacious, and the interior fit-out is quality all the way.

Instead of using the clear and responsive central touchscreen, the NX driver can summon a voice assistant by saying “Hey Lexus” or pressing a button on the new-look steering wheel. It works pretty well.

The list of standard safety and driver-assist tech is lengthy and includes a feature to stop doors being opened if a car or cyclist is passing.

Lexus says the new 350h has 24 per cent more power than the 300h.

It feels quick-ish, but it’s the hybrid unit’s full-time smoothness and frequent quietness that are its best points.

The engine doesn’t make exciting sounds, but the Lexus hybrid system is often able to shut it down to run solely on electric power around town or in hilly terrain.

The fuel savings mean the official consumption figure for the NX350h is lower than its turbo diesel competitors from Europe.

The NX350 is a fraction faster, but its engine fails to charm the ears and its eight-speed auto isn’t always the smoothest shifter. Its fuel consumption is about 30 per cent higher than the hybrid, according to official test figures.

While the NX350h is composed and capable, its chassis set-up hasn’t been tuned to suit super-sporty steerers. It aims instead for a just-right level of ride comfort, and succeeds nicely. The motions of the body are well controlled over lumps and bumps.

Its relaxed driving style is just one of the things that gives the Lexus a different flavour from its European rivals. Others are its distinctively Japanese quality and style. And in the case of the NX350h, petrol-electric hybrid tech that makes choosing diesel from Europe seem like a dumb decision.


Price: From $70,000 (est)

Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cyl petrol-electric hybrid; 179kW

Safety: Auto emergency braking, radar cruise, lane-keeping and blind-spot assist, intersection turn assist, road sign recognition, safe-exit assist

Thirst: 5.9L/100km (European cycle)

0-100km/h: 8.7 secs

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