2022 Lexus NX 350H First Drive Review: A Worthy Utilitarian Crossover
With gas prices soaring, this hybrid version of Lexus’ “Nimble Crossover” has never made more sense.
The folks over at Lexus know how important their NX collection of vehicles is to the company’s bottom line, so they make sure to keep their favorite crossover and biggest seller all spiffy and updated year to year.
Considering the automaker’s eco philosophy (and that of parent company, Toyota), the most important trim version within the NX family must be the 350H hybrid. For 2022, the machine packs a little more power and improved fuel economy – just in case for gas prices destined to run the klaxon for a couple years to come.
According to most sales statistics resources, the NX remains the top seller for Lexus. That’s not a surprise as crossovers and small SUVs now dominate sales charts throughout the automotive industry.
Unless a given company offers a popular pickup truck (Ford, Chevrolet or Ram), there’s a strong chance that a car builder’s top selling model is a crossover or five-seat SUV. As of 2021, that list of SUV-centric companies with a crossover leading the way includes Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Buick, Nissan, Toyota, Jeep, Subaru and Jaguar.
The NX 350H (as with all versions of the NX) is a smaller crossover at only 184 inches long and 73 inches wide – with a curbside weight of just over two tons. Comfortably seating five with storage space of 22.7 cubic feet (and with limited off-roading capability from its luxury identity), the NX is intended for city-bound people carrying with enough room in the back for their stuff.
As for aesthetics, the NX 350H falls into the class of small crossovers that might’ve been called a hatchback in the era before small SUVs began selling hot enough to kill the station wagon and severely threaten the sedan’s existence.
Under the hood, the NX 350H comes standard with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 240 horsepower hybrid engine. It’s an adequate, if less than thrilling power plant – but excitement isn’t what the NX is about out on the road. It’s about ease and luxury.
To that end, the Lexus NX 350H comes with a complete suite of driver safety and comfort features. There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to accompany an updated infotainment system with both an HD console screen and a 10-inch head-up display. The available navigation system is cloud-based, allowing for map directions on its own when cellphone signal declines.
If there’s a quibble to be made for the NX 350H, it might be found in the overall build quality. It’s not poor or shabby, but it’s not overly distinguishable from that of any Toyota – acceptable, but not extraordinary.
With a starting MSRP of about $41,000, there should be a more refined, substantial feel for any Lexus – especially if the automaker still wants to take on rivals such as BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
Otherwise, the 2022 Lexus NX 350H rightly stands at the top of the Lexus food chain. While it’s not the biggest, fastest or most luxurious vehicle in the line, it is the most utilitarian – combining enough comfort, space and features to make it an effective crossover for urban use.