April 26, 2022 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2022 Lexus NX350h AWD Premier

Serious game from the new luxury-compact standard

The 1st generation Lexus NX was a very successful model for the marque in every market that it was available. In North America, its sales were second only to the larger RX. It sold alright in our market and the NX was a very good luxury compact crossover but not the best in its class. It was a little small, the drivetrains were not too exciting, and the packaging was not in full measures. That all changes with the all-new Lexus NX, which is not only larger, exceedingly more refined, and generously packaged, but it is also brimming with truly desirable drivetrains.

For the all-new 2nd generation NX, Lexus Philippines is offering three outstanding models that cater to buyer’s particular needs. And they are all variations of great, seriously. Our test unit featured here is the mid-range NX 350h AWD Premier hybrid in Sonic Chrome exterior color and Dark Rose leather with contrasting Ash interior that retails for PhP 4,488,000.00 (the entire model range is available in 9 exterior and 4 interior colors). If you don’t need the extra traction, performance dynamics, and trim, there is the purely front-wheel drive model at PhP 3,338,000.00. The more powerful, NX 450h+ AWD (the first Plug-In hybrid model for Lexus), that shares its higher performance all-wheel-drive system and extra EV range with the Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid Prime, is not currently available at the showroom. Though I am confident that if you really wanted to own one, Lexus Philippines would be open to indent the order as they have the infrastructure and aftersales service training to manage all the new models.

For buyers seeking a premium luxury compact crossover with a deeper focus on driver enjoyment, Lexus does offer the NX 350 F-Sport variant. This has additional distinctive trim, more aggressive but adaptive variable suspension and a more committed 275 bhp and 317 pound-feet of torque through a 2.4-liter direct injection air-to-liquid intercooled turbo and an 8-speed automatic transmission without electrification mated to the same all-wheel-drive system for PhP 4,548,000.00. A mere PhP60,000.00 more than our fabulous NX350h Premier test unit. That extra cash improves acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h by .6 seconds, from 7.4 seconds to 6.8 seconds, severely sacrificing emissions and fuel economy from 5 L/100 kms. to 8.1L/100 kms. though, while overall ride comfort is marginally less plush at the most aggressive Sport+ setting. Both models are brilliant, and either would provide fulfilling joy for years.

With the entry of the all-new NX in our market, a fully energized Lexus Philippines has become the new overall champion of the premium luxury segment offering maximum values for money across the whole broad range. The institutional European brands have their own full model ranges available as well but in order to manage their retail costs, most of the models have heavily curated packaging.

The all-new Lexus NX shares its TNGA-K architecture and drivetrain with the all-new Toyota RAV4. However, in keeping with engineered tradition since inception of the luxury brand, Lexus always builds on the monumentally solid foundation of Toyota to reinterpret their products decisively. I am very thankful for this synergy as it ensures optimal consumer pricing, packaging, and reliability. Beginning with the power, the dynamically superior Lexus NX350h produces 20 bhp more than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It has more sophisticated suspension damping and superior and larger brakes as well. The NX is 2.6 inches longer than the RAV4 Hybrid but instead of using the space for literally more interior capacity, the Lexus’ interior used the proportions to create a dramatically more alluring yet intimate cabin to optimize driver and passenger comfort for 4 adults. Yes, the all-new NX compared to the first-generation model is longer by 20mm, wider by 20mm, and taller by 5mm on a 30mm longer wheelbase, and it does technically accommodate 5 adults better than before, however it is best experienced with 4. The handsome cabin has significantly more sound-deadening foam and rich materials generously applied with new glass and seals that reduce NVH intrusion by a claimed 15% and contribute greatly to creating a new elevated level of interior comfort. Out back, the NX incorporates a new “Lexus” script across the tailgate with a different font in place of the typical oval “L” logo, which remains in the new front spindle grille. The new signature full-LED lighting on both ends look and function astoundingly better than before yet look more like a tasteful segue rather than a complete design evolution.

The NX debuts a completely new infotainment interface featuring a massive and crisp 14.0-inch touchscreen combined with physical shortcut knobs. The high-definition screen CPU (central processing unit) is 3.6 times faster than before. Convenience for everyone on board is addressed with four USB ports in the cabin, two front and two rear (three are USB-C standard). The wireless phone charger is 50% faster with wireless connection for Apple CarPlay™ smartphone integration. The new NX marks the beginning of the new Lexus design philosophy “L-finesse” that applies leading-edge design and technology, with the goal to create “functional beauty”. One example is the new engine undercover design with a dimpled surface, like a golf ball, that supposedly creates micro-vortices in the airflow beneath the car to improve straight-line stability. The new NX also marks the first application of Lexus’s new “Tazuna” (horse and rider control) concept for the driver’s cockpit design for a more rewarding and tactile driver experience.

The steering wheel, switchgear and its layout are completely different, more practical, more intuitive, and more functional. The cross-section of the wheel was precisely determined to give the best grip feel and ease of operation, while the shift lever was made as compact as possible. The new Lexus NX is also the first model to be fitted with the smart e-latch electronic door release system. This is the single new feature that has generated contrasting dialogue, some C! Team members were uncomfortable with replacing the familiar mechanical internal door handle with a push-button switch positioned next to the armrest in the door panel. You will get used to it. The e-latch electronic system is also linked to the car’s Blind Spot Monitor to warn of any traffic approaching from the rear. If it detects a risk, it will trigger a warning light and buzzer, and cancel the door unlatching. Lexus believes this system can help prevent the majority of the accidents caused by the door opening without seeing cyclists, motorcycles, or pedestrians. Lexus updated the standard active and passive safety suite to a whole new level as well. The Pre-Collision System can recognize and help to avoid 36 % more accident scenarios than previously. The brake system is excellent and now has a new pedal return damping mechanism, which aims to “enhance the dynamic quality of the pedal release operation” resulting in a very communicative feel.

Even the operation of the power tailgate has been improved to function quieter and quicker by 50%. The NX drives with enhanced rigidity without feeling the weight. The new structure includes the world-first use of 1180MPa steel for the rocker reinforcement and 1470MPa steel for the roof reinforcement. The front fenders and hood are made from aluminum and a new laser peening technology has been developed, in addition to laser screw welding and the use of special adhesives for joining the structure. A twin bonnet latch design has been adopted, with a transverse reinforcement between the two locks, which adds the rigidity of the bonnet to that of the overall body and suppresses vibration caused by air turbulence.

The all-new 2022 Lexus NX350h AWD Premier is the new standard for its class. It is a genuinely great all-weather crossover to drive and ride in. Unlike before, the rear electric motor is always operational, providing more torque and driver communication too. There is so much effortless and potent power on tap that the NX350h felt like it had even more power than what is indicated on the spec sheet. I never felt wanting for more power or capability. Every single component in the NX is exemplary, from the magnificent Mark Levinson® 17-speaker 1800-watt audio to the fabulous hybrid drivetrain. Truly, with Lexus, the products are about the finest craftsmanship, comforts, and performance applied in different load capacities, you simply cannot make an error of judgement.

Specification – 2022 Lexus NX350h AWD Premier

Engine: Inline-4

Location: Front, Transverse

Displacement: 2487 cc

Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum

Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, VVT-i

Fuel Injection: Direct & Port Injection, Atkinson-cycle, Front 180 hp (134 kW) / 199 lb-ft / Rear 54 hp (40 kW) 89 lb-ft Permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors, 1.6-kWh (259V) lithium-ion battery pack.

Max power: 189 bhp @ 6000 rpm (Combined power with EV: 240 hp)

Max torque: 176 lb-ft @ 4300-4500 rpm (Combined torque with EV: 288 lb-ft)

Transmission: eCVT with manual-shifting mode, All Wheel Drive

Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts with coil springs, gas-pressurized shock absorbers, performance damper and stabilizer bar.

Rear suspension: Independent Double-wishbones type with coil springs, gas-pressurized shock absorbers, performance damper and stabilizer bar.

Fuel Capacity: 55 liters (14.5 gallons)

Drag Coefficient: .35 cd

Ground Clearance: 195 196 mm

Approach Angle: 16 degrees

Departure Angle: 25 degrees

Load Capacity: 643 liters with second-row fixed, 1328 liters with second-row folded

L x W x H: 4660 mm x 1865 mm x 1670 mm

Wheelbase: 2690 mm

Brakes: Front 12.9-inch (328 mm) ventilated discs 2-piston calipers / Rear 12.5-inch (317 mm) vented discs with 1-piston calipers Integrated Electric Parking Brake, ABS, ECB, EBD, BA, Regenerative function.

Wheels: 20”x 8J 7.5J Multi-spoke Two-tone Aluminum Alloys

Tires: P235/50R20 100V Bridgestone Alenza 001 RFT

Weight: (kerb) 1854 kg. (4080 lbs.)

0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 7.4 seconds

Top Speed (mph): 198 km/h (124 mph) Governed

Fuel Mileage: 5 L/100 kms. Overall, 41 mpg City / 37 mpg Highway

Price as tested: PhP 4,488,000.00

C! RATING 10/10

+The Most complete packaging and most spacious in the luxury subcompact crossover segment, desirable, quiet and opulent. Exceptional cabin design and interior materials, Mark Levinson® 17-speaker 1800-watt Premium Surround Sound audio, and a long list of standard kit.

Price. Lexus NX450h+ even better.

© C! 2003-2022. All Rights Reserved. Designed by