PHOENIX — Lexus adds a welcome plug-in hybrid, among other useful features, to its 2022 NX compact SUV. Brief tests also suggest significantly improved infotainment and connectivity systems.
The new NX should join its big brother — the RX, without which no higher-end preschool pickup lane is complete — as the mainstays of Lexus' lineup in a post-sedan, increasingly electrified auto industry.
The NX is already popular. It sold 62,079 in the U.S. in 2020. The new lineup, which includes two gasoline-powered models, a hybrid and the plug-in hybrid, as well as both front- and all-wheel-drive models, should increase the NX's appeal.
Competitors include the Acura RDX, BMW X2, Cadillac XT5, Lincoln Corsair, Infiniti QX50 and Mercedes GLC.
I drove varieties of the NX from suburban Phoenix through neighborhoods and desert scrub to quirky sundials and sculptures of nearby Carefree.
The 2022 NX is 183.5 inches long, on a 105.9-inch wheelbase. Both figures are 1.2 inches longer than the 2021 model.
The NX uses a new platform that makes the new models significantly lighter than their predecessors.
The 2022's styling is supposed to embody Lexus' new dedication to performance and handling, but it's an evolution of the outgoing SUV. Obvious changes include moving the L-shaped daytime running lights from below to above the headlights.
The current hybrid — EPA rating: 33 mpg city/30 highway/31 combined — accounts for 23% of NX sales. Lexus estimates the 2022 hybrid will score 41/37/49 when testing is complete.