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EVOLVING: 2022 LEXUS NX 350

As hard as it is to face, the Lexus demographic tends to lean towards the, well-aged crowd that prefers their wine in bottles over boxes. But even Lexus has to admit that their all-new, fully redesigned compact NX crossover is heading in a different direction and may just be more advanced than its average consumer can handle.

Out of the box, the NX continues its edgy characteristics with its sporty creased lines and youthful, eccentric approach. While sharply edged, there is a smooth suaveness to its charisma – despite the return of the vast spindle grille, it feels less intrusive and the rear LED hug the tailgate like a koala bear.

Adding a bit of flavor for all of its different types of demographic, Lexus has elevated the NX’s performance game by introducing four new engine options including the 304-system horsepower plug-in hybrid similar to the Toyota RAV4 Prime. With a new series of engine options, all-wheel drive comes standard on all but the entry NX 250 with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive is optional on the NX 250 for $700.

Our sampler on the other hand dabbled in the mid-range sector of the NX class carrying the NX 350 badge. The NX 350 comes standard with a new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering a punchy dose of 275-horsepower, the NX is a spry little go-getter as it can see 60-mph in about 6.5-seconds from a stop through its trusty 8-speed automatic.

The NX 350 is all of smooth sailing – doing what Lexus does best. You won’t find a full gusty surprise behind the NX’s performance as its main mantra is to provide comfort and fuel efficiency. Everything about the NX’s performance traits is what we would call, just fine – the transmission is smooth through its shift points, but should you want to feel a sporty desire, one might find themselves slightly disappointed in the responsiveness of the steering paddle shifters – they are mostly there for show.

Since our sampled NX was geared to the comfort and premium side of the options list, the handling department was a mere so-so, as expected from the Lexus badge. The suspension system was smooth enough to isolate us from the world but not so much to serve a reminder that potholes still exist. Handling from the steering comes in even more subtle than the suspension with faux sensation of control, it almost feels like the wheels aren’t even there. Changing the drive mode into sport can provide some athletic-ness to the NX’s dynamics, but again this is the premium side of the NX’s character traits, not the F Sport with its amplified handling package.

Inside, the NX is far from what it used to be. Feeling almost as if it’s a little too big for its britches, the overwhelming size of the screen dominates the interior space of the cabin. The massive 14-inch display was encompassed in its $7450 Luxury Package that gave the NX’s interior an advance technological attraction that even had us baffled by its sheer learning curve.

Feeling like a Buick commercial, this surely isn’t our parents Lexus anymore; after all, we had to show our parents how to use the electronic door handles to get out. There is so much technology behind the NX, but with lack of the subscription-based navigation not being active and the time it took to learn how to use the steering wheel controls, there simply wasn’t enough time to learn everything – that’s how advance the new NX is.

Apart from the large screen, the interior itself is as comfortable as a Lexus should be. The finishes are soft and attractive. Buttons are kept to a minimum that give it a clean, clutter free look. Lexus has done away with the cheesy mousepad interface for the traditional touch screen that, in theory works much better. However, we couldn’t figure out if the lagging of the touch inputs was due to the subscription-based navigation always popping up as a reminder to subscribe or the system itself – either way a simple little software update should fix that problem. Overall, there wasn’t anything really to dislike about the NX’s new interior. The size of the crossover grew over 2-inches in length – the extra cushion was added to the rear seat for extra comfort and legroom. If we were to nitpick, it would be the gearshift control – feeling like a cheap bobble head, we expected a little more heft or resistance from a sharp looking lever, instead it feels like cheap plastic about to break off.

Like the previous generation NX, all NX models come standard with the latest Lexus Safety Sense system that features lane departure and assist, active high beam assist, forward collision alert and emergency braking, risk avoidance emergency steering assist, left turn oncoming vehicle detection and emergency breaking, lane tracing assist and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control. Quite the hefty load in safety.

Sticking to own devices, the Lexus NX 350 doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is, a comfortable premium compact crossover with more technology and features than its new owners know what to do with. Evolving into a new generation, there is plenty to like and enjoy from behind the wheel, you might even learn a few new gadget tricks.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle: 2022 Lexus NX 350 Luxury
Base Price: $39,025
As-Tested Price: $54,370

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 2.4-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Horsepower | Torque: 275-Horsepower | 317 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
MPG: 22 | 29 | 25 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 20.1-MPG Combined
Fuel Range: 385 miles
0-60 MPH: ±7.0-seconds

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