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2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport review

Lexus has finally delivered a no excuses, no compromise medium SUV with the 2022 NX350 F Sport. BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz – you have been warned.

What we love
  • Massively improved infotainment
  • Nicely balanced ride comfort
  • Well-stocked standard features list

What we don’t
  • Finicky steering wheel buttons
  • Fidgety run-flat tyres spoil otherwise serene ride
  • Slightly sleepy engine tune

Introduction

With the new-generation 2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport, the Lexus brand moves its SUV out of the space where you feel compelled to make excuses for it.

Not that the old NX was particularly bad, but it struggled against fierce competition from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Never quite as spacious, not as tech-laden, and not as dynamic.

With a new platform, new engines, and – finally – a new infotainment platform, Lexus has a competitor in the medium SUV class that ticks all the boxes.

The NX line-up covers a wide range of models starting with the non-turbo, non-hybrid NX250 two-wheel drive from $60,800 plus on-road costs, and topping out with the NX450h+ all-wheel drive, the brand’s first plug-in hybrid model, priced from $89,900 plus on-road costs.

Near the top of the range sits the NX350 F Sport, with a new 2.4-litre turbo petrol engine and all-wheel drive. Positioned as a somewhat sporty model, F Sport is the sole trim level available with the non-hybrid NX350.

For a full rundown of the 2022 NX range, check our price and features coverage.

Compared to the previous-model NX300 F Sport, the new model steps up a not insubstantial $9400, and now starts from $77,900 plus on-road costs. There’s more power and torque, added safety features, and more tech packed in – but can the new car pull off the price rise?

For Lexus, the signs are encouraging.

Key details 2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport
Price (MSRP) $77,900 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car White Nova
Options Premium paint – $1750
Enhancement Pack 2 – $6300
– Panoramic sunroof
– Heated steering wheel
– Digital rear-view mirror
– 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio
– Semi-automated park assist
Price as tested $85,950 plus on-road costs
$94,683 drive-away (Melbourne)
Rivals BMW X3 | Audi Q5 | Mercedes-Benz GLC

Inside

First impressions of the new interior are promising. The design is modern without looking outlandish. The F Sport’s red leather may not be to all tastes, but it’s suitably sporty to match this model’s aspirations.

The dash design is clear and logically laid out. Lexus has moved a number of functions off the dash and centre console and into the infotainment, which helps declutter the centre stack.

The front seats are nice and roomy, although taller drivers may find the seat bolstering a little tight around the shoulder area. The driver gets 10-way electric adjustment with two-position memory, with eight-way adjustment for the front passenger, plus front seat heating and ventilation.

A powered steering column is standard, but adding the available Enhancement Pack 2 adds steering wheel heating, a digital rear-view mirror, panoramic sunroof and premium audio upgrade.

Front seat storage nooks include a slide-away wireless charger with storage space underneath, a pair of console cupholders, and a large centre console with a double hinge to open from left or right. There are decently sized door pockets, but a shallow daily glovebox.

Moving into the rear, passengers get much more space than before. Width is noticeably improved, and headroom is generous, even with the optional sunroof fitted. While the improvements help, knee room may still be a little tight, and with a 180cm occupant in front, the front seats will be close to the knees of adult occupants.

For added comfort on longer trips, the rear seats can be reclined slightly. They’re quite comfy in their normal ‘upright’ position, but offer a bit more napping comfort when tilted.

Further back, the powered tailgate opens to reveal 520L of space with the rear seats up, or 1141L with the 60:40 split seats folded. It’s a decently sized space able to comfortably fit in most things a busy family will need, with a flat-laid lip and a pair of fold-away bag hooks nestled in the sides.

Beneath the boot floor is a massive space to keep additional items but no dual-height boot floor. The use of run-flat tyres means there’s no spare eating into boot space.

2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport
Seats Five
Boot volume 520L seats up / 1141L seats folded
Length 4660mm
Width 1865mm
Height 1670mm
Wheelbase 2690mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

It feels like an exaggeration to call the new Lexus infotainment system a revelation, but simply because it’s so much easier to use compared to the old system, and so much larger to boot, it arrives as a breath of fresh air.

The 14.0-inch display of the F Sport is backed up by crisp graphics and responsive load times. To give you an idea of how good it is, and how much processing power it has up its sleeve, when you invoke the 360-degree camera system the changeover is instant and the area underneath the car (displayed as a see-through wire frame) is already mapped and held in cache, ready to go.

It’s a small detail, but an incredibly promising one as carmakers finally get their heads around the level of tech required to make modern infotainment feel more naturally like an extension of smartphone tech.

Speaking of which, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are included, though only via a wired connection. Digital radio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth and three years’ subscription to Lexus Connected for access to connected navigation, and Lexus Remote Connect that allows users to lock and unlock the doors and tailgate, start or stop the engine, search the car’s location, activate the horn or headlights, or pre-condition the climate control remotely.

Normally a 10-speaker audio system would be standard, but as part of the Enhancement Pack 2 fitted to our test car, a 17-speaker Mark Levinson-branded system delivered really clear, powerful sound. Impressive quality and well worth the upgrade.

An 8.0-inch digital instrument display – smaller than the 10+ and 12+ inch displays of most rivals – delivers key info, but lacks the kind of multi-format and customisable display modes available from Audi or Mercedes.

Instead, Lexus places the instrument display quite low, and supplemented by a clear and bright head-up display that works fantastically well.

Less convincing is the implementation of the new touch-trace steering wheel buttons. As you trace your finger over the unmarked D-pad on each side of the wheel, the head-up display shows where you are and what the function is. A page button underneath allows each pad to be switched between two function sets.

That feels like a useful function, and helps keep eyes on the road, but each function requires a double press – once to activate and once to confirm. If you don’t lift your finger you can make concurrent single presses, but otherwise the system is an unresponsive mess.

It’s immediately less responsive to changes in cruise control or audio adjustments. Seems Lexus needed something to replace its fiddly console-mounted touch controller, after all.


Safety and Technology

The Lexus NX is yet to undergo ANCAP testing and is currently unscored.

All NX models feature the same safety suite, which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and intersection turn assist, allowing the AEB to intervene if it detects the vehicle turning into oncoming traffic.

Other included tech covers safe-exit assist to prevent opening the doors into cyclists or traffic, emergency steering assist, road sign assist and radar active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep and lane trace assist, front and rear park sensors, parking support with brake, 360-degree cameras, and 10 airbags.

2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport
ANCAP rating Not tested

Value for Money

With pricing that kicks off from $77,900 plus on-road costs, Lexus has positioned the NX350 wisely. It is almost $10K cheaper than a less powerful BMW X3 xDrive30i, although it’s more than a similar-spec Audi Q5, while outshining it on interior presentation and equipment.

With value rather than cost as a strength, the new NX range should be attractive to plenty of buyers.

Along with the rest of the Lexus range, the NX family is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and five years of roadside assistance. Lexus includes three years’ access to its Encore ownership benefits program that includes rewards, events offers, and fuel discounts.

Three years of capped servicing is priced at $495 per visit (at 12-month/15,000km intervals), but also includes vehicle pick-up and delivery, or a service loan vehicle.

At a glance 2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1485 (3 years)

Official fuel consumption is rated at 8.1L/100km. Despite being an all-new engine, the 2.4-litre turbo doesn’t feature any form of mild hybrid assistance (although Lexus has the more frugal full-hybrid range on NX350h models) but does come with stop-start tech.

In a week of testing that incorporated around three-quarters highway and open-road touring, the NX350 returned 9.3L/100km. Start-stop driving is perhaps its weakness, with consumption creeping past the 15L/100km mark around town. That said, our test car was fairly fresh and may improve with time.

Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp

Fuel Usage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.1L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 9.3L/100km
Fuel type 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 55L

Driving

Lexus has hit the nail on the head when it comes to luxury. While the NX350 boasts the second biggest power claim of the NX range (trailing the NX450+ plug-in hybrid), it doesn’t focus on being quick so much as being effortless.

That’s both good and bad. For the most part, with a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine producing 205kW and 430Nm you could expect the NX to be fairly swift. Those figures represent a healthy 30kW and 80Nm upswing over the previous-generation NX300.

Add in the F Sport handling and appearance, and you have the potential for a near hot hatch experience.

That’s not what you get, though. Instead, it actually feels a little dozey around town. There are no abrupt starts, no rush of performance, just a smooth, well-metered swell of torque. Excellent for comfort, but maybe not what keen drivers will be after.

Similarly, the suspension tune finds a nice balance with excellent ability to ride out bigger road imperfections, but a fidgety and vibey feel over little high-amplitude bumps. If I had to point a finger, I reckon the stiff run-flat tyres might be the culprit here.

Find the right rolling road and the NX350 F Sport inspires confidence, but does so in a way that’s pseudo-dynamic. While that could be a markdown normally, the NX isn’t really aiming to be a weekend enthusiast’s stand-in.

A hushed interior when cruising and fluent steering, brakes and suspension make the NX better than its key Euro competitors, in some ways. Some focus on firm ride and can’t keep road noise at bay.

Pick the Lexus as a more comfy option – although the adaptive suspension and drive modes can be toggled into Sport S and Sport S+ modes to firm up steering and suspension, and make the eight-speed automatic more eager, they’re still far from transformative.

Key details 2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport
Engine 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power 205kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 430Nm @ 1700–3600rpm
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Eight-speed torque convertor automatic
Power to weight ratio 110.2kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1860kg
Tow rating 1000kg braked
Turning circle 11.6m

Conclusion

Now that the NX range has scaled up slightly, it offers the size and presence to better sit with the established competition.

Though it may not win the rear-seat space race, it’s comfortable and flexible enough to suit couples or young families. It’s certainly plush and comes comprehensively equipped and sharply styled.

It’s perhaps deceptively comfortable (run-flat tyre issues aside) given how the F Sport treatment looks, which may be its biggest strength. The NX350 doesn’t try to be needlessly aggressive or stiff. It looks quick but drives more like a plush luxury car ought to.

Perhaps most importantly, infotainment, technology and connectivity take a leap forward. There’s no need to make excuses for the Lexus NX350 – it is a medium SUV every bit the equal of its peers.

The post 2022 Lexus NX350 F Sport review appeared first on Drive.

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