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The Lexus NX450h+ 2022 is a great plug-in hybrid before going all EVs

Lexus NX450h+ 2022

picture: Lawrence Hodge

plug-in hybrid is a great compromise for those who still want the convenience of a petrol car but want to experience the benefits of electrification. Most PHEVs have enough electric driving range to cover your commuting and commuting needs while the petrol engine helps alleviate any range worries. After years of creating excellent hybrids, Lexus is finally entering the plug-in hybrid game with the NX450h+. It combines the elegance and functionality of the second-generation NX with usable electric power. But it is quite expensive.

Disclaimer: Lexus supplied me with the NX450h+ and I’m honestly amazed at how much I enjoy it. Only refilling the tank once a week is fine.

What is it?

Behind the Lexus NX450h+ 2022

picture: Lawrence Hodge

NX is Lexus’ second small crossover, ranked above user experience and below RX. While running on a modular platform shared with everything from the Toyota Sienna pickup truck to the Lexus ES sedan, the NX is more mechanically related to the Toyota RAV4. This is an important point that I will mention later. And if you’ve always wondered what the hell NX stands for, a Lexus rep once told me it meant “Nimble Crossover”. Alright.

Important Specifications

Engine Lexus NX450h+

picture: Lawrence Hodge

Power comes from the same 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I4 that powers the base NX250 and NX350h hybrid, but the difference is in the power setting. The 450h+ version adds a pair of electric motors to drive the rear wheels, giving this SUV a four-wheel drive system. Add in the 18.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion batteries that power those motors and the result is the most powerful and efficient NX you can buy. It produces a total system output of 304 hp with 364 lb-ft of torque. It also hits 84 mpge — the equivalent of one mile per gallon when driving on gas and electric — and can go 37 miles on electricity alone. Honestly, though, it’s actually pretty easy to beat the EPA’s estimated EV range. I regularly see as much as 42 miles of electric range per charge.

How it Drives

Lexus likes to tout the low center of gravity of the NX450h+, and indeed, this thing is surprisingly agile. It’s also surprisingly fast, with plenty of acceleration to merge onto the highway. The benefit of having the battery and electric motor at your disposal is that in everyday driving it’s like having a turbocharger ready to provide extra thrust. Power is smooth and quick, and the transition between petrol and electric is one of the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. Unfortunately, when you rely on the power of the 2.5-liter engine, it sounds loud and lacks refinement.

Lexus Advanced Park Support Demo

The great thing about crossovers this size is how easy they are to handle. Parking and getting through tight spots is pretty easy. Parking the NX is even better thanks to Lexus’ Advanced Parking system, which is easier to operate than most other automated parking systems I’ve used. I also had to give Lexus props to place a physical button on the dashboard to turn on Advanced Park technology. There is no need to queue in a specific location for the system to interact on its own. You just need to find the location you want, press start on the screen and let the car park itself. The system can pull forward, reverse or perform parallel parking.

Image for article titled Lexus NX450h+ 2022 is a good, but expensive bridge to electrification

picture: Lawrence Hodge

Driving in different drive modes is easy. A button on the center console lets the driver choose between full EV mode, Hybrid or Charge settings, the latter of which uses the petrol engine to recharge the battery while you’re driving. In EV mode, the NX450+ is predictably quiet. In Hybrid mode, the powertrain behaves like any other hybrid, defaulting to using electric power as often as possible with the petrol engine kicking in when needed.

Charging at home is easy. The NX has an optional 6.6 kilowatt ($800) built-in charger that you simply plug into a standard home outlet. Charging this way, it will take you about 4 to 5 hours to fully charge the battery. That’s one cinch to make overnight. Unfortunately, public charging on Level 2 outlets is an easy problem, but that’s the product of the country’s problematic charging network, not Lexus.

A few notable advantages and disadvantages of the NX450h+

Image for article titled Lexus NX450h+ 2022 is a good, but expensive bridge to electrification

picture: Lawrence Hodge

NX has a lot of useful safety systems, but some of them are super responsive. For example, the pre-collision braking system will sometimes activate when there is no danger ahead of you. On the other hand, I like things like Safe Exit Assist, which will warn you of passing cars when you’re trying to exit a parallel parking space. I just wish all systems were more cohesive in their integration.

The wireless charging dock does not work well. It usually doesn’t detect when a device is placed on top, and when it does, slippery surfaces mean your phone moves around a lot while driving, which can cause the device to stop charging.

Image for article titled Lexus NX450h+ 2022 is a good, but expensive bridge to electrification

picture: Lawrence Hodge

The interior door handles are also unnecessarily complicated. NX uses standard/dual electronic door handles. At the front end you’ll find a braille-like surface indicating where you should press to exit the car. Besides, the label shows how the handle works manually, in case of power failure or emergency. This is confusing and takes some getting used to, and seems like the answer to a question no one asked.


Image for article titled Lexus NX450h+ 2022 is a good, but expensive bridge to electrification

picture: Lawrence Hodge

The NX450h+ is an impressive plug-in effort from a company known for hybrid system excellence. But it can turn out to be a hard sell for some. First, the NX450h+ isn’t cheap. While a regular NX250 starts at a pretty reasonable $38,850, you’re looking at well-equipped RX money for the 450h Plus: $57,705. With nearly every option box selected, including a $1,075 destination charge, my orange NX450h Plus costs $62,090.

Now, remember when I said that NX is mechanically related to RAV4? The NX450h+ uses the same powertrain setup as Toyota RAV4 Prime, $15,000 cheaper. Yes, the inside of the Lexus is a bit nicer, but it’s a huge leap in price for the same performance experience.

None of this is to say that the NX450h Plus is bad. It’s really very good. But having to drop close to $60,000 for a compact crossover just to be able to go 40 miles on electricity alone is a tough sell, especially when the exact same setup can be had for less money.

Specifications Lexus NX NX 450h+ Luxury AWD 2022

Engine type

Gas/Electricity I-4

Transfer / Drive



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