Last year we drove the Lexus NX 350 and NX 450h+, the petrol and plug-in hybrid variant respectively of the NX range. The NX 350 features a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 205kW and 430Nm. With thick low down torque it’s a good powertrain for the daily grind. Meanwhile the NX 450h+ combines a 227kW 2.5-litre petrol engine with dual electric motors. It has an all-electric range of up to 87km which is more than enough to cover most daily commute.
Both variants have distinctive attributes that are likeable – our detailed review of the models can be found here. But our pick of the NX range is the NX 350h, which is the focus of this review.
The NX 350h makes up the most variants in the NX line-up, with a total of 11 different grades comprising the 3 trim levels of Luxury, Sports Luxury and F Sport, each available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive format.
Our tester is the top-spec NX 350h F Sport AWD with Enhancement Pack 2 priced at $83,900 plus on-road costs. With that you get a 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol engine supplemented by an electric motor at the front axle and another at the rear axle (giving all-wheel drive capability). The hybrid powertrain produces a combined output of 179kW and 391Nm.
The F Sport trim brings a blacked out mesh grille, sportier front and rear bumpers, body-coloured wheel arches and dark chrome window surrounds. It rolls on superb-looking F Sport specific 20-inch alloy wheels finished in a gun metal metallic coating.
The standard NX is already a handsome looking mid-size SUV. The F Sport trim sharpens the looks further, especially in the Cloudburst Grey hue of our test car. It looks pretty damn good.
The interior of our NX 350h gets a few F Sport touches including perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport seats, scuff plates and aluminium ornamentation. The Flare Red accented interior upholstery is stunning and complements the grey exterior of the car really well.
Being an F Sport model, our tester also features a large 14-inch central touchscreen which is the main highlight of the whole dashboard. The new interface is a big step up from before, with vastly improved graphics, layout and response. It supports smartphone-like swipe and pinch motion which makes it much more user friendly than the previous Lexus interface.
However, the digital driving instrumentation panel is small compared to rivals. It’s also a little underwhelming in terms of clarity and customisability.
The F Sport seats look fantastic and are very comfortable. Space up the front is plenty, while in the rear it’s good enough for two averaged-sized adults – three will be a little tight.
Cargo space behind the rear seats is measured at 520 litres, quite generous in mid-size SUV terms thanks to the absence of a spare wheel – all NX variants now roll on run-flat tyres. With the rear seats stowed, the space expands to 1,411 litres.
The drivetrain of the NX 350h is the main reason why this model is our favourite in the line-up. The NX is not a sports SUV, with it emphasised more on luxury and comfort. And the smooth, unstressed persona of the atmospheric 2.5L engine and the responsive electric drive suit the NX really well.
Over two decades Lexus (and parent company Toyota) has fined tuned the hybrid drive to perfection. The latest application in the NX 350h, we reckon, is the best in the segment. The transition from electric to combustion power is virtually imperceptible, delivering a very EV-like driving feel. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is such a great match for this type of hybrid system. For the most part it’s quiet, operating discretely in the background without bringing attention to itself, yet it’s suitably responsive when you put your foot down.
With nearly instantaneous torque from the electric motor backing the engine, getting off the line is swift, with 100km/h arriving in just 7.7 seconds (AWD version). It’s worth noting that the 350h’s AWD isn’t a conventional driveshaft driven AWD. The engine (and front electric motor) is hooked up to just the front wheels. The rear wheels are driven purely by the rear electric motor – there’s no mechanical linkages between the two axles. This is the so called Lexus eFour AWD system.
The NX 350h is predominantly front wheel driven, with the rear wheels engaged during acceleration, cornering or when slippage is detected – such as when going off-road. Nevertheless, there’s still an abundance of grip for a secured driving feel.
The F Sport comes standard with adaptive variable suspension (AVS) which can vary the damping depending on the drive mode. The suspension stiffens only a little in Sport setting but that’s enough to sharpen things up around` the bends. Keeping it in Comfort mode still gives neat handling and the ride is generally smooth except when travelling on pimply surfaces at low speeds where it can get a bit busy – the hard sidewalls on those run flats are partly to blame.
Being a self-charging hybrid EV, there’s no range anxiety with the NX 350h, unlike a full EV. It’s capable of around 1000km in range with a full tank, with an official average of 5.0L/100km. Our real world tested figure of 5.6L/100km after over 1300km of driving is pretty close to rated and remarkable for a medium SUV.
The NX 350h is covered by Lexus’ five-year/unlimited km warranty. Service interval is 15000 km or 12 months, whichever comes first. The company offers a free Lexus loan vehicle when your Lexus is being serviced or can even come to your home or workplace to pick up and then return your Lexus for servicing.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Excellent hybrid drivetrain
- Comfort and luxury
- Fine ride and handling balance
- Busy low speed ride
- Some run-flat tyre noise
Comfort and refinement are strong points of the Lexus NX, and it’s best motivated by a hybrid powertrain like the one in the NX 350h. There’s decent performance from the petrol-electric drivetrain and its efficiency is outstanding for a medium SUV. Just don’t expect it to be that particularly sporty to drive.
2023 Lexus NX 350h F Sport AWD pricing and specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $77,900|
$83,900 (NX 350h F Sport AWD with Enhancement Pack 2)
|Warranty:||5 years/unlimited kilometers|
|Warranty Customer Service:||3 years roadside assist|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/15,000km|
|Engine:||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, dual electric motors:|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||Claimed: 7.7|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 5.0|
|Body:||SUV, 5 seats|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,660/1,865/1,670/2,690|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,870 (NX 350) / 2,050 (NX 450h+)|
|Boot Space (L):||520|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,500/Unbraked: 500|