Lexus NX450h+

By Author: Paul Herrold, Date: Apr 05, 2024
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The Best of Both Worlds!

Despite diets, exercising, and eating as healthy as possible, most of us can’t help but get a little bigger as we age—a couple of pounds here, a few extra inches there, we try to avoid it but it just sort of happens… Ironically, our cars, trucks and SUVs suffer a similar fate: With each new model redesign, vehicles happen to get bigger too.

Take, for example, the Lexus RX300—the very first luxury crossover SUV in the USA. Introduced by Lexus back in 1998, it took the market by storm—the company could hardly keep up with the demand. Originally considered a “compact vehicle” at the time, it was 180.3” long and 71.5” wide. Five years later, the RX was redesigned. It grew six inches longer and one inch wider—and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. Currently in its fifth generation, the all-new Lexus RX has now grown into a “mid-size” class crossover and, at 192.5” long and 75.6” wide, it’s over a foot longer and four inches wider than the original. The interior gained more room, sure, but in doing so the company lost prospective buyers who wanted a compact-size luxury SUV instead. To remedy this, Lexus introduced an all-new SUV in 2014 called the NX for “Nimble Crossover.” At 182.7” long and 72.6” wide, it was within inches of the original RX dimensions.

For the 2022 model year, a second generation NX was brought to market. The SUV grew only slightly bigger than its predecessor as now the emphasis was not so much on the roominess of the vehicle, but rather its refinement and technological advances. Lexus has hit a homerun here—especially in their top-tier version, the plug-in hybrid NX450h+. Part of the appeal of the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system is that, when fully charged, the NX450h+ gives you approximately 37 miles of engineless range with its electric motor. Then, once the main battery is fully depleted, it automatically switches over to its 2.5L 4-cylinder engine hybrid system (36mpg combined city/hwy). It’s a pure EV for driving around town, but a full-on gasoline vehicle for longer trips. With standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) and 304 horsepower, the NX450h+ hits 0-60mph in a respectable 5.5 seconds—making this the most powerful and quickest NX model yet.

This Lexus model is more than just about its propulsion system, however. Its ride quality and smoothness are top notch, and its steering is light and accurate. Surprisingly, the extra 400 lbs. of battery weight over the regular NX models helps the chassis in softening road imperfections. Although not the most agile compact SUV on the market, the NX450h+ corners well and tracks down the road like a champ. Inside cabin and road noise is outstanding, especially when driving in pure EV mode: Be careful what you say under your breath—everyone in the car will hear you!

The exterior of the NX has an almost-sports car look with dynamic body panel creases and muscular wheel arches. Even Lexus’ controversial front grille is integrated well with the design—so well, in fact, that after 12 years of debate, we can officially call the Lexus spindle grille design a success. Interior materials are definitely worthy of the Lexus badge, too: Everything is logically laid out and the 450h+ enjoys a huge 14” infotainment touchscreen—gone is the awkward trackpad. The steering wheel uses Haptic-Touch thumb controls, which allow each button to have multiple functions and essentially doubles the number of functions you can perform while never taking your hands off the steering wheel. Unfortunately, these buttons are overly sensitive and are constantly activated during turning maneuvers or just by sliding your hands across the steering wheel. Despite being the smaller sibling to the RX model, interior space in the NX450h+ is very generous for front passengers, and decent for those in the rear seat. Luggage room is still good, even with the EV battery taking up some of the floor space in the truck.

Pricing for the 2024 NX lineup starts at $41,755 (including destination) for the front-wheel-drive 203 horsepower NX250. The top-of-the-line NX450h+ quickly raises that figure to $60,055.00, but you do get a lot more technology, features, and power—totally worth it.

As it turns out, the Lexus NX450h+ is the perfect size for compact luxury SUV buyers and it’s really nice to drive.  Additionally, with its plug-in hybrid system, the NX450h+ offers one thing that most other SUV’s in this class don’t: The ability to drive short distances on pure electricity and long distances on ordinary gasoline—it’s the best of both worlds!

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