The Lexus NX didn’t get the best start with the first generation, but this latest iteration is a better showing in almost all areas.

What we love
  • Great interior presentation from a base-spec
  • Powertrain punches above its weight grade
  • Very comfy front seats

What we don’t
  • Air-conditioning outlets mounted too low
  • No wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Road noise on freeways

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Is the Lexus NX a good car?

Punching up against established competition is always a challenging prospect. The mid-size luxury SUV segment contains more brands now vying for your money than ever before, and it’s a segment Lexus reckons it can claw back some business, with its new 2022 Lexus NX250, from the German mainstays.

It’s a second time around for the Japanese brand, whose original NX didn’t make the best impression after its debut in 2015. Plagued by a dogged ride quality, sub-par tech and infotainment, and a suite of underpowered engines, the original NX could not match the technical achievements or ingrained luxury of models such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5, or Mercedes-Benz GLC.

But, this new-generation NX means business. It’s already rated well with the Drive team in other specifications, but it’s now time to decide whether my colleagues were entranced by flagship specifications and fancy launch events.

I’m behind the wheel of the entry-level Lexus NX250 – the most affordable variant of the new NX range that kicks off from $60,800 before on-road costs. In the shade of Caliente Red with no option boxes ticked, it’ll cost buyers in Melbourne $67,056 drive-away.

For that spend, key features include a 9.8-inch screen running brand-new infotainment software, leather-appointed interior upholstery, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, power tailgate, power-adjustable front seats, LED headlights, and dual-zone climate control.

There’s a host of kit to get excited about, but the car makes do with a suitably low-end powertrain. A 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine sends 152kW/243Nm through an eight-speed auto transmission. These outputs are routed through a front-wheel-drive layout.

That’s enough background for now – on to how the car actually fares on a week-long test.

Key details 2022 Lexus NX250
Price (MSRP) $60,800 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Caliente Red
Options None
Price as tested $60,800 pls on-road costs
$67,056 drive-away (Melbourne)
Rivals Mercedes-Benz GLC | BMW X3 | Genesis GV70

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What is the Lexus NX like inside?

Stepping inside the Lexus NX250’s interior might show cause for a double-take to check whether it is in fact the base model, so impressively is it presented and adorned. The push-button doorhandles and keyless entry access are easy to use, and get used to.

The two-tone black and cream colour scheme inside the cabin is impressive for an entry-level car, despite odd orange stitching clashing with the colour scheme. Put into practice, the front seats are wonderfully supple and cushy, but have enough bolstering to keep you in place.

There’s more than enough movement to get a comfy driving position using the electric seat adjustment, and in general you don’t feel overly cramped in the front row. Layout-wise, the interior arrangement all displays in driver-centric fashion, without excluding the passenger too much. The air-conditioning outlets are set quite low in the dash and unfortunately end up blowing air at your knees.

One annoying useability quirk is the interior push-button doorhandles that don’t operate as you’d expect. It’s a button press to pop open the door, which is fine, but I find the button is mounted awkwardly low on the door card and doesn’t help with pushing the door open.

Otherwise, the cabin features some neat storage up front including two large cupholders, a small cardholder slot under the dash, and a hideaway storage cubby in front of the shifter with lid. In the door cards you’ll find a small amount of space for little bottles.

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Moving further back into the second row, you’re afforded good space in terms of headroom and foot room. Legroom is a little more constrained than I’m comfortable with, though at 194cm I imagine most people shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

There’s a fold-down armrest with integrated cupholders to keep back-seat passengers comfy, plus map pockets and two USB-C ports for charging devices. The seats also recline to a couple levels to make it a nicer space to have a nap.

Even further back you’ll find 520L of space to store luggage in the boot. The boot is hidden underneath a low-rent folding cargo blind that doesn’t suit the car’s luxury character, but it can be stowed under the floor, which is super handy.

The boot-close button only worked intermittently for some reason – I’m sure it was down to user error, but a press to close the boot results in an annoying beep rather than action.

2022 Lexus NX250
Seats Five
Boot volume 520L seats up / 1141L seats folded
Length 4660mm
Width 1865mm
Height 1660mm
Wheelbase 2690mm

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How big is the screen in the Lexus NX?

After seeing press photos of the new Lexus infotainment system with its large-diameter screen (in high-grade NX variants), initial impressions of the NX250’s smaller 9.8-inch display are somewhat lacklustre. But viewed in isolation, the screen feels absolutely up to the task.

The big new screen does away with many physical buttons, including seat heating controls. You now have to work your way through the menus to select the function, which is slightly more annoying than before. There’s also no home screen button, or home screen at all, for that matter.

But the displays are crisp and nice to view, and functionality is so much better than ever before. This is because Lexus has finally done away with the touchpad controller for a simple touchscreen affair.

The entire screen can run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if those systems are preferred – these must be set up with a wired connection. There’s also AM/FM and DAB+ radio, integrated satellite navigation, and Bluetooth baked in.

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Is the Lexus NX a safe car?

The Lexus NX has just been awarded a full five-star safety rating from ANCAP.

“Lexus has provided an impressive suite of safety features and active safety equipment in its latest NX model,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, Carla Hoorweg. This rating applies to all variants in the model range.

Active safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and intersection support, adaptive cruise control, lane-tracing assist, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, safe exit assist, and blind-spot monitoring.

The NX errs on the side of cautiousness, always cutting in earlier rather than later to avoid potential collisions. There were a few times on test where I was surprised the car auto-braked to a halt.

All NX variants come with 10 airbags covering occupants in both rows. 

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How much does the Lexus NX cost in Australia?

It might not stock the sophisticated turbocharged powertrains of its rivals, but a step up in engine is only one specification grade up the ladder with the NX350. It’s priced very competitively against rivals.

At a glance 2022 Lexus NX250
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1485 (3 years)

Lexus warrants the NX for five years/unlimited kilometres. This timeline is now basically standard fare across the board. It should be serviced every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever is first), with each of the first three visits setting the customer back $495 under Lexus’ capped price program.

Lexus owners also have access to the Encore owner benefits program for three years, which includes fuel discount offers, access to selected events, and service loan cars or pick-up/drop off.

The fuel tank is 55L in capacity and should be filled with 95-octane at a minimum. Lexus insists the NX250 returns a 6.9L/100km combined consumption, but our testing was a little higher at 8.4L/100km.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 8.4L/100km
Fuel type 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 55L

What is the Lexus NX like to drive?

Expectations were tempered getting behind the wheel of the NX250 for the first time. Without turbocharging or the electric assistance of higher-tier model grades, I thought the NX250 might be underdone on the power front, but this was not so.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine in practice feels well-suited to the task of hefting the 1705kg (kerb) high-riding body. With outputs of 152kW/243Nm routed through the front wheels, it feels perky and powerful. What’s more, there is minimal occasion of wheel slipping as power is put down faithfully to the ground solely by the front wheels.

This is the only car in the NX line-up with an eight-speed automatic transmission – the rest get continuously variable transmissions – that shifts smoothly under myriad driving situations. Usually naturally aspirated engines are louder in operation than turbocharged, as they have to rev higher to achieve peak power, but the NX250 isn’t overly rowdy when putting your foot down for overtakes or going uphill.

On the other hand, wind noise at 110km/h on a freeway is evident and does permeate the cabin when touring. The car is a little less refined than German rivals in this regard.

However, it can handle bump absorption impressively on initial large impacts and remains well-composed over smaller corrugations. Passengers still feel the road surface – it’s no Lexus LS – but it’s a nice ride quality across the board.

Vision out of the cabin is fine for the most part and it’s an easy car to place on the road, yet the rear window is tight and the C-pillars are more expansive than you’d like. At the end of the day, it’s a relatively simple car to manoeuvre whether you’re about town or driving on freeways, striking a good balance between at-home shuttle and country adventurer.

Key details 2022 Lexus NX250
Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 152kW @ 6600rpm
Torque 243Nm @ 4000–5000rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Eight-speed torque converter automatic
Power to weight ratio 89kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1705kg
Tow rating 1000kg braked, 500kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.6m

Should I buy a Lexus NX?

There’s a great divide between the Lexus NX of old and the one of now. Lexus has come leaps and bounds, in all respects, over its predecessor to present a competitor worth cross-shopping with titans of the segment such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3.

Its interior impresses in terms of fit and finish, materials use, and an upgrade in infotainment, while the driving experience surprises – even from a base level.

Consider that its pricing also begins more affordable than its rivals – plus a healthy amount of after-sales support and care with the unique Lexus Encore program – and the NX shapes up well in this premium category.

This entry-level NX250 proves that the lauded NX experience isn’t just limited to the higher model grades in the line-up.

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Ratings Breakdown

2022 Lexus NX NX250 Wagon

8.2/ 10


Handling & Dynamics

Driver Technology

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Fuel Efficiency

Value for Money

Fit for Purpose

Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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