Lexus NX450h + plug-in hybrid review from 2022

This Japanese brand has launched an electric gasoline SUV that delivers excellent performance and will drastically cut fuel bills, but there is a catch.

The Japanese brand has been at the forefront of hybrid vehicles, but this is the first plug-in hybrid sold in Australia. Let’s find out what it is.

Here are five things you need to know about the Lexus NX450h +.

IT’S A HYBRID TO CONNECT

Until now, Lexus has focused on self-winding hybrids that offer very limited electric-only range. The brand claims that the new NX 450h + plug-in hybrid can travel up to 87km on electric power alone. This is significantly more than most PHEVs, which typically offer between 30 and 50km of EV range. It takes about three average round trips before recharging. The NX 450h + combines the standard NX’s 2.5-liter petrol engine with an electric motor on each axle, powered by an 18.1 kW lithium-ion battery. The electric assistance increases the power from 136 kW to 227 kW. Lexus claims it is capable of reaching 100 km / h in just 6.3 seconds.

EV SETUP IS BETTER THAN MOST

Many plug-in hybrid vehicles require the driver to press the accelerator lightly to keep the car in EV-only mode, but the NX is different. It has four different driving modes that offer various combinations of electric and gasoline power. In EV Priority mode, the car only runs on electric power until the battery charge drops to a level where electric assistance is needed. Auto EV / HV mode will provide petrol assist when the throttle is fully depressed or the EV engines reach full power. When the battery is depleted, the car reverts to the same trim as the standard NX hybrid, assisting the petrol engine and regaining its charge under braking. The final mode uses the gasoline engine as a generator to recharge the battery on the go.

OFFICIAL FUEL USE IS TINY

Car manufacturers love plug-in hybrids because they produce phenomenal results in official fuel efficiency laboratory tests. This allows them to meet the stringent emission test targets in the European Union and elsewhere. The NX 450+ PHEV is no exception, declaring a consumption of only 1.3 liters per 100 km. It actually takes a tremendous amount of discipline to get close to that number in real world driving. On a long motorway trip, we averaged 7 liters / 100km with four adults and four heavy suitcases. The standard hybrid would use less but would not be able to match the performance of the PHEV.

THIS TECHNOLOGY IS NOT ECONOMIC

The NX450 + is the most expensive NX by a considerable margin. At $ 89,900 that’s nearly $ 30,000 more than the cheapest model in the range and about $ 25,000 more than the conventional hybrid model. Compared to luxury rivals of the same size, however, it comes at a very high price, especially when you take into account the equipment levels of this flagship model. The cabin is impeccably finished and the technology is easy to use. Highlights include a large head-up display that lets you navigate the infotainment menus without taking your eyes off the road and a fantastic 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. Driver assistance technology is comprehensive and works flawlessly without intruding too much. The surfaces and materials of the cabin are of high quality, there are many USB sockets and the trunk is above average which is rare for a PHEV.

HE IS A GREAT TOURER

There are few SUVs that will make the family trip in the style and comfort of the NX. The engine and electric motors work flawlessly to provide smooth but adequately fast progress, while the suspension does a great job of balancing comfort with cornering ability. The sharp steering and the extra grip and balance of all-wheel drive, especially in the wet, provide an enjoyable driving experience. The seats are comfortable, with plenty of thigh and back support for long journeys, while the driver interfaces are clear and easy to navigate.

Originally published as Lexus NX450h + plug-in hybrid review from 2022

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