A Solid, Sporty, and Well-Built SUV

by Robert Stedman
05 Jul 2022

Review of the Lexus NX 350 AWD F Sport

Lexus was founded 33-years ago as the luxury vehicle division of the Japanese automaker Toyota. While it has the expertise of Toyota behind it, Lexus cars were often perceived, by some, as a perhaps a bit platitudinous and dated in design. Unlike their European counterparts, the Japanese liked playing it safe. With the introduction of the new NX 350 F Sport, Lexus breaks this stereotype and puts the Lexus brand on a new road.

The Lexus NX F Sport comes with a few different engine configurations and will have electric hybrid options. For our test, we drove the 2.4-liter in-line 275hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The engine features a dual-camshaft and 16-valves with variable valve timing. The ultra-smooth shifting transmission is an electronically controlled eight-speed sequential-shift automatic that sends power to all four wheels. The engine gives the car a respectable, even fast acceleration of 7-seconds from 0-100 kph. 

Lexus has done a fantastic job in building the NX. This Lexus manages to combine understated elegance with the aggressiveness of a crossover SUV. The compact body contrasts with the gloss-black 20-inch wheels and black F Sport accents, while the extra-large grille makes for an awesome look and appeal. The rear of the car gets an LED taillight bar that is exclusive to the NX. While most Lexus models have similarly designed headlights, the NX has a newly designed one, which gives that car an assertive look.

The Lexus NX 350 F Sport’s design is a true step-up for the Japanese automaker and serves to complement their already great reputation for vehicle reliability. The familiar front Lexus spindle architecture (love it or hate it) has been deepened with a three-dimensional design that starts from the spindle grille and extends significantly toward the rear fenders. In addition, the front fenders’ upward-flowing three-dimensional forms merge with those near the rear fenders to give a sporty appearance.

Inside, Lexus has managed to create an all-new cabin that impresses. It’s a well thought out design loaded with luxury features and accents. We suspect that elements from this cabin design will be incorporated into all new Lexus cars in the future; it’s that good. At first glance you’ll see a huge 14-inch infotainment display slightly angled to the driver. It looks modern and right for the car. Indirect cabin illumination in the sills, door panels and centrer console can be adjusted to help create the right effect for every journey. There are 64 different colous to choose from; of these, 14 themes have been pre-defined to reflect different moods in what Lexus describes as, “inspired by nature.”

The NX infotainment system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It’s a very simple interface and easy to use. Now, you only have the button-less touch screen to navigate through the system. And like most luxury cars today there is a verbal component that responds to commands or questions. To activate all you have to do is say, “Hey Lexus” and the system is ready to help. Such wonders would have been unthinkable only a few years ago but are now becoming commonplace in luxury vehicles. It’s funny how some car voice recognition electronics have trouble understanding occupants. In the Lexus, verbally changing stations worked flawlessly, but was hopeless at finding streets with voice command in the navigation setting. No matter how hard we tried, we could not get directions to “Leng Kee Road” (location of the Lexus showroom). At one point and in what seemed like machine frustration, the screen showed us a map of Florida, USA! Still, the new system is huge leap forward for Lexus. We especially liked the 360-degree car camera, which makes even the most difficult parking a breeze.

(Related: The hybrid solution by Lexus)

Another feature we really liked was the head-ups display that project relevant car information on the windscreen in front of the driver. The NX’s display offers three different modes, which drivers can select according to the driving situation.

Driving the NX is in a word, fun. The F Sport model features Active Variable Suspension, which adjusts the ride based on the driving mode. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the NX becomes inspired and gets rid of its soft, luxury ride and becomes ready for corners and more aggressive driving.

The chassis is rigid and strong and the same is true about braking. Being from Toyota, the NX is comfortable, and it does everything well. The NX is not pretentious and is not trying to be something it isn’t. We couldn’t be happier with the quality of the interior and the performance of the Lexus NX.

Aiming to achieve quietness befitting a Lexus, sound-insulating materials in various parts of the vehicle that reduce the air flow and noise seeping into the cabin has been reduced by approximately 15%. To lessen high-speed wind noise, a revised weather strip and front door glass “run shape” have been developed to improve door sealing. The engine hood uses a twin-lock structure to suppress engine hood vibration caused by air turbulence, contributing to improved quietness. The 2.4-liter turbocharged model features Active Noise Control, which enhances the noise characteristic of the four-cylinder turbocharged engine, while producing a pleasant driving experience typical of Lexus.

In conclusion, the new Lexus NX F Sport is a real winner. It’s comfortable, capable, and even a bit charismatic.  And in line with other luxury SUVs, the car comes in around S$320,000, which in today’s market is a bargain for such a solid performer.