American car buyers have a love affair with subcompact and compact sport utility vehicles. These crossover SUVs are smaller than traditional ones, possessing tinier engines, yet still deliver the preferred sedan-like ride.
The choices are numerous because every auto manufacturer typically has multiple crossover SUVs in their fleet of vehicles. One that’s gaining popularity is the Lexus NX. Introduced in 2015, the NX brand has expanded to include six different models – the 200, 300, 350, and three hybrid versions (300h, 350h, 450h).
This review will exclusively discuss the merits of the 2023 Lexus NX 450 hybrid. The five passenger, compact luxury SUV was all-new for 2022, coming out as a plug-in hybrid version of the NX that is comfortable, fuel-efficient, appealing exterior, and loaded with solid technology.
Offered in two trim levels – base and F Sport Handling – the NX 450h has company in its class. It’s pitted against a growing field of luxury plug-in hybrid competitors that includes the Volvo XC60 Recharge T8, Audi Q5 plug-in, and the new plug-in Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Like all plug-in hybrids, the NX 450h doesn’t offer outlandish range. However, at 37 miles in electric-only mode, the NX can transport people with a short commute to work and back without using any gas. It has an 18.1 kWh lithium-ion battery that can be fully recharged in a mere 2.5 hours.
Naturally, one of the major strengths with the NX 450h is fuel economy. In electric-only mode it gets 84 mpge and when it shifts to being gas-powered the mileage is more than respectable at 37 mpg.
Some of the NX models get criticized for lack of performance, but that isn’t the case with the NX 450h. It has two electric motors and a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that combines to generate 304 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 mph in a swift 5.9 seconds and for a small SUV its towing capacity of 2,000 pounds is more than sufficient.
We found the NX 450h easy to maneuver in all driving situations and no problem when parking in tight spaces. The ride is smooth, comfortable and quiet at even high speeds. While the handling is not as sporty as some drivers might like, it does just fine around tight turns and challenging roads.
The NX 450h gets high marks for safety, offering standard features like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.
AT A GLANCE –2023 LEXUS NX 450 HYBRID
- Performance: two electric motors, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, combined 304 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 84 mpge; 37 mpg
- Price estimate: $57,600 to $58,800
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited; corrosion: 6 years/unlimited; electric system: 8 years, 100,000 miles
The cabin is attractive and well thought out, making it convenient for the driver and the four other passengers. The interior has lots of soft-touch materials and there’s also leather seating and wood trim. The seating is extremely cozy for front passengers and the back seat is roomy for a small SUV. The cargo area is more than adequate at 22.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats that expands to 46.9 cubic feet with the seats folded down.
The NX 450h comes standard with a 9.8-inch infotainment touchscreen (a 14-inch touchscreen is optional), which is a huge improvement over the previous generation’s frustrating display and touchpad controller. It also comes standard with an extremely helpful virtual voice assistant and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
The 2023 Lexus NX 450 hybrid is enjoyable overall, offering good performance, attractive exterior, smart interior makeup, and great fuel economy.
Weidel on Wheels is featured regularly on www.tahoeskiworld.com. Auto writer Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.