What To Make Of The 2024 Lexus NX450h+…

2024 Lexus NX450h+ F Sport 3

Price: $77,382.50 CAD

Colour: Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0

When the Japanese automakers decided to wade into the luxury end of the auto market in the late 80’s we were inundated with various examples of badge engineering with inflated price tags that always felt a little false. As a kid growing up in public housing, I never understood why you would fork over extra money for a car that, aside from some different badges, was thousands cheaper with a different logo on it. The exception to this was Lexus. They shared platforms and components with their Toyota contemporaries of course, but it always felt like the demand for quality was higher. If it wasn’t as good as you could make it, it couldn’t be a Lexus. As the decades have ticked by this ethos may not be the guiding light it once was but there is still something quite special about Lexus products. The 2024 NX450h+ retains some of that secret sauce and is really rather fascinating.

The interior of the NX is a curious thing. It’s refined and sophisticated for sure, but it has some curiosities. This F Sport comes with Lexus’ synthetic leather ludicrously coined “Nuluxe”. It feels pretty close to real leather and is supposed to be kinder to the environment. Sure, why not. Elsewhere we get an abundance of shiny, piano black trim. While this is better than shiny faux-wood trim, my word does it show the dust fast. When I picked up the NX it hadn’t been cleaned well and this highlighted immediately how readily the shiny stuff shows off the dust. It was everywhere. I didn’t see heavy evidence of scratching so that’s a plus in a car with over 6,000kms inflicted upon it by brutal auto journalists. Otherwise, it has the usual restrained collection of materials that typify modern Lexus vehicles.

Road noise in the NX was minimal and the seats are very comfortable. The F Sport trim comes with some upgraded suspension components and the driving experience was far more dynamic than I expected. The PHEV system delivers a total of about 300hp which was enough make the NX a rather spirited drive as long as you changed the drive mode to Sport +.

Interior space is a sore point in my family at the moment. My two sons (aged 12 and 14) are now both taller than their old man (I’m a towering 5’8”). As a result, evaluating rear space in a vehicle has become a bit of a family tradition each week when a new car arrives. The NX features that ever popular rear sloping roof line we all love. As a result, headroom in the back seats is in short supply. Leg room is equally hard to find as the compact nature of this vehicle leaves full-sized people feeling like tuna. I didn’t expect loads of room in the rear and I wasn’t disappointed but this vehicle is clearly aimed at young, well off mothers with small kids. As a practical hauler of adults, this won’t get it done.

I wanted to highlight the infotainment system in the NX. It’s not only the perfect size but it’s also very well made. The display is HD or better and the cameras connected to it are of an equally high resolution. It reacts to input well and is oriented to best serve the driver. CarPlay and Android Auto work great and while this makes most of the native functionality a little redundant, it all works great as well. Admittedly I got a little lost trying to find the tire pressure menu, but nothing’s perfect and this is a clinic in good infotainment design.

There is a trend in the auto biz toward making a car more complicated and thus better. The NX has some evidence of this. Take for example the audio and phone controls. They’re operated by a touchpad arrangement on the steering wheel. This is a very finnicky bit of business and I actually found it rather distracting while driving. The volume buttons (featuring plastics I recognize from my 2013 Sienna), are regular buttons right next to this infuriating touch pad so I know they can do it. Instead, they give us something that isn’t more user friendly but makes for a cool reel on Instagram. Door latches are a pretty simple thing. You slide a finger in and pull, door opens. It doesn’t have to be more than this. Lexus believes otherwise as the NX features a toggle that when pushed opens the door. Okay, cool. But why do we need a series of electric motors and sensors just to open the door? Attach the latch to the lock and you’re good. If the battery dies you can pull the toggle twice the opposite way and the door opens manually. They had to engineer this in for practicality purposes so why not just make it a regular latch? This drove me absolutely nuts. Finally, the door handles. They operate by sliding your hand into the opening and pulling on a pad arrangement. Sure, that works but there is a slight delay from when you touch the inside of the door handle and when the door releases meaning I sometimes pull myself toward the car before the door opens. Why can’t we just have a handle you pull as normal? The exterior handles were as frustrating as the interior latch because Lexus insisted on reinventing something that worked just fine. All the little motors and sensors needed to make that system work will one day fail. Can you imagine the cost of fixing it? It will cost you thousands to be able to open the door on your 15-year-old Lexus. Why do all these things have to be so complicated? The practical side of my brain knows this is all driven by the fact that most people won’t keep their car until real maintenance becomes an issue so who cares about the cost of repair if you can have some funky bit of functionality to show off to your friends? It does however speak to the value proposition that used to be offered by Lexus. You won’t have any million mile NX’s with this sort of design choice.

Whenever I get any kind of EV, I always insist on testing range. I find it important to know what that extra drivetrain and associated costs gets you. In the NX you get about 50kms of all electric range. It’s pretty good. It charges in 10-12 hours on a household trickle. What I found curious though was the fuel economy ratings on the Lexus website. The normal 350h delivers 5.7/6.4 L/100kms (city/hwy) while the PHEV delivers 6.5/7.1 L/100kms. Unless this is a typo, I’m flabbergasted. You pay for an entire dedicated electric drivetrain and it returns poorer mileage than a good old fashioned Toyota hybrid system? This made no sense.

The NX isn’t the entry level SUV from Lexus, but it’s the first one you’d genuinely want to own. The UX looks like an arthritic knuckle that needs surgery and isn’t something you’d want to buy, so the NX is important. It’s the most accessible of the Lexus SUV products and is by far the most common one you’ll see driving around everyday. Being a Lexus, this is an expensive vehicle. The gas powered NX starts around $52,000 CAD and that’s not too bad. From there the sky is truly the limit and you can spend as much as you like. This PHEV F Sport model is nearly 80k and that gives me the “no” feeling in my man bits something proper. Depending on drivetrain and options you can spend nearly as much as you like on an NX. That’s really my biggest issue with this vehicle. The price spread is so wide and ludicrously complicated that after an hour of playing with the configurator online I still couldn’t really find the right trim level for me. There is a solid value proposition in there somewhere and if you find it, please let me know.

Objectively, the 2024 Lexus NX450h+ is a very good small SUV. You’ll play hell figuring out which one to buy and will likely end up choosing whatever the dealer has on the lot. Either way you should be happy with the results. It is overly complicated and who knows how much gas you’re actually using but does that really matter? It’s on a 3-year lease. Let the next guy worry about that other stuff. You just enjoy the glitz of the Nuluxe lifestyle. 



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