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2024 Lexus NX 450h+ Luxury review: A plug-in steppingstone to the all-electric world

The Lexus NX is a small luxury SUV that’s available with a whopping three different powertrains and either front- or all-wheel drive, an embarrassment of choice. A simple gasoline engine is the base offering, but you can also get a hybrid propulsion system and even a plug-in hybrid powertrain if you’re curious about electrification but aren’t quite ready for a full EV. The 2024 NX 450 h+ is the top-line model and it offers a surprising amount of battery-only range, plus it’s unexpectedly delightful for a compact vehicle.

Like other Lexus models, the NX looks aggressive, at least from the front. The massive grille absolutely dominates the face of this pint-size SUV, the chain-like texture filling in this space radiates outward subtly from top to bottom, accentuating the grille’s considerable width. Optional $850 triple-beam headlamps with cornering lights punctuate the NX’s prow.

The rest of this Lexus’ exterior styling is more subdued than the front. The flanks are quite clean, though a pronounced kick-up in the shoulder line adds some visual interest; the rear is tidy, too, with Lexus spelled across the liftgate in large, sanserif letters. This example’s Nori Green Pearl paint job looks fantastic, dark but not too inky, with just a bit of shimmer in bright sunlight. Another nice touch is the electric door latches. A small, rubberized button on the back of each pull quickly pops the swing panels for easy access to the lovely interior.

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It’s impossible to miss this Lexus with that gigantic grille. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

The NX 450h+’s cabin is beautiful and shockingly comfortable. This space is not overwhelmingly opulent, but the materials are all premium and the build quality is perfect. Plopping down in one of the seats, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the rich smell of leather followed by how soft the seat coverings are. This vehicle’s front buckets are very comfortable — plus heated and ventilated — though the bottom cushion is a tad too short for taller people.

The rear bench is another win, astonishingly roomy for a vehicle of this size. The NX offers ample head space and legroom for 6-foot-tall passengers, the cushion is an excellent height above the floor and even the backrest is nicely angled. The only real issue with the rear seat is the narrowness of the aft door openings, which necessitates a bit of gymnastics to board or alight.

Like any modern vehicle, this one has several displays. Of course, there’s a digital instrument cluster, but the real star of the show is a 14-inch touchscreen that’s home to an intuitive and responsive infotainment system, one that supports both wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This multimedia array also incorporates a digital assistant (included with a Drive Connect trial or subscription), which can help you operate certain vehicle functions like the HVAC system, control media playback and even answer questions. Additionally, this infotainment offering incorporates cloud-based navigation and Google points of interest that are always up to date. This setup can also automatically suggest alternate routes if road conditions change.

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The NX’s interior is lovely. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Lexus’ infotainment system works well and incorporates some physical controls. There’s a centrally mounted volume knob (yay!) that’s flanked by a pair of large, easy-to-use temperature dials, though, curiously, the fan speed and other climate control functions are located on the touchscreen.

A digital key is available, too, so you can access the vehicle using just your supported smartphone (and a Remote Connect subscription, of course). The NX also offers automatic parking, both parallel and perpendicular as well as entry and exit, so it’s never been easier to squeeze into — or get out of — a tight spot.

What about cargo space? How much does the NX 450h+ offer? Behind the rear seat there’s 22.7 cubes, and if you fold the 60/40 split backrest down, that figure increase to just shy of 47. Either way, this Lexus is slightly less spacious than what is arguably its No.1 rival, the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring, which is also a plug-in hybrid. The Lincoln has nearly 27 cubes behind its aft bench and more than 56 with the backrest folded; you also get slightly more legroom in the rear and a tiny bit more headroom, too, compared to NXs fitted with a moonroof.

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There’s a good amount of space inside the NX. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Dimensionally, this Lexus rolls on a 105.9-inch wheelbase and is 183.5 inches long. The Lincoln hub-to-hub span is slightly longer at 106.7 inches, though the body is a skosh shorter at just 181.4. As for weight, the NX 450h+ clocks in at about 4,475 pounds, while the Grand Touring is 4,397.

Aside from similar dimensions, these two luxury SUVs also have very comparable powertrains. The NX 450h+ has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s matched to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission, basically a couple of motor-generators and a fancy gearset. There’s also an additional motor at the rear axle, which provides all-wheel drive.

Since this is a plug-in hybrid, there’s also a battery pack, and it provides up to 37 miles of electric-only range, which is an excellent figure. Total system output for this Lexus is 304 horsepower. When the gasoline engine and all those electric motors are working together, this vehicle delivers strong performance, 0 to 60 mph in around 6 seconds, however, in EV mode, when running solely on battery power, the acceleration is tepid at best. The vehicle scoots decently off the line but quickly runs out of steam, especially at highway speeds where it becomes downright pokey.

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There’s a surprising amount of room in the backseat. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Provided there’s enough juice in the battery pack, the NX 450h+ defaults to EV mode, which is great for efficient, everyday motoring, but curiously, if you floor the accelerator pedal the combustion engine does not automatically engage to provide more power, which can leave you feeling flat-footed at inopportune times. There are two incredibly confusing buttons on the center console that allow you to switch between electric mode, hybrid mode and others, but you seemingly have to do this manually if you want the gasoline engine to play ball.

As for fuel economy, expect 36 miles per gallon in mixed driving when operated as a hybrid. Running solely off the battery, this NX should return around 84 MPGe. You can Level 1 or Level 2 AC charge this vehicle’s traction battery through a CCS port on the rear fender. Hooked to a 240-volt power source, the standard 3.3-kilowatt onboard charger can fully juice the pack in roughly 4.5 hours, but if you opt for the available 6.6-kW unit (an $800 option), that time drops to about 2.5 hours.

Just like this Lexus, the Corsair Grand Touring features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an eCVT and all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, the Lincoln only has 266 system hp and its electric range is estimated at 32 miles, 5 fewer than the NX.

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This powertrain provides and estimated 37 miles of electric range. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Aside from either brisk or boring acceleration depending on what powertrain mode is selected, the NX450h+ is otherwise pleasant to drive. The steering is light to the touch and crisp, which gives this plug-in-hybrid SUV an agile feel. The ride quality is well controlled and the interior stays nice and quiet, no matter how fast you’re going, though some four-cylinder engine sounds can be heard at times, though that 2.5-liter unit is noticeably quieter in this application than in other Toyota vehicles.

Helping prevent crashes or at least reduce the severity if one is unavoidable, Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 is standard on the NX. This includes a range of useful features like a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, which can help you avoid hitting obstacles that are in your lane of travel. There’s road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control with lane centering and Proactive Driving Assist, an amenity that provides gentle braking in turns or steering support to help you maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, pedestrians and even cyclists.

The 2024 Lexus NX 450h+ is unexpectedly enjoyable thanks to its upscale interior, surprising roominess and efficient performance. As it sits, this vehicle is priced at $64,880 including $1,150 in destination fees and $4,975 in options. Extras padding the bottom line include $1,070 for a package that includes a 360-degree camera system and a couple other amenities, $200 for a rearview mirror camera, $460 for illuminated door sills and $95 for wheel locks, among other options.

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The NX 450h+ is a surprisingly nice plug-in hybrid. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

If you’re searching for a pleasant SUV with a richly trimmed interior and a super-efficient powertrain, look no further than this Lexus. As plug-in hybrids go, the NX 450h+ is one of the best, though, if you’re not quite ready for that, you can always opt for a conventional, non-plug-in hybrid model or even an NX with a conventional gasoline engine. There’s plenty of choice with this vehicle, and that’s great news.

At a glance

  • Year: 2024
  • Make: Lexus
  • Model: NX
  • Trim: 450h+
  • Type: Plug-in hybrid luxury SUV
  • Max system horsepower: 304
  • Combined MPG rating: 36
  • MPGe rating: 84
  • Electric range: 37 miles
  • Pros: Excellent all-electric range, luxury trimmings, interior comfort, fuel efficiency, good charging performance
  • Cons: As-tested price is a bit steep, exterior styling not for everyone, narrow rear door openings
  • Estimated Base price: $59,905
  • As-tested price: $64,880 including $1,150 in destination fees
Written by Craig Cole

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