A funny thing happened when I was out to test drive a 2022 Lexus NX450h+ compact SUV. became more expensive.
Its starting price of $57,300 didn’t change, but while I was on the road, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, excluding him from the $7,500 federal tax credit.
That’s because it’s made in Japan and the revamped incentive program that was on the bill is only available for vehicles built in North America, even if they’re already for sale.
Lexus hasn’t said if it plans to adjust pricing to compensate, but with the hot car market right now, I don’t expect that soon. Especially since the NX450h+ is very hot.
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It is based on the same platform as the Toyota Rav4 Prime, which also lost credit eligibility, and shares its all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain.
In a Lexus, it’s rated at 304 hp, which makes the greener version of the NX the most powerful as well.
It combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that drives the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission with a second electric motor that independently drives the rear axle.
It’s good for a combined fuel economy rating of 36 mpg, which I’ve found easily surpasses in the real world.
That’s after depleting the charge in the 18.1 kWh battery pack, which provides enough juice for up to 37 miles of all-electric driving before you have to burn any gasoline at all.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the typical driver who starts each day on a full charge will see the equivalent of 84 mpg in normal use.
The NX450h+ can be switched between EV and Hybrid mode at any time, so you can save battery when you want to be the quietest.
You only get a full 304 horsepower in hybrid mode when there’s some juice left, however, and Lexus doesn’t mention exactly how powerful it is in EV mode, even though the front motor is at 182 horsepower and the rear at 54 horsepower. Whatever the case, it’s more than enough to get around with ease, while hybrid power is plenty for a car this size.
The passenger cabin is spacious and luxurious in the Lexus style. The dashboard isn’t wrapped in luxury materials, but the leather upholstery and trim are decent for the price. The 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use and much better than the console-mounted touchpad on the previous generation NX.
A 360-degree camera that creates a virtual view of what’s under the car is available as part of a $1,070 options package. It includes Forward Traffic Alert, which warns you of approaching vehicles from the sides at intersections on the head-up display as well as Lane Change Assist, which checks for vehicles and steers itself into the next lane when the turn signal is tapped during standard adaptive cruise control centered on the vehicle. The lane is active.
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Another significant option is the $800 6.6 kW charging system, which cuts charging time from 4.5 hours to 2.5 hours when using a 240V charger. The NX450h+ is not compatible with generic quick chargers that can fully charge electric vehicles in less than an hour. It’s meant to be filled at home at night when prices are cheap. Hybrid driving capability means you don’t have to charge up the road on long trips, and it can tow up to 2,000 pounds while you’re in one.
No matter what driving mode you’re in, it’s as quiet as you can expect from a compact car, the ride is as smooth as glass and the 10-speaker audio system is crystal clear. The F Sport model is also offered that has a computer-controlled suspension, but I doubt most people will feel they need it.
One of the things you need to get used to is how the doors open. There are thumb latches in the handles which are not easy to use, so remember to let your passengers know when they get on the plane. If the car loses power, you should tow it twice instead to unlock it as an emergency backup.
With its long electric driving range, comprehensive improvement and predictable reliability, the NX450h+ is a strong contender for similarly sized luxury plug-ins like the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring and Volvo XC60 Recharge, but losing that tax credit is painful. Having said that, it probably didn’t matter much, anyway.
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Toyota and Lexus have sold so many extra hybrids over the years that the balances for both would start phasing out in October under the old program by cutting in half and then halving again next April before disappearing completely by the end of September 2023.
2022 Lexus 450h + Luxury
Type: 5-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel drive
Base price: $57,300
Powertrain: 2.5L 4-Cylinder Hybrid
Torque: 304 HP
Transmission: CVT automatic transmission
MPG: 36 combined
EV range: 37 miles