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2022 Lexus NX: The trackpad is dead, 4 other things to know

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The Lexus NX gets a complete redesign for the 2022 model year, and while the overall shape will look fairly familiar in an evolved kind of way, the technology this all-new vehicle contains is next level.

While we haven’t had the chance to test drive it yet, we did get about 20 minutes of alone time to poke, prod and play with this vehicle. And it looks pretty damn cool.

So, here are just five things you absolutely need to know about the all-new NX.

New Lexus design cues debut in the 2022 NX

During the media briefing, Lexus made a point of telling us that the all-new NX would be showcasing the design future of the entire brand. So, there are a few things that have changed and one thing that is missing.

If you look front and center at the grille, you’ll notice that the design of the spindle has changed subtly. So, both the overall shape, which gets the pinch closer to the top, and the texture points within the grille itself are new.

At the back of the vehicle, in addition to a light bar that bisects the rear hatch, you’ll see what’s missing: the traditional circle L logo. Instead, it’s replaced by an all-caps “Lexus” in a new font.

There is a plug-in hybrid

The addition of a plug-in hybrid is a Lexus first. We’ve seen Toyota do PHEVs with varying degrees of success, but post-RAV4 Prime, which is amazing, it makes sense to move this cool tech over to the luxury side.

The 2022 NX PHEV will be dubbed the NX 450h+, and the PHEV system will be mated to the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine, which will deliver 302 horsepower and promises a 36-mile all-EV range.

There are three additional powertrains including a base 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine (NX 250), a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine (NX 350) and hybrid system with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors (NX 350h).

The trackpad is dead

Cue the hallelujah. Both the trackpad and mouse controller have gone the way of the Dodo, and what replaces it in the 2022 NX is a pretty cool new touchscreen system, called Interface. While I haven’t had the chance to spend a significant amount of time with the system, just poking around at it for 20 minutes, I did find it to be much more intuitive than previous Lexus infotainment systems. And, it seems like it’s generally a much better system than most infotainment systems currently out there.

The standard screen size will be 9.8 inches with an available 14-inch screen.

What makes it so great? First, while the system is designed as a touch screen, it’s also intended to operate via voice commands in natural language, and in addition to your typical commands like “call mom and dad” or “navigate to home,” you can operate climate controls and window openings with your voice.

PS: There’s still a volume knob.

Wireless stuff abounds

In concert with the new Interface system, you get a lot of tech forward phone stuff. First, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not only standard but also wireless. Then there’s an available wireless charger.

But the really cool thing is going to be the digital key and corresponding user profile. We’ve talked about using a phone as a key before with vehicles such as the Lincoln Nautilus. Once you’ve created a profile on your phone, you can ditch the key fob and use your phone as the key fob. Keep it in your purse or pocket, and when the phone is within Bluetooth proximity of the vehicle, you can unlock, lock and start your vehicle.

But here’s the really cool thing: Once you create a profile on Interface, it’s stored in the cloud, and you can literally take it with you from vehicle to vehicle, transferring your personal settings to other vehicles you’re driving that also have Interface.

e-latches replace handles

This one will take some getting used to if you’re a grab-a-door-handle kind of person. Both on the inside and outside of the vehicle, there are basically touchpads that open the door. Don’t freak out, though: There are manual overrides built in, so if the battery dies, you won’t get stuck inside the vehicle.

Alongside this e-latch tech, Lexus is also debuting safe exit technology, which means that if the 2022 NX detects a vehicle or cyclist coming up from behind, the door won’t open. If you’re starring in action movie, however, and trying to knock a bad guy off his bike, there’s an override for this, too – simply hold the e-latch button for 3 seconds or do a double-pull of the manual override latch.

The bottom line on the 2022 NX

I have to admit, after Lexus launched the UX, I thought the NX became irrelevant. The size wasn’t that different, and there was nothing really special about it. Except maybe the secret mirror that would let you do a last minute no-broccoli-in-the-teeth check before heading into the office.

That changes with the 2022 NX. The design is tightened up, and the technology is pretty damn cool. If it the tech operates as seamlessly as it promises to, this is a game changer.

Editor’s note: Images in the gallery are a mix of photos taken by Jill Ciminillo and provided by Lexus. First-look access to this vehicle was courtesy of an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Toyota Motor Sales covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is a syndicated automotive writer. Jill also manages the “Drive, She Said” blog for ChicagoNow and posts reviews to DriveChicago. She is the president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. She also serves as a judge for the Automotive Heritage Foundation Journalism Awards. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and Pioneer Press Newspapers.

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