By: Kai Yeo, Vaughn Lowery, Armon Hayes, Emily Bunn x Sydney Mayer
Lexus has announced its brand new 2022 NX model, equipped with updated technology and driving dynamics. Toyota and Lexus invited 360 Magazine to fly out with Delta Comfort+ to visit the automaker’s headquarters in Texas, so the company embarked on a Covid-friendly, four-day lifestyle trip for the first time since the pandemic. The trip offered participants the opportunity to experience the new 2022 Lexus NX, learn about Lexus’s initiatives and launches for the near future, and even ride with celebrity drivers like Scott Pruett.
The headquarters in Plano, TX is a state-of-the-art corporate campus oasis. The architecture displays outstanding craftsmanship and an innovative foundation, which are the principles upon which that Toyota was founded. Meredith Ezinma Ramsay, – classical hip-hop violinist who has worked with artists such as SZA, Kendrick Lamar, and most famously with Beyoncé on her Coachella stage – performed a strings piece at the campus to introduce the Lexus NX 2022.
Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel
The Renaissance Dallas was breathtaking. An anchor to the upscale complex of Legacy West in Plano, the cosmopolitan hotel was located in the city within walking distance of top dining and shopping options. Drink in hand, visitors can gather at the rooftop pool or by the fire pit to relax and enjoy our food. The rooms were also equipped with pillow-top bedding, high-speed Wi-Fi, and a smart TV.
Designed to highlight local and regional cultures, Renaissance Dallas allows guests to immerse themselves in a creative blend of North Texas western influences and Asian culture. The hotel prides itself on “West of Zen” visual art experiences, as well as an urban mixed-use development. As Lexus is a brand that originated from Japan, this theme was fitting for the trip. Simply staying in the hotel was already a vacation in itself.
Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Toyota. Marketed in more than 70 countries and territories worldwide, the Lexus brand is Japan’s largest-selling maker of premium cars. Akio Toyoda, current CEO and grandson of Toyota founder, has promoted sports models like the Lexus IS-F and Lexus LF-A at auto races. He also participates as a driver at racing events under the fake name “Morizo.” It’s unusual to see a brand’s president be so hands-on with development, but that’s just another reason that Toyota is a unique company prepared to lead the future.
Since the pandemic started, global mobility has been essentially halted and there has been a huge financial downturn, even for the giants of the car manufacturing industry. AutoBlog has posted that Toyota hit their decade’s lowest sales in 2019, “The Japanese automaker said its sales in July fell 19% versus the same month in 2019, to 169,484 units.“ Despite being one of the top brands of car manufacturing, Toyota was also affected by the Covid crisis, “In its financial year (FY) ending in March 2021, Toyota only produced 7.55M units of vehicles compared to 8.82M in FY 2020. FY 2021’s figure is also the lowest number of vehicles produced by Toyota since FY 2012 when Toyota only produced 7.44M vehicles.“
As they compete with Volkswagen for the top car brand spot and struggle with sales during the pandemic, Toyota continues to produce car models with strong, new developments.
The NX will be available in a variety of fresh colors, including Redline, Cloudburst Gray, and Grecian Water. There will also be options that include Ultra White, Obsidian, and Ultra Sonic Blue Mica 2.0, which are exclusive to the F Sport NX models.
Luxury Inside and Out
The 2022 NX will also have additional updates made to alleviate interior cabin noise and reduce exterior distractions. On the inside, drivers can choose their nature theme of choice with Thematic Ambient Illumination, an optional feature that transforms the NX interior with 14 themes and 64 colors. Each mode has been carefully selected “to express ephemeral emotions and evoke nature-inspired feelings.” The themes included are Rain Forest, Waterfall, and Sunset.
Luxury is not only about looks, but also about how the customer feels. The new NX comes with standard heated front seats and optional heated rear seats for added comfort throughout the cabin. Increased head and legroom, as well as storage space, have also been added. Interior seat and console colors come in Black, Black with Rich Cream, Palomino, and Rioja Red NuLuxe.
For the NX’s first time, the panoramic moonroof lets passengers see the sky with the push of a button. The smooth gliding opening and closing elevates the luxury feel and provides easy stargazing and airflow.
Cockpit Design and New Multimedia System
The NX driver-centered cockpit has been updated with the driver in mind. To better connect the driver to the vehicle, the new 7-inch Multi Instrument Display (MID) and optional 10-inch Head Up Display (HUD) are designed to convey vehicle information as well as alerts within the driver’s line of sight. All functions are accessible through the steering wheel to allow for intuitive operation while still ensuring safe driving practices and keeping the driver’s eyes on the road.
An optional 14-inch touch screen (first for NX) features an immersive multimedia experience. The large screen allows for easy operation and viewing. Dial controls remain for frequently used functions such as climate control and media volume, and comfort features are readily accessible. This all-new interface allows the NX to integrate and navigate swiftly, providing intuitive technology at the driver’s fingertips. Equipped with Human Machine Interface (HMI), user interaction is enhanced through sight, touch and voice, thus catering to accessibility needs. Following the customer-first approach, the newly developed Virtual Assistant (VA) is intended to be the primary way occupants interact with the new multimedia system. The voice-first approach allows front seat occupants to access features such as navigation, media, phone, and other vehicle settings. The built-in VA responses allow for intuitive replies, thus creating a human-like conversation.
The Lexus Interface was devised with function and easy access in mind. 100% cloud capability and Google POI integration allows the system to have faster and more accurate navigation to get the driver and passengers to their destination quickly and safely. Enhanced navigation allows for offline mode, which detects when vehicles enter areas with low connection and then automatically downloads maps in advance, saving trouble and panic.
In the age of digital transformation, the user profile feature creates a more personalized experience so that moving from vehicle to vehicle is convenient. The driver’s personalized settings will be retained on the cloud and are accessible each time they return to the vehicle. Once created, users can use a Bluetooth device to access their profile. An extension of the user profile feature, vehicles equipped with this new system will enable owners the access to a digital key. This digital key allows drivers to lock/unlock and start/stop their vehicle through the Toyota of Lexus app (when within Bluetooth proximity to the vehicle). The digital key can be shared with up to seven different guest users and no password or PIN is required, creating a seamless guest experience via the app.
Through the app, drivers also receive personalized maintenance updates and vehicle health reports to help maintain their vehicle. For the 2022 model, Lexus NX will also feature standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, as well as a new addition to charge your phone wirelessly.
With the safety of all passengers in mind, the new Lexus NX will come equipped with the latest Lexus Safety System +3.0 for safe driving. Functions of the system include:
- Risk Avoidance Emergency Steer Assist – supports collision avoidance within the lane by providing gentle braking and steering operation.
- Left Turn Oncoming Vehicle Detection/Braking – designed to provide a warning and automatic braking if the driver turns left in front of an oncoming vehicle.
- Right/Left Turn Oncoming Pedestrian Detection/Braking – designed to provide a warning and automatic braking if a driver turns left or right in front of an oncoming pedestrian or cyclist.
- Oncoming Vehicle Detection added to the Pre-Collision System – designed to alert the driver, and potentially activate automatic emergency braking to help avoid a frontal collision.
- Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Curve Speed Management – maintains a cruising speed in alignment with the flow of traffic while managing speed on curves.
Additions to the current Lexus Safety System features for NX:
- Road Sign Assist – displays select road sign information in the instrument panel.
- Pre-collision System – provides the potential to detect a preceding vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist in low-light situations.
- Lane Assistance – designed to provide an audible alert if an inadvertent lane departure is detected.
- Intelligent High Beam– provides greater visibility for drivers with added illumination when the road ahead is clear, then temporarily switches to low beams when it detects the headlamps or taillamps of vehicles ahead.
- Road Sign Assist – uses a built-in camera to help provide road sign information in the instrument panel or even on the available Head-Up Display. The system can also alert the driver of certain detected signs that otherwise might have been missed.
- Safety Exit – seamless door opening with the push of a button, when activated it makes sure that door does not open when there are passers-by such as bikes or pedestrians. Available for rear doors as well for protection of children and family.
These safety features provide peace of mind for unexpected emergencies and connect drivers with a 24/7 emergency response agent.
The all-new 2022 NX will start production in the third quarter of 2021. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
New NX 350 2.4 Turbo Engine
Enhancements in vehicle rigidity now allows the NX for a higher horsepower 2.4 turbo gas engine. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but the new 8-speed transmission also provides the gas-powered NX with the feel of a performance vehicle with the perspective of a crossover utility vehicle. The turbo gas-powered engine has an estimated 275 horsepower and 317lbs. per foot of torque. When combined, the engine results in a 0–60 second time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the previous models.
This is made possible by improvements to torsional rigidity through laser peening welding and the addition of high rigidity foam. The twin hood lock also adds front lateral flexural rigidity that improves the aerodynamics of the vehicle.
NX 450h+ Plug-In Hybrid
The new plug-in hybrid PHEV system brings Lexus Electrified to life through performance and design, as well as through the signature quietness of this model. The NX 450h+ has an estimated 36-mile range on electric power only, made possible by the newly developed lithium-ion battery. The system achieves the EV output equivalent to a 2.0-liter engine. When combined with the newly developed hybrid transaxle, a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine delivers on the performance luxury guests are seeking with an estimated 6.0 second 0–60 second time.
The high-output and high-efficiency systems were constructed to reduce power loss when converting AC power to DC power, resulting in shorter charging times. The NX plug-in hybrid can be fully charged in about two and a half hours when equipped with the optional 6.6 kW Expedited Onboard Charger. With the standard 3.3 kW charger, it will take about four and a half hours.
For a sporty driving experience, the NX 450h+ uses a newly developed, electronically-controlled, full-time AWD system. Optimizing front and rear torque distribution according to the driving conditions, the driver can control the vehicle as intended, with elegant control for a wide range of driving styles.
Along with the navigation, Predictive Efficient Drive will be coupled to learn driving habits and predict the expected roadway ahead while analyzing real-time traffic reports. This helps to optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery. With more miles clocked on the NX, more data is gathered to help optimize fuel consumption. With accumulated knowledge about the driver’s behavior, the system will be able to predict when the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop. This allows for more efficient energy to be recovered and recharged into the hybrid battery, optimizing battery capacity for the electricity plug-in hybrid model. While Lexus is unable to give us the exact specs yet, an official announcement will be made later on.
Hybrid Performance and Fuel Economy
Known for their signature driving performance, passengers can experience great performance and fuel economy with the new Lexus NX 350h. With a combined 239 horsepower, a 20% increase over the current model, and an estimated 36 MPG, the NX hybrid brings a brilliant performance that illustrates the brand’s hybrid leadership. Passengers will also be able to feel the quicker 0–60 time with 1.5 seconds taken off the time from previous NX generations at 7.2 seconds.
The hybrid drive system pairs the D4-S fuel injection 2.5L 4-cylinder gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators for strong acceleration and passing performance. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft for the rear wheels, the AWD system employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels to maintain optimal traction.
Teammate Advanced Drive Backgrounder
The Teammate advanced driver assistance will debut on select 2022 Lexus LS 500h models with AWD and is expected to arrive in the US this fall. The Level 2 system evolves from adaptive cruise control to automatically change lanes and pass vehicles while driving.
Designed to partner with and assist the driver on the highway, it enables automatic steering, acceleration, and braking on the highway under the active supervision of the driver. This technology also enables the car to parallel park itself or back into a parking spot. Lexus Teammate teams two systems: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.
Safety is the first priority of the automated driving development program, so Lexus has committed Advanced Drive to this cause. The Advanced Drive integrates the vehicle’s mapping system and plans 6 miles ahead to help reach the car’s destination. This benefits the driver by reducing fatigue from driving. A series of fail-safe operations are also included to help prevent loss of control for up to four seconds in the event of a system malfunction or limitation.
Developed in close coordination between Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor North America, engineers used the same test vehicles in both countries. This allowed for the development of U.S.-specific considerations, such as HOV lanes and draw bridges. These tests helped to incorporate catered design and performance into the Advanced Drive system.
Alongside the safety of passengers, the environment is also a top priority. Toyota and Lexus will debut a new, electrified model lineup, with two battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). These models are eco-friendly and brilliantly created, similar to a “Mission Impossible” movie.
The new electrified models further expand Toyota’s leadership in alternative powertrain vehicles. Toyota’s goal is to have 40% of new vehicle sales be electrified models and expects that to increase to nearly 70% by 2030. Toyota hybrid vehicles sold globally have avoided emitting an estimated 139 million tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. In the US alone, Toyota hybrid vehicles have avoided 38 million tons of GHG. This achievement was made possible with Toyota’s commitment to the environment.
Toyota’s internal research found that both the BEV and PHEV models provide similar environmental benefits. By factoring in pollutants created by electricity production and using it to charge batteries, the production of a PHEV emits less GHG. Both of these models have a unique profile and by diversifying their car portfolio, consumers will have a bigger range of models to choose from to best suit their usage needs and cost profile, while still maximizing GHG reduction.
At the press conference, Toyota promised 20 new models by 2025 for more sustainable development and looked to continue expanding their electrified car models. As further proof of Toyota’s commitment to the environment, they agreed to purchase power from a Clearway Energy Group wind farm to reduce the overall carbon footprint from electricity used from the power grid. For transparency and positive environmental impact, Toyota writes an annual environmental report to update its consumers.