Is the Lexus NX the world's best hybrid SUV?

The Lexus NX 350h joints the Honest John fleet. Will it live up to the hype?

Date: 18 March 2022 | Current mileage: 358 | Claimed economy: 44.1-47.9mpg | Actual economy: 46.2mpg

The Lexus NX hybrid SUV is, according to you, the readers, one of the best cars in the world. A bold claim? Perhaps, but one that's not without merit. 

The Honest John Satisfaction Index has been lifting the lid on the UK's best and worst cars since 2017. Each year, we ask you to review your cars and score them out of 10 in a number of important areas, which includes comfort, fuel economy, ease of use, build quality and practicality.

Each year you give us your feedback. And each year Lexus comes out on top. In 2021, for the second year in a row, the Japanese manufacturer was rated as the best carmaker for reliability. Lexus was also voted the second-best car manufacturer for owner satisfaction, with its score of 90.6 per cent being just a single point behind first-placed Dacia. Impressive stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. 

These successes have mostly been powered by the old-shape NX SUV - with high scores for comfort, fuel economy, build quality and value. Will the new 2022 model live up to the hype? There’s only one way to find out…

Lexus NX 350h 3

Over the next six months, I'll be living with the new Lexus NX to find out if it can cut it as a world-beating SUV. The test will start with a three-month review of the entry-level NX 350h AWD (all-wheel drive) model, followed by a three-month review of the 450h plug-in hybrid. This should provide the full NX experience, so I can see if this Japanese SUV is really as good as you say it is. 

The NX 350h is a 'self-charging' hybrid; that means it is driven by a pair of electric motors, a battery pack and a 2.5-litre petrol engine to provide 244PS and low running costs. The 450h is based on the same car, but gets more power (309PS) and a plug that will allow it to cover up to 47 miles on pure electricity. 

Being the premium brand of Toyota, the 350h (pictured) isn't cheap. The range starts at £39,750, while our test car tips the scales at £42,420 when you include options. That puts it up against some notable German competition from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

First impressions of the 350h are positive; the NX looks great in its Celestial Blue metallic paintwork. It is also generously equipped as standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, touchscreen navigation and heated seats all included. What's more, over the past two weeks, the 350h has already started delivering its claimed economy. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

The Lexus NX gets a much-needed infotainment upgrade

Are you looking for the best Lexus infotainment upgrade of all time? Dan Powell thinks he's found it in the NX.

Date: 1 April 2022 | Current mileage: 717 | Claimed economy: 44.1-47.9mpg | Actual economy: 48.1mpg

I was never a fan of the Lexus Remote Touch Interface. Baffling, frustrating and accompanied by 1990s' styled computer graphics, the old infotainment system would transform even the smallest of tasks into a frustrating series of puzzles that would confuse even the great Ernő Rubik.

Thankfully those days are now a distant memory because the NX has been given a much-needed infotainment upgrade in the shape of the new Lexus Link Connect system. And there isn't a touchpad or misshapen computer pixel anywhere to be seen. 

All versions of the NX are fitted with touchscreen infotainment. The standard 350h model, like the one tested here, gets the 9.8-inch system. While pricer models, like the 450h, are fitted with the Lexus Link Pro 14-inch High Definition touchscreen. Being a man of simple pleasures, I'd opted for the standard system to see how it stacks up against the competition. 

As you can see from the picture below, the 9.8-inch screen is bright and easy to read. The controls are arranged in a vertical row on the right of the display and this means you can press one of the digital buttons to access the navigation, music, phone or key car data. You can access many of these functions via the steering wheel controls, too

Lexus Cabin

Lexus Link Connect has 2.4 times the computing power of the infotainment system found in the old NX 350h, thanks to a new CPU. This means you get fast screen changes and super smooth computer graphics that make the glare-free screen easy to read and operate. 

Unlike some of its rivals, the sat nav is always connected, which means it's always scouring online road reports for traffic delays, accidents or hazardous weather conditions. When it finds a flaw in the UK's road system it'll ask you if you'd like to make a change to your route. And then, with a simple press of the screen or steering wheel control, you're automatically directed away from trouble. 

I experienced this first-hand last week when I was driving from my home in Devon to Essex. The plan was to visit my parents for the weekend but the M5 was a bit of a mess. Thankfully, within five minutes of hitting the road, the system was busy making changes to the route to avoid a long tailback at junction 30 of the M5. Admittedly, the new directions involved some narrow Devon lanes but I dodged the delays and made it to my parents' house, some 242 miles away, in under five hours. Impressive stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

However, while I'm genuinely impressed with the fancy in-car tech, it's the NX's low running costs and wonderful ride quality that is truly blowing me away. The seats are among the best of any SUV I've ever tested and ride quality is mind-bogglingly good. Add in the 48mpg and it's easy to see why Lexus is always one of the stars in the annual Honest John Satisfaction Index

How to drive a hybrid car and get the best mpg

How can you get the best fuel economy out of the Lexus NX 350h hybrid? Dan thinks he has cracked the mpg formula.

Date: 15 April 2022 | Current mileage: 1206 | Claimed economy: 44.1-47.9mpg | Actual economy: 49.3mpg

How do you drive a hybrid car to get the best fuel economy mpg? It's a question we get asked a lot at and the answer is surprisingly straightforward - take it slow and steady.

Squeezing the best mpg out of a hybrid SUV, like the Lexus NX 350h, does require a little understanding of the ways of a 'self-charging' hybrid. Otherwise, you may struggle to comprehend why the engine will switch itself off at random. 

Hybrid cars are complicated things that are surprisingly easy to understand. In short, it's a combustion engine paired with an electric motor. When the engine is running, it charges the battery and drives the electric motor. And when the battery has enough charge it'll shut down the engine and power the vehicle with pure electricity.  

The lithium-ion battery pack is located under the car floor and can also be recharged by regenerative braking, a system that converts otherwise wasted energy into useful, money-saving electricity. The whole process is illustrated in the NX 350h via simple animation that's shown in real time via the infotainment screen (pictured below).

  NX 350h Interior

So, you understand how a self-charging hybrid works, how can you use this knowledge to save you money? Well, the key is running the car on electricity for as long as physically possible. You do this by being gentle with the throttle and avoiding the temptation to thump your right foot whenever you pull away from a junction.  

The NX 350h will happily scoot around town on pure electricity for five minutes until the battery runs out of juice or you head out of town and exceed 30mph. During my time with the 350h I consistently get 60 - 70mpg at urban speeds, which is extremely impressive for an SUV that weighs the best part of two tonnes and draws its petrol from a 2.5-litre engine. 

As well as being gentle on the throttle, it's important to change the way you approach junctions, corners and hills. Regenerative braking works best when you apply gentle force. This will maximise the regen braking and also make your journeys much smoother. All versions of the NX have a regenerative brake bar on the driver's display which shows you how much energy is being fed back into the battery. And you can easily add 10 per cent to your average mpg by ensuring every inch of this energy is fed back into the battery. 

Motorway travel will lower the average mpg to 40mpg, but over the past two weeks, my mixture of short and long trips has given me a fortnightly average of 49mpg. And with fuel prices being as high as they are, the NX 350h has proven itself to be a hybrid SUV that's easy on the wallet. Just make sure you take it nice and steady.

What's the best SUV for comfort?

Is you are looking for a comfortable SUV with supportive seats and a soft ride quality then the Lexus NX will be very much for you.

Date: 29 April 2022 | Current mileage: 1679 | Claimed economy: 44.1-47.9mpg | Actual economy: 49.3mpg

If you are looking for the best 4x4 SUV for comfort then look no further than the Lexus NX 350h - it's a gem of a car that delivers a wonderful ride quality that laughs in the face of potholes and speed humps. 

Lexus has always performed strongly for comfort in the annual Honest John Satisfaction Index, with the old shape NX receiving high marks every year for its ride quality. However, after spending a couple of months behind the wheel of the new NX, I think Lexus has outdone itself and built a car that's head and shoulders above its predecessor. 

Even in the cheapest trim level of the NX (as tested here) the seats are wide, firm and supportive. This means you don't get any of those painful cramps in your thigh muscles after a long trip. The back support is excellent too, while the firm cushions and side bolsters provide good padding for the lower back and spine. 

The ride quality is silky smooth, too. This is aided by the NX's excellent suspension which irons out road imperfections with ease. The 350h runs on 18-inch wheels as standard, with 235/60R tyres that have thick sidewalls which absorb a lot of the vibrations that unkempt roads can rattle into the cabin. 


The NX 350h's relaxing nature is aided by its excellent hybrid system that wafts you along in silence at low speeds. The E-CVT gearbox transfers power to all four wheels in a smooth manner and the NX's high level of standard equipment makes parking a breeze, with the 360 sensors and rear camera guiding the 1805mm wide and 4660mm long Lexus into standard parking space with the minimal fuss.

That said, I don't think everyone will find the NX 350h as relaxing as I do. Indeed, if you have a heavy right foot or a rough 'n' ready driving style then you'll probably find your Lexus drive to be a noisy and unpleasant experience.

Why? The NX 350h is a car that embraces a smooth and refined driving style. It's not a vehicle that's designed to be driven hard or fast, which is reflected in the loud drone the engine emits in protest when you thump the throttle. Likewise, the body has a tendency to roll if you pitch it heavily into a tight corner at speed or brake late and hard.

However, if you want a comfortable and relaxing SUV that will deliver 40mpg on the motorway and 60 - 70mpg in town then the NX 350h should be at the top of your shortlist. It's truly a wonderful thing to pass the miles in and one of the best cars for comfort that I've driven in a very long time.

Audi Q5 vs Lexus NX - which is best?

Audi Q5 and the Lexus NX are key rivals, but which one should you spend your hard earned cash on?

Date: 13 May 2022 | Current mileage: 2150 | Claimed economy: 44.1-47.9mpg | Actual economy: 49.3mpg

How does the Lexus NX stack up against the Audi Q5? Both are comfortable and practical family SUVs that promise a premium driving experience. But which is most deserving of your hard-earned cash? 

Audi doesn't offer the Q5 as a self-charging hybrid but the 2.0-litre 45 TFSI petrol does get mild-hybrid tech that uses a 12V battery and small electric motor to boost performance and fuel economy. It can't run on pure electricity at low speeds, like the Lexus, but it will produce 265PS and return up to 33.6mpg.

The first notable difference between the Q5 and NX is the way the two cars drive. The handling of the Audi is sharper and the steering wheel provides a lot more feedback than the Lexus. The NX 350 isn't a bad car to drive, in any sense, but its comfort focussed set-up means the handling can occasionally feel a little woolly when tackling a series of challenging curves on the road. 

The Audi's sportier set-up does produce a hard ride quality, which ranges from the firm side of comfortable 18/19-inch wheels to very hard on the 20s and 21s. This means even the smallest road imperfections produce a small thump as the suspension transfers the impact to the Q5's occupants. Hit some potholes and that thump is amplified into a series of loud thuds that will make your passengers question your driving and wonder if you’ve flattened some small animals along the way. 

Q5 Pic 2

Thumps, thuds and things that go bump in the night are all alien to the NX 350h. The deep profile tyres on 18-inch wheels will smooth out pretty much everything that comes their way, which means it'll take all of these things in its stride. The fact the Lexus runs on pure electricity at low speeds adds to the feeling of serenity, which means it's a much more relaxing thing to drive below 30mph. 

The interior of the Lexus is better, too. The seats are more comfortable, the cabin feels more spacious and you get a 545-litre boot that is more practical than the 510 in the Q5. The NX's comfort really shines through on a long journey - I regularly drive from my home in Devon to London and the seats in the Lexus provide excellent support, which means you don't get those aches or pains in your upper legs or lower back after an hour or two (which isn't something I could say for the S Line Q5 on test here with its sport seats).

Things fall further in the NX 350h's favour when you compare running costs. Yes, the Q5 is quicker with its 265PS engine performance producing crisp acceleration. And yes, I admit the NX's 2.5-litre petrol hybrid system will emit a loud groan as you load the throttle to join a fast-moving motorway. But the NX 350h will return 44.1 - 47.9mpg - that's 10+ more than the Q5. And in a world where petrol costs the earth, that’s a huge feather in its cap. 

Perhaps, being over 40, I'm showing my age when I favour the soft and efficient NX 350h over the Q5 45 TFSI. But in my view, it's a much better car. It's more comfortable, cheaper to run and more practical. Sorry Audi, Lexus wins this round.

What is the number one car manufacturer for reliability?

Will a Lexus car provide years of trouble free motoring? How reliable are Lexus cars like the NX?

Date: 27 May 2022 | Current mileage: 2850 | Claimed economy: 44.1-47.9mpg | Actual economy: 48.0mpg

Lexus builds the most reliable cars, according to the Honest John Satisfaction Index. For the past two years, Lexus has been named the best car manufacturer for reliability. In 2021, it achieved an average reliability score of 9.81 out of 10. Truly incredible stuff. 

Given that Lexus is the luxury car division of Toyota, I guess we shouldn't be all that surprised. The Japanese carmaker is a byword for reliability in the office and has a solid reputation for building cars that rarely let their customers down. If you disagree, you can tell us by taking part in the 2022 Honest John Satisfaction Index.

The manufacturer's faith in its build quality is backed up by its Relax warranty service, which will cover Toyota and Lexus vehicles for up to 10 years. The bean counters at Toyota clearly don't think they'll be paying out for many of those warranty claims. And why should they? Their cars are tougher than coffin nails.

It's difficult to put a value on a car that's super reliable. Certainly, with the NX, you get a feeling of satisfaction that borders smugness because you know it'll never let you down or cost you the earth to run.


I had this slightly smug feeling when I visited Belgium recently, with the NX 350h's comfortable and dependable nature taking the stress out of what could have been a nightmare journey to Bruges. Not only were the roads to Dover chockablock with delays but problems at the ferry port meant sailings were leaving at half the frequency they should have been. 

Yet, like one of those squidgy de-stress balls, the NX has a knack of taking the sting out of a situation. Stuck in a jam in boiling hot weather? No problem, the silent electric motor operates the air con when you're stationary. Stop-start traffic? Fine, let adaptive cruise control take the strain. Got a bad back? The NX's brilliant seats will sort that out.

The NX 350h does have some shortcomings: the engine is noisy under heavy acceleration, the steering is overpowered and the touchscreen can be painfully slow to use. Yet, as a premium SUV package, the Lexus is a car that works extremely well. 

Some badge snobs may not see Lexus as a viable alternative to Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. But I say their loss is your gain because the NX 350h is a brilliant premium SUV.