Lexus NX 450h+

Specifications: Lexus NX 450h+ Takumi

  • Run by: Dan Powell since June 2022
  • Price when new: £59,700 (£60,620 including options)
  • Engine: 2.5-litre plug-in hybrid
  • Power: 309PS
  • Torque: 227Nm
  • Claimed economy: 313.9mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 26g/km
  • Insurance group: 41

Report 1: Should you buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid?

Should you buy a hybrid or PHEV Lexus NX? Dan compares the two cars to see which is best.

Date: 9 June 2022 | Current mileage: 501 | Claimed economy: 256.8 - 313.9mpg | Actual economy: 211.9mpg combined/58.1mpg when battery is depleted

If you are thinking of buying an electric car but are worried about range anxiety then a plug-in hybrid vehicle like the Lexus NX 450h+ could be for you: its 18.1kW battery provides an official EV range of 43 miles. And when the battery runs out of power you can rely on its 2.5-litre petrol engine to get you to your destination. 

The Lexus NX is one of an increasing number of cars that can be specified with hybrid or PHEV power. Regular readers will know that I spent three months with the NX 350h self-charging hybrid. Easy to drive, super comfortable and capable of returning 50+ mpg, the 350h is an SUV I rate very highly. 

That said, if you have access to an EV charger, the 450h+ is worth considering. It's more powerful than the 350h, with its petrol hybrid powertrain developing 305PS. You also get more miles for your money, with the 450h+'s advertised economy ranging from 256.8 - 313.9mpg (but more on that later). 

If you're a company car driver, the decision between the NX 350h and 450h+ will be an easy one. Many workplaces already offer free EV charging, while home charging rates will range from 5p to 15p-per-mile (depending on your electricity tariff). What's more, with CO2 emissions of 20 – 26g/km, the 450h+ is designed to return favourable company car tax rates. 

That said, the PHEV version of the NX is around £9,000 more expensive to buy than the self-charging hybrid model. Those lofty mpg figures for the 450h+ are also calculated with the batteries in varying states of charge, which means you need to plug it into a power supply at least once a week.

The latest Real MPG figures suggest that PHEVs tend to perform poorly for real world fuel economy. In my opinion, more needs to be done to educate drivers, as I'm not sure car buyers are being given the correct information by dealerships or manufacturers when it comes to living with a PHEV. The NX 450h+ is a case in point, with it returning 58mpg when the battery is depleted or 200+mpg when you get into the habit of charging the battery pack. 

Over the next three months, I shall be testing the 450h+ to see how it performs as a family SUV. But one thing is already clear, it's not suitable for anyone who hasn't got access to an EV charger. And if that's you then I'd direct you to the cheaper but extremely accomplished NX 350h.

Report 2: How to charge your electric car or PHEV for free

Wouldn't it be great if you could get free fuel? Well, after years of messing around with fuel vouchers, loyalty cards and discount codes, I've finally cracked the secret and discovered how to get fuel free in the UK.

Date: 23 June 2022 | Current mileage: 1019 | Claimed economy: 256.8 - 313.9mpg | Actual economy: 201.1mpg combined/57.4mpg when battery is depleted

There are over 32,000 public EV chargers in this country and a small percentage of these are completely free to use. All you need to do is create an account for the company that supplies the energy and, boom, you've got access to free electricity.

Finding a free public EV charger is easy - most of them are found at your local supermarket. Admittedly, the rate of charging is slow - most are limited to 7kW in my corner of the south west - but this will still give you 10 or 20 miles of free fuel each time you do the weekly shop. 

Supermarkets are not the only places that offer free charging for electric cars. There are thousands of locations across the UK and many are found at hotels, restaurants and leisure centres. Some public car parks will also provide free charging (although the usual pay and display rules will also usually apply).

I usually spend an hour or two at my local supermarket, giving me up to 30 miles free of charge every week. The official EV range of the NX 450h+ is 43 miles but you can stretch this further if you use the car for local trips. And over the past few weeks I've been getting up to 60 miles from a single charge.

The electric powertrain is silky smooth and quiet. Press the throttle and the NX whirrs along and the power delivery is applied in a predictable and linear way, without any unpleasant jolts or thumps when the petrol engine kicks in.

The road handling of the 450h+ is identical to that of the 350h, which means the NX retains its comfortable and well-judged ride quality. In the old days PHEVs such as this would feel heavy and cumbersome; however, unlike the old Mitsubishi Outlander, the NX PHEV doesn't feel like it's lugging a trailer or concrete when you attempt to navigate a series of fast curves in the road. 

Using the odometer and brim-to-brim fuel receipts to work out the fuel economy, the NX 450h+ is comfortably averaging 200mpg. However, that's mostly based on short trips with varying states of charge. Long journeys are a very different story, with the battery emptying in 35 miles and average economy dropping to the high 50s. 

Report 3: The weird and wonderful world of cool car gadgets

If you like cool car gadgets then you will most likely love the Lexus NX. From its clever parking cameras and ventilated seats to its digital rear-view mirror and wireless phone charging pad, the NX is a car that embraces tech. And lots of it.

Date: 7 July 2022 | Current mileage: 1586 | Claimed economy: 256.8 - 313.9mpg | Actual economy: 225.4mpg combined/58.5mpg when battery is depleted

Many of the techy features of the NX 450h+ are extremely useful. The 360 parking camera (pictured above) for example is excellent - not only does it give you all-round vision for navigating small parking bays but it also keeps the alloy wheels in pristine condition by giving you a bird's eye view of nearby kerbs. 

F Sport and Takumi versions of the NX get Lexus Link Pro as standard, which includes a 14-inch HD display (perfect for seeing the parking camera). The dials for the heating controls are also smartly integrated into the screen, while the processing power of the infotainment system is roughly twice that of the 9.8-inch system found in the base model.

The navigation system benefits from the faster processor with quicker screen changes and rerouting options when traffic delays are detected. I do struggle to understand the wisdom behind the digital rear-view mirror, however. Tech lovers will no doubt adore it but it doesn't really provide any notable benefit over the old fashioned (and cheaper) glass mirror - unless, that is, you've managed to fill the boot up to the roof.

The electric seats (standard on F Sport and Takumi trims) have memory functions and this means you can save your settings and not have to faff around adjusting the seat after someone else has used your car. The ventilated seats are also a welcome addition in the summer months when the leather upholstery would otherwise fry the surface of your skin (especially painful when wearing shorts). 

My favourite bit of tech in the NX, however, is the electronic entry and exit system. Linked to the car’s blind spot monitor, it warns you of any traffic approaching from the rear (thus preventing you from switching your door into the path of an oncoming vehicle).

If it thinks you are about to swing your door into the path of a car, cyclist or pedestrian it'll trigger a warning. And if it thinks you are about to cause a serious accident, it'll prevent you from opening the door until the danger has passed. 

Being a keen cyclist, I've experienced a number of occasions when a driver or passenger has swung open into my path. It's a really smart bit of tech that will potentially save lives. In my opinion, it should be fitted as standard to all cars. 


Report 4: How does wheel size affect comfort?

When it comes to comfort, cars with smaller wheels are best. Why? Because bigger wheels tend to have lower profile tyres and add weight (known as unsprung mass) resulting in a stiffer and harsher ride quality.

Date: 21 July 2022 | Current mileage: 2081 | Claimed economy: 256.8 - 313.9mpg | Actual economy: 215.1mpg combined/50.0mpg when battery is depleted

When the NX 450h was delivered a couple of months ago I winced when I noticed it was shod with 20-inch wheels and 235/50R tyres. This set-up usually means one thing - great discomfort on less-than-perfect roads. 

After three months with the Lexus NX350h, I'd grown to love its silky-smooth ride comfort. This was aided by its 18-inch wheels and 235/60R tyres. Would the 450h+ and its lower profile tyres ruin my NX experience?

In short, no. The 450h+'s ride quality is almost every bit as good as the 350h, with its supple suspension doing an excellent job of absorbing lumps and bumps in the road. Admittedly, the larger wheels do make the ride a little more unsettled on very rough roads, but I wouldn't say it's anywhere near what I'd describe as uncomfortable.

Tipping the scales at 2.5 tonnes, the 450h+ is 160kg heavier than the 350h. Most of that extra fat comes from the plug-in hybrid battery, which allows the car to cover 40 - 60 miles on pure electricity. For the most part, the 450h+ does a good job of hiding its weight, but you do get some noticeble body lean when carrying speed through a moderate bend. 

The 2.5 tonne kerb weight also reveals itself when you drive over soft ground. I took the 450h+ to a beach in Devon last week and the four-wheel drive system laboured to keep me moving over the sandy car park, with occasional bouts of wheelspin as the traction control system struggled with the loose terrain. 

The NX is a competent 4x4 but its off-roading capability is nowhere near class-leading. If you need a go-anywhere family SUV you'd probably be better off spending your money on one of the best 4x4s.

Not that Lexus NX buyers will care, I'd argue that the typical 450h+ driver will be using their SUV for the school run, supermarket sweep and daily commute. And for this purpose, the efficient and comfortable Lexus NX is very difficult to fault.

Report 5: Which is the number one car brand for reliability?

According to the Q&As we get sent via ASK, reliability is one of the key priorities for drivers in the UK. But which carmaker is the best for reliability for new and used car buyers?

Date: 4 August 2022 | Current mileage: 2508 | Claimed economy: 256.8 - 313.9mpg | Actual economy: 220.2mpg combined/51.2mpg when battery is depleted

Lexus always performs strongly in the annual Honest John Satisfaction Index. In 2021, the Japanese carmaker rated as the number one car manufacturer for reliability in the UK while Land Rover propped up the table with the worst average score. 

The 2021 result was no fluke, either. Lexus took the prize for the most reliable carmaker in 2020, too. And owner feedback via ASK is also very complimentary, which provides strong evidence that Toyota's luxury car brand is by far the best in the UK for reliability.

Lexus has also attracted high scores for comfort, with the old NX being a regular in the top 10 most comfortable cars listing from the Satisfaction Index. I was a fan of the old model, but I think the latest NX is even comfier than before thanks to its supportive seats and much improved ride quality. 

The infotainment system in the NX is a million miles better than the awful touchpad system that Lexus persevered with for so many years. However, like a movie villain who returns for the inevitable sequel, the dreaded touchpad has been moved to the steering wheel on the 450h+ and (yep, you've guessed it) the system is a pain in the proverbial to operate. 

Overly sensitive and difficult to use, the steering wheel touchpad controls border distraction when you attempt to use them on the move. I don't understand why Lexus doesn't stick with the traditional buttons and dials on the steering wheel. You get these in the 350h and it's far better than the overly complicated touchpads. 

The plug-in hybrid system, however, works just fine. Smooth and easy to use, the electric powertrain of the 450h+ is wonderful to drive. The electric range varies from 40 - 60 miles, but I always make a point of charging up whenever I can as it's much cheaper than running the car on the 2.5-litre petrol engine. 

My 200+mpg fuel economy reflects the fact I keep the battery regularly charged. The average mpg quickly drops into the mid-50s if you attempt to use the 450h+ as a regular petrol SUV. But with over 32,000 EV charging points in the UK, there really is no excuse not to keep the NX plugged in. Especially when so many supermarkets and car parks provide free charging.


Report 6: Should you buy a used Lexus NX?

The Lexus NX is one of the best used SUVs money can buy according to Dan.

Date: 25 August 2022 | Current mileage: 3199 | Claimed economy: 256.8 - 313.9mpg | Actual economy: 216.2mpg combined/50.7mpg when battery is depleted

After three months of living with the 350h and then another three months behind the wheel of the 450h+ (seen here), I've become a big fan of the NX. Not only is it one of the best SUVs for comfort but it also provides peace of mind, thanks to its comprehensive manufacturer warranty that will span 10 years/100,000 miles if you keep it serviced within the Lexus dealer network. 

Sadly the time has come for me to say goodbye to my NX, with the six-month dual test coming to a close. However, before I handed the keyfob back to Lexus, I decided to follow the car's journey back into the dealer network. 

The Lexus Select Approved pre-owned scheme stocks around 1500 used cars and I took the NX 450h+ to my local Lexus dealership, Snows in Exeter, to find out what would happen to it before it would appear on a forecourt. 

Before a used car is approved for Lexus Select it must go through a 150-point quality and safety check. This means the car is sent straight into the workshop where a mechanic conducts a full inspection. The car also goes through a diagnostics check for the electrical systems and the hybrid battery, while the service and mileage history is also verified. This in-depth process can take two or three days to complete. 

According to Simon Frith, Franchise Manager at Snows Lexus of Exeter, the key selling points for the Select scheme are "build quality and the warranty". "Lexus has a fanatical approach to quality," according to Simon, who says he's witnessed the quality control at Lexus' manufacturing plant where each car is checked by hand before it is allowed to depart the factory. "That's why we have the confidence to offer a warranty for up to 10 years," boasts Simon.

Certainly, after six months of NX ownership, I can vouch for the steadfast build quality. Unlike some of its premium SUV rivals, the NX is a car that provides real confidence in its longevity. The interior, for example, doesn't emit any worrying creaks or squeaks as you navigate a tight corner. And I've yet to see one stranded at the roadside with a breakdown truck. 

And that's why I have no hesitation in recommending the Lexus NX, because it's one of the best hybrid SUVs. It's also one of the most comfortable and capable cars on the market, which probably explains why you, the readers, send us so much positive feedback about Lexus in our annual Satisfaction Index.