2023 Lexus NX 350 Luxury review by Ben Lewis

We get asked for vehicle recommendations all the time – it comes with the job. And there are a few we consider no-brainers, it’s hard to go wrong with one. On that list would be the Toyota RAV4 and its fancy sibling the Lexus NX.

In the past year we tested the NX 350 F SPORT and the NX 450h+ plug in hybrid. We’ve found each model to be notably different, so when Lexus offered us the opportunity to test the NX350 Luxury, we jumped at it.

So which Lexus NX is right for you? Let’s find out!

Nori Green With Envy

The first thing that grabs your attention is our tester’s delicious Nori Green exterior. Delicious you say? Well Nori, as a dried edible seaweed, is just that, but it is also a rich, deep mossy green that just shimmers and looks expensive.

Up front, our Luxury tester is similar to other NX models with a massive spindle grille. Funny, while we once felt it was overkill, it was merely Lexus taking the style lead. Now many vehicles have a prominent front end, and if we haven’t grown to love it, we’ve certainly become accustomed to its face. There’s no disputing the cool Signature L-shaped daytime running lights and projector beam headlamps along with projector fog lights sitting low in the aggressive fascia.

It’s interesting how different the vibe is on the non F-SPORT models, with multi-spoke 20-inch wheels that look smaller but are actually the same size as the more aggressive split 5-spoke alloys. Blacked out wheel well trim frames the handsome multi-spokes, and the Luxury trim looks decidedly fresh with color-keyed mirrors and door handles – only the chrome trim on the window surrounds adds some upscale bling.

The rear keeps things looking fresh with L E X U S spelled out in big block letters, below a full-width LED blade rear taillight that’s becoming another Lexus signature design. An integrated spoiler over the rear window adds some aero sportiness. Overall, we like the slightly more in-your-face nature of the F SPORT models, but the Luxury is sure to delight those who lean towards a more elegant direction.

Technology on Display

Inside is pure Lexus, with high quality materials, starting with rich leather that smells, looks and feels luxurious. The front seat design is slightly less body-hugging than the F SPORT seats, but we still found them very supportive and comfortable. Heated and ventilated, you’ll be well looked after year-round. There’s also a fat leather-wrapped steering wheel and a stubby little shift lever that feels great in your hand.

Like any luxury vehicle worth its salt, there’s plenty of tech on display, including a 7-inch digital gauge display, including a nice circular tachometer that feels very sporty, and it even changes color depending on driving mode.

Making a huge first impression is the beautiful 14.0-inch infotainment display, that is also beautifully integrated into the dash, creating a true cockpit vibe. The display itself is gorgeous, and you’ve got wireless connectivity including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which made our WAZE app look massive! Our tester also had wireless charging, so it’s easy to go cord-free.

You can avoid leaving messy fingerprints on that big screen by just saying “Hey Lexus” and asking for a variety of connective tasks from climate control to audio stations and more. The navigation system has some cool tricks, too. An off-line mode detects when you’re entering an area with low connectivity, and downloads applicable maps and services in advance.

Lexus really ladled the goodies on our tester, including a wonderful sounding 17-speaker, Mark Levinson sound system, Panoramic Moonroof, power folding rear seats, power hatch with kick sensor, Panoramic view monitor, Lane Change Assist and Front Cross Traffic Alert and Digital Inner Mirror.  Loaded to the gills – and we loved it!

Little Big SUV

Driving the NX shows how the option sheet can make a big difference.

There are actually 4 powertrains available for the NX, the NX250 with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder producing 203 horsepower, the NX 350 like our tester, adding a turbo and getting a big bump to 275 horsepower, and a mountainous 317 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,700 rpm.

There are also two hybrid models – the 239 hp, 350h and the rocket 450h+, with the most power at 304 hp. We tested it and loved it.

Back to the NX 350, although it’s not the most powerful, we think it’s the enthusiast’s choice with a lovely exhaust note, plenty of punch off the line and a quick shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.

What is interesting to note is the more mellow character of our Luxury model compared to the  350 F SPORTwe tested. If you like the kind of thrills you get from BMW and Audi, we highly recommend the F SPORT. It’s suspension tuning give it adrenaline-pumping ride and handling.

Our Luxury model had a lower pulse rate – and that’s ok, if that’s what you want. This trim feels very traditional Lexus; smooth, quiet, and competent with just a little sporty spice thrown in. It also feels exceptionally competent, with grippy AWD, and a full Armada (not to be confused with Nissan!) of driver assistance, including the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0, and on our tester, the added Lane Change Assist and Front Cross traffic alert. Best of all, the systems work perfectly, always there to help, but never getting in the way of driving enjoyment.

Can I Afford the Lap of NX 350 Luxury?

Like the Europeans, the option list can be your friend, or your undoing. The lineup starts with the Lexus NX 250 at just $40,305 and for a full-on Lexus with loads of luxury, style, and safety, it’s probably one of the smartest ways to get into the brand.

Luxury comes at a premium, though. Our NX 350 Luxury started at $50,265, and then added a Digital Inner Mirror ($200), Power Rear Seat ($1,030), Triple Beam Headlamps ($850), superb Mark Levinson 17-speaker Audio system ($1,020), Panorama Moonroof ($500), Panoramic View Monitor ($1,070), Smart Phone Convenience Package ($450) and Roof Cross Bars ($395). Add in $1,150 for Destination, and we range the bell at $56,930.

For comparison, our previous NX 350 F SPORT was a bit less at $53,640, and the 450h+ was notably more, at $62,090. As enthusiasts, we’d probably go for the 350 F SPORT, but it’s easy to be seduced by the sumptuous Luxury model!

Competitors would include the Volvo XC 60 at $57,795, Also luxurious, and a fine drive, with a more sparse Swedish design. And the Audi Q5 at $56,690  with a more Germanic, but still delightful approach. Choose your Nationality and enjoy!

An elegant exterior, hi tech and luxurious interior, the 2023 Lexus NX 350 Luxury brings the best of the Lexus brand in a perfectly sized SUV!

Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.

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