2023 Lexus NX 350h Ultra Luxury

Lexus long held the reputation for making high quality luxury vehicles, all of which were terribly boring.
Lexus long held the reputation for making high quality luxury vehicles, all of which were terribly boring.

by Arthur Chiang | March 30, 2023


It’s been an amazing 13 years since Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota’s founder Kiichiro Toyoda, took over the reins as CEO. In that time Toyoda-san has completely flipped the brand’s entire lineup from appliances into genuinely exciting vehicles while maintaining Toyota’s reputation for quality, dependability and reliability. It comes as quite a shock that Toyoda-san is now stepping down as CEO amidst the huge industry shift towards alternative energy solutions. We spent a week with the 2023 Lexus NX 350h Ultra Luxury while reflecting on this news and the ramifications it may have for the Lexus brand.

The NX slots between the UX and RX crossovers in Lexus’ lineup. As Lexus’ entry in the compact crossover segment, it has become a popular seller for the brand. A wide variety of powertrains are available; the NX 350h equipped with a 2.5-liter Hybrid Drive delivering 240 horsepower and 167 lb-ft. of torque. While it doesn’t feel underpowered and closely matched with the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine found in the gasoline NX 350, this powertrain lacks any sort of driver engagement and is just dreadfully dull. Like other four-cylinder Toyota or Lexus hybrid power units, this one sounds like a cheap rental car screaming for its life under any sort of demanding load. It just doesn’t do the NX or the Lexus experience justice.

Cleary Lexus knows this as they do not offer the F-Sport packages on the NX 350h. NX stands for “nimble crossover” but in the case of the 350h it’s referring more to its size than handling prowess. Steering feel is decent for an electric power assisted rack and the ride is comfortable and compliant – exactly what you might expect from a Lexus prior to Akio Toyoda’s tenure.

The NX 350h is the model to choose if you prioritize fuel economy over driving thrills. The NX 350h is rated to deliver a fuel sipping 5.7L/100km city, 6.4L/100km highway and 6.0L/100km combined. The fuel economy during our week of testing didn’t quite hit the mark at 8.1.L/100km, though still a respectable figure for a crossover in the dead of winter. It’s worth mentioning that the NX 350h gets away with regular 87-octane gasoline.

While we can’t say the same for the driving experience, the second generation NX is certainly exciting to look at no matter which model you choose, especially in this stunning Nori Green Pearl paint. Only available with the range topping Ultra Luxury and Executive packages, this paint colour may well be worth the price of admission. The upgraded triple beam LED headlights and 20-inch alloy mesh wheels on our Ultra Luxury tester certainly elevate the NX’s already head turning looks.

The interior space of the NX 350h Ultra Luxury is top notch in terms showcasing the build quality and materials Lexus has spent decades honing to perfection. The Palomino colored interior is a perfect compliment to the Nori Green Pearl paint; the synthetic NuLuxe upholstery feels soft yet durable and could easily fool you into believing this is the real McCoy. Plastics are matte and textured, metal bezels and accents have a beautiful finish and open pore wood accents add an additional element of luxurious texture. A panoramic moonroof shines light over it all putting the interior space proudly on display.

Last year’s infotainment redesign makes a comeback with a big 14-inch touchscreen beautifully integrated into the center console. They system is lightyears ahead of the previous system and is fully up to date with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Our only real gripe is the lack of physical climate controls (other than the led backlit temperature dials) that either eat up screen real estate or disappear on map screens making simple tasks like controlling the heated seats or steering wheel a chore. Also a bit disappointing is the absence of the sensational Mark Levinson premium audio, found only on the Executive trim.

The base NX 250 starts at $51,982.20, and you’ll need an additional $2,500 for the hybrid 350h. The Ultra Luxury package will set you back an additional $10,800 which really amounts to fancy headlights, panoramic moonroof, and color choices like the fantastic Nori Green Pearl. That amounts to $65,282.20 as tested, which is a bit hard to swallow given the absence of some notable luxury features that are only found in the Executive package (an additional $4,750). We’re talking heated rear seats, rear window screens, premium audio, Heads-Up display, and genuine leather upholstery. You could have all of these amenities for $25,000 less in something like the Mazda CX-5 Signature though without the badge prestige.

Prior to Akio Toyoda, Lexus long held the reputation for making high quality luxury vehicles, all of which were terribly boring. Ever since the launch of the LFA, Toyoda’s ideals of making vehicles more engaging and exciting has permeated across the lineup – something called the “Lexus Driving Signature”. We think the 2023 Lexus NX 350h Ultra Luxury misses the mark here compromising too much with the hybrid powertrain. It makes a strong case for electrification which Lexus takes steps to deliver with the new NX 450h plug-in hybrid. We hope that under new leadership Lexus doesn’t walk too far off the path Akio Toyoda started it on, keeping options like the more engaging NX 350 F-Sport on the menu for as long as possible and engineering excitement into the new lineup of EVs.

See Also:

2022 Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV

2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD

2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e

Vehicle Specs
Compact Luxury Crossover
Engine Size
2.5L inline four-cylinder hybrid
Horsepower (at RPM)
240 at 6,000
Torque (lb-ft.)
167 at 3,200
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Arthur Chiang

Staff Writer

Arthur is a walking encyclopedia of cars and is a known go-to source for obscure JDM parts in Ontario. He’s an avid track junkie and has amassed a collection of rare Subarus and Hondas.

Current Toys: ’00 WRX STI S201, '03 Impreza TS Wagon, ’98 WRX STI Type R, ’05 S2000, ’72 H2 750, ’08 Ruckus