Lexus announced the world premiere of the all-new NX, the first model of Lexus’ next-generation range. Under the “Lexus Electrified” initiative, the new NX accelerates the proliferation of electrified models by being Lexus’ first Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV); the NX is also offered as a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV).
Lexus NX 450h+ PHEV
In 2014, Lexus launched the NX, based on the concept of “Premium Urban Sports Gear.” Since then, the luxury crossover has been well-received by customers for its agile driving performance and powerful design. As of the end of April 2021, the NX has sold a cumulative total of approximately 1 million units in more than 90 countries and regions, and together with the RX, has grown to become a core global model for Lexus.
The new NX is the first model to introduce the next generation of Lexus. In order to establish the unique driving experience to be found in future electrified vehicles, Lexus focused on thoroughly improving driving control, aerodynamics, and weight reduction.
The new NX uses the GA-K platform to achieve a lightweight, highly rigid body with a low center of gravity to enable superior handling. The basic performance of the vehicle has been greatly improved, and it inherits Lexus’ driving signature, which is faithful to the driver’s inputs with control surfaces tuned for a more linear response.
Available powertrains include Lexus’ first PHEV; an HEV-equipped with high-capacity battery, a newly developed 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine; and a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine—all with high thermal efficiency.
PHEV and HEV. The NX 450h+ PHEV has a manufacturer-estimated 36-mile range on electric power only, made possible by the newly developed, high-capacity 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 an estimated 6.0 second 0-60 time.
A high-output, high-efficiency system designed to reduce power loss when converting from AC power to DC power, results in shorter charging times. Using the maximum charging current of 240V, the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid can be fully charged in approximately two-and a-half hours when equipped with the optional 6.6 kW Expedited Onboard Charger. With the standard 3.3 kW on board charger, charge time goes up slightly to four-and-a-half hours.
All-wheel drive (AWD) is available on models equipped with PHEV and 2.4-liter turbo powertrains, while both AWD and front-wheel drive (FWD) are available on the models equipped with HEV and 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated powertrains.
The plug-in hybrid system used in the PHEV version of the NX is equipped with a thermally-efficient 2.5-liter inline-four engine, a 18.1 kWh, high-output lithium-ion battery, and front and rear motors.
The NX PHEV features AWD (E-FOUR) with constantly variable front-to-rear torque distribution between 100:0 and 20:80 percent modes. The high-capacity lithium-ion battery is placed under the floor to lower the center of gravity and help enhance handling and the overall driving experience.
The driver can alternate at will among the four driving modes (EV mode, AUTO EV/HV mode, HV mode, and Self-charge mode) at the touch of a switch. In HV mode, the engine and motor work together to achieve high acceleration performance. In addition, when AUTO EV/HV mode is selected with a destination inputted into the navigation system, Lexus’ first anticipatory EV/HV mode will automatically switch to HV mode on highways and other road conditions based upon data such as remaining battery power, route, and traffic information, all for the achievement of energy-efficient driving.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system on the NX 350h pairs the D4-S fuel injection 2.5-liter 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 to the rear wheels, the AWD system employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when it detects it is needed to help maintain optimal traction.
E-Four has a constantly variable front/rear driving force distribution from 100:0 to 20:80 percent modes. A FWD version will also be introduced to meet the diversifying needs of customers.
Highly rigid and lightweight body. Reinforcement braces and panels have been added to the suspension members and other parts of the vehicle to ensure that the driving force is optimized. The rigidity of the GA-K platform has been evolved by considering the cowl shape and increasing the structure’s plate thickness. The structure of the upper body benefits from an engine hood that adopts a twin-lock structure—a first for Lexus.
In addition to the annular structure, a high-rigidity structural foaming agent was placed effectively by CAE analysis in order to suppress matchbox deformation in the rear luggage opening. In addition to laser screw welding (LSW) and structural adhesives, laser peening technology has been newly developed for joining skeletons. Through their optimal placement, the bonding strength has been increased by extending the bonding length by about 35% compared to the conventional type.
The rocker outer reinforcement is made of 1180 MPa steel by tailor welded blanks (1.6 kg lighter than the conventional structure), and the roof center reinforcement is made of cold-rolled steel sheet with a tensile strength of 1470 MPa. The roof center reinforcement is made of cold-rolled steel plate with a tensile strength of 1470 MPa (approximately 0.3 kg lighter than the conventional structure). A structure made of such high tensile strength steel enhances vehicle rigidity, safety, and handling while mitigating mass.
Safety. The NX adopts the evolved Lexus Safety System +. By expanding the detection range of the millimeter wave radar and monocular camera, Lexus enhanced the performance of each function and added new functions to assist on ordinary roads. The aim is to prevent accidents, further reduce traffic fatalities and injuries, and ease the burden on drivers.
In addition, the NX is equipped with Advanced Park, an advanced driving support technology developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept, to support safe, secure and smooth parking. Furthermore, a new function has been added to allow remote parking using a smartphone.
In addition, automatic door-opening cancellation (Safe Exit Assist), which is linked to the Blind Spot Monitor sensor and e-latch system, supports safe and secure exit. For added convenience, a digital key that allows the driver to operate the car from a smartphone is also available.