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In my opinion, Lexus has always had form in making some elements of a car’s interior harder work than necessary.
Up until recent times, the brand had persisted with a trackpad style controller or joystick toggle for its media systems, when a touchscreen would have sufficed. Thankfully, logic prevaled there, and the NX - as with all other Lexus models these days - has a big media screen that’s mostly easy to use (more on that soon).
But the brand’s “if it ain’t broke, so we’ll break it” trick this time around is the door handles.
My 11-year-old nephew decried that the NX is a “stupid car” because, try as he might, he couldn’t figure the door handles out in the back. And he’s a smart kid.
Whether you’re in the front or the back, the handles are the same - you need only press the tip of the handle with a thumb, hear a click, and it will open - then, you just need to push the door open. Seems simple, but I’ve found that - through my experience and with other people I’ve had in the car - they’re not as straight forward as a simple mechanical lever to open the door.
There’s a mechanical lever as a safeguard, but the intended digitised system for the door handles has lead to a few “is the door locked?” moments. When you have to explain how to you get out of a car, it’s probably form over function… right?
The exterior door handles aren’t “conventional”, either - they simply require pressure inside the handle, then you can pull it open. At least they’re a bit more logical.
Short story - you get used to them. But every new passenger you take with you might need a quick explainer.
As I mentioned in my last update, the interior has also had a few bugs when it comes to connectivity for myself and my partner. We were both using iPhone XS models up until recently, and had numerous issues with connecting to Apple CarPlay. We tried multiple USB cables, did the old “update the software” and “restart the phone” tricks, and we both still had issues with the system working correctly.
Often it would be like this: get in, start car, agree to terms on screen, plug in phone to USB, wait for it to show up (invariably it wouldn’t), unplug USB, replug USB… repeat until success.
It had left a bad taste for both of us, and I thought upgrading my phone (which was due anyway) would fix it. Nope. Same problem. If I manage to find out a special trick, I’ll let you know, or perhaps I’ll take the car to Lexus to get it sorted, if I have time. It’s the sort of thing I’d do when taking my own car in for a service, but since this is only a short test, that won’t be something I’ll “have” to do.
Not everyone cares about smartphone mirroring, though, and there are other things that are intriguing about the media system in the NX.
For instance, where do you think you’d go to change the bass, mid, treble and fader/position selection for the stereo speakers?
Probably the “Sound” menu, right?
Nope. Neither of those.
Instead, you need to be listening to your music in the “music” menu, then you’re going to have to hit the three little dots to the top-left of the song title, and only there will you find the REAL sound menu.
This user interface fail is something that could be fixed with a software update, as could one other little oddity we noticed - there’s an air-con system called S-Flow, which is designed to direct air only to the seats that are occupied. But we noticed the system didn’t pick up that we had our daughter in the back in her child seat, nor our two dogs who were harnessed and seatbelted into the other two rear seats.
That really surprised me - I thought a system like S-Flow, which can help cut down wasted energy, would have been tied to the seatbelt system.
But we have appreciated the nanoe™X air conditioning system - it can apparently help keep the air moisture levels up, hydrating occupants’ skin and hair to allow them to feel “spa-fresh” when they get out of the car, while also keeping the air cleaner - supposedly neutralising viruses by up to 99 per cent.
Our daughter was born with a skin condition that means she has drier skin than most kids, and while it’s hard to say whether there has been a measurable effect, it’s nice to think this car is derma-friendlier than others.
One thing that was pretty cool about our time in the Lexus was that this was our bub’s first full-time ride in a forward-facing seat. We had her rearward for a few weeks to begin with, but it became clear that she was too big for that anymore - so we turned her reversible seat around.
That was a lovely feeling - both in the sense of growth and the mindblowing journey we call life, and also because it meant whoever was riding passenger had a bit more space up front. In fact, a bit is underselling it - it’s an additional 10cm or so, which makes for a more pleasant experience as a passenger.
Also in this second month of testing, I realised that there’s a secret compartment!
The wireless charging dock (which, honestly, isn’t grippy enough for phones without a case) can be slid forwards into the dashboard, unveiling a deep compact cubby. Great for snacks, loose items or storing your phone, if you don’t trust the wireless pad.
I bet you’re thinking “what kind of maniac has a smartphone without a case on it!?”... and the answer, up until I switched to the new 13 Pro, was me. My iPhone XS was naked, and it slid around in the charging tray… a lot. Many other brands use these Qi inductive charge pads but incorporate some kind of non-slip surface, where the Lexus’ one doesn’t.
This month didn’t see us do too much driving in the NX apart from the usual errands and odd trip up the mountains and back.
Instead of taking the Lexus for a trip to Cooma to visit my family, we took a Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, which certainly made me thankful for the hybrid powertrain in the NX 350h.
We only managed to get 300km on a charge in the XC40 EV - and it took more than an hour to recharge before we could continue our journey onwards beyond Canberra. For parents with a one-year-old, it prolonged the trip just a bit too much, turning a usual four- to four-and-a-half hour trip into a six-hour run.
And, for context, we got more than double that driving range from the Lexus’s petrol tank on our first long trip. Apples and oranges, sure… but at least the Lexus’ hybrid system is doing its bit.
I’ll go into more of the drive experience, efficiency and powertrain details in the next update. Stay tuned!
Acquired: 28 April 2022
Distance travelled this month: 421km
Average fuel consumption this month: 6.4L/100km (measured at the pump)
Based on new car retail priceVIEW PRICING & SPECS