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Two things stood out after driving this compact luxury SUV from Lexus for a week and getting to know it. Even with these quirky features, the 2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT is a comfortable SUV with a range of features that make it an excellent choice for buyers seeking a high-performance and luxurious vehicle to drive every day.

Is it worth buying the 2023 Lexus NX 350?

The 2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT door handles
2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT electronic door handles | Lexus

The 2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT is a good choice for many reasons. Regarding the quirky features of the Lexus NX 350, there is more good to report than bad. Lexus clearly put a lot of thought into the design of the NX, inside and out. However, once you go to get out of the Lexus NX, you will be presented with some interesting door handles.

Lexus calls these electronic door handles, Lexus Digital Latch or the Lexus e-Latch system, and there isn’t much information about it online. One of the few things that can be found is a few YouTube videos on how to use the electric door handles, which is probably a bad sign.

Lexus NX interior
Lexus NX | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

As we mentioned, the test vehicle was a Lexus NX 350 F SPORT. These door handles seem standard on the new NX and RX SUVs, but we found the system quite confusing. From the outside, the new system is supposed to make opening the door easier. It is also supposed to help in emergencies, but it took quite a while to get used to. This could totally be a user error, and you would probably figure it out eventually.

What is the Lexus e-Latch system on the 2023 NX 350?

According to J.D. Power, the Lexus e-Latch was designed to work with systems like blind-spot warning and safe-exit assist technology. It is actually a part of the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 and comes on all NX trim levels. Ideally, it would prevent the door from opening should these systems detect an approaching vehicle or object. You push the small handle to open the door. That did not seem very intuitive.

Lexus also designed the door to open in emergencies by pulling the small handle and opening the door. This was also unclear, but it might be explained to shoppers during a test drive. The automaker hopes to simplify opening the door, especially in emergencies. It is probably one of those things you get used to after a few days, but it wasn’t obvious the first few times.

One major drawback is that the digital latch system won’t work if the car or key fob dies. That seems like an oversight for a system that is supposed to work in emergency situations. You should be able to pry off the outside door handle and use the physical key inside the key fob to open the doors. Once again, not always intuitive.

What’s another quirky feature of the Lexus NX 350?

2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT driver-focused interior
Lexus NX | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

The air conditioning was another quirky feature of the 2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT. In the photo above, you can see the blue light over the A/C button. The blue light would not come on automatically, so someone had to tap the button to get the cold air circulating. The SUV started in ECO mode most of the time, and the air conditioning did not come on automatically. This means hitting the A/C button to get air flowing every time you turn the car on. Perhaps a setting or button wasn’t on, like the AUTO air setting. The system would move air around in the cabin, but it wasn’t cold or coming to a temperature like expected.

Again, this could be a user error. As my own devil’s advocate, what vehicle doesn’t have air conditioning come on automatically? Have you had to turn on the air conditioning in a modern car recently? If there is a setting that needs to be turned on for cold air, it should be relatively easy to figure out (though we did not figure it out).

Even with these two features, the 2023 Lexus NX 350 remains one of the best small luxury SUVs on the market this year. This doesn’t touch on all of the comfortable features in the NX and all of the newest upgrades to this Lexus SUV. There are plenty of good reasons to consider this compact vehicle, but try out the door handles at the dealership first.


Here’s What the 2023 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT Gets Right