Compact Luxury SUVs With a Surprising Role Reversal


Spoiler alert: The overall result of this comparison test between the all-new 2022 Genesis GV70 and Lexus’ recently redesigned 2022 NX350 was pretty much what we expected. But the journey to our verdict took an unanticipated path, with the Lexus impressing us in ways we never anticipated. Most surprising, though, was how upstart brand Genesis has mastered traditional luxury while old-timer Lexus forges a novel youth-oriented path. Our showdown proved to be an eye-opening comparison test between these two compact luxury SUVs.

Meet the Players

Regular MotorTrend readers need no introduction to the Genesis GV70: It won our 2022 SUV of the Year title in V-6-powered 3.5T form, in which it practically overwhelmed us with its mix of luxury and performance. However, this latest comparison features the less expensive four-cylinder GV70 2.5T, priced at $42,595 with standard all-wheel drive. Equipped with the Select and Advanced packages, this 2022 Genesis GV70 listed for $51,320.

The second-gen Lexus NX is new for 2022 and greatly improved compared to the previous model, with better-looking styling and more appealing powertrains. Among its four (!) available engines, the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the NX350 seemed the best match for the four-cylinder Genesis. Lexus delivered to us an F Sport model with all-wheel drive and a base price of $47,725; a healthy sprinkling of options brought the as-tested price up to $54,410.

Genesis GV70: A Modern Take on Old-School Luxury

The interior is one of the most important factors in a luxury SUV comparison; after all, posh accommodations are what buyers pay a premium for. No one can say Genesis doesn’t have posh down pat: The 2022 GV70 surrounds its occupants with high-quality soft-touch materials and attractive design. The Vanilla Beige leather in our test SUV, along with the horizontal-bar steering wheel, gave it a decidedly old-school feel, but this is no throwback; note the lack of wood trim and the modern, sensible control layout.

The GV70 SUV makes excellent use of its wide-format center screen; there’s a lot going on, but both young tech-oriented staffers and the old grizzlies found the menu system intuitive and easy to use, thanks largely to a well-executed multimedia knob on the center console. Our biggest complaint was that the knob is nearly the same size as the one that shifts the transmission, and it’s easy to inadvertently grab the wrong one.

Lexus NX350: A Youthful Take on the Compact Luxury SUV

Lexus has forged its own path on luxury, and while we don’t dig all its interiors, the NX’s is a bright spot. While the 2022 GV70 SUV rocks its traditional cream-and-chrome style, the new NX350 is monolithic and modern, and we were surprised by how much we liked it. The new center screen is a high point: It displays infotainment up top and some climate controls down below, with actual dials to adjust the temperature. There’s also a proper volume knob. Most of the materials were top-notch, though we found a few bits of cheap-feeling plastic in some unlikely places. Case in point: the plastic shift paddles, which felt inferior to the Genesis GV70’s metal paddles.

While the Lexus NX350 looks good, it had some usability issues. Take the multi-function capacitive-touch buttons on the steering wheel. You can’t just press them; you must touch them, wait for their function to appear on the head-up display, then press; otherwise, they do nothing. We kept forgetting this, and it took double presses to accomplish simple tasks like skipping a track or increasing cruise-control speed. Why overcomplicate such simple tasks? It also seemed silly that despite its massive infotainment screen, the Lexus NX350 only lets you display one sub-system (navigation, phone, audio, etc.) at a time. There is no tiled home screen like there is in the Genesis (or older Lexus systems). These are minor frustrations, to be sure, but we encountered no such annoyances in the Genesis GV70.

On the Road: Solid Genesis, Surprising Lexus

The 2022 Lexus NX350 has a moderate horsepower deficit compared to the 2022 Genesis GV70 2.5T—275 hp for the Lexus versus 300 for the Genesis—but an advantage on torque (317 lb-ft to the GV70’s 311) and weight (the Lexus is 319 pounds lighter). Both have eight-speed automatic transmissions, but the Genesis has a shorter final-drive ratio (4.18:1 versus the Lexus’ 3.33:1). That helps to explain why the GV70 beat the NX350 to 60 mph by well more than a second, 6.0 to 7.1. But it doesn’t explain the NX350’s overall power deficit. Luxury, to us, means an excess of all things, including power, and although the NX wasn’t slow, it delivered the bare minimum we expect from a luxury-branded SUV. The GV70 felt like it always had an adequate reserve. MotorTrend‘s staffers disagreed on engine note: Some thought the Lexus sounded better, but others thought its gurgling noises sounded unrefined.

In terms of ride and handling, however—and much to our surprise—the Lexus had a clear advantage. How could that be? When the Genesis GV70 won our MotorTrend SUV of the Year title, we specifically noted its excellent responses, but our first test of the GV70 2.5T demonstrated that without the optional Sport Prestige package, the GV70 is more about luxury than sport. Nothing wrong with that, mind you: Around the sharp, twisty curves of our test route, the GV70 felt big and solid like a German luxury car (as it was designed to do). The steering was a little slow, though, and we found the effort a little too light in Normal mode and too heavy in Sport mode. We know the Sport Prestige package makes the GV70 much more enjoyable; without it, the Genesis isn’t as much of a grin-generator, though it acquitted itself well.

But not as well as the Lexus. The NX350 was an eye-opener: Compared to the GV70, it felt smaller, lighter, and nimbler, dancing through curves with a youthful eagerness missing from the Genesis. Grip was only moderate, but the Lexus’ chassis made the best of it, and the steering heft and feel were just right. The NX350’s ride was notably stiffer than the GV70’s, but the Lexus did a better job absorbing serious jolts. We were genuinely caught off guard by how much fun it
was to fling the NX around corners—that was not at all what we expected from a Lexus, and we came away convinced the F Sport package really delivers. The NX350 felt like the playful kid while the GV70 played the role of the sober adult.

Genesis GV70 vs. Lexus NX350: Who Wins?

To say we were impressed by the way the 2022 Lexus NX350 went down the road is a big understatement: We never expected a Lexus, even one labeled F Sport, to be quite so enjoyable. And we like the NX’s interpretation of luxury: It’s aimed at younger buyers, those who we imagine are more likely to toss out their preconceived notions of what prestige looks like. We think they’ll find the Lexus NX350 a compelling package.

Still, as we progressed through our day of testing, the 2022 Genesis GV70 took an early lead it never gave up, though the contest tightened on our curvy handling route. But that’s only one portion of our test, and the GV70 feels more powerful and prestigious overall, and it also offers a larger, better back seat and easier-to-use controls. We had a few serious complaints about the Lexus; we had nothing but minor nits to pick in the Genesis.

But wait, we’re a car publication, for goodness’ sake! How can we say the better-handling vehicle is the loser of a comparison test?

It all comes down to the bottom line. The Lexus cost over $3,000 more than the Genesis, and for just a bit more we could have upgraded the GV70 with the Sport Prestige package, which, as we know from prior experience, would have made it the equal of (if not superior to) the NX350 F Sport on those back roads. Alternatively, to get this NX down to the price of this GV, we would have had to lose the $5,030 F Sport package, thus eliminating one of the SUV’s best attributes. It’s notable the Genesis won this competition despite a distinct disadvantage; leveling the playing field would only widen its lead.

That said, although the 2022 Lexus NX350 didn’t win this comparison, it did win our respect. Despite its faults, it’s a wonderful little luxury compact SUV overflowing with personality, and it’s a good pick for buyers whose idea of luxury differs from that of their parents. Of course, there’s a reason poshness of the sort offered by the 2022 Genesis GV70 has endured for so long. It struck us as amusing that veteran Lexus makes an SUV more suitable to the youth market, while newcomer Genesis has already mastered its own take on traditional luxury. Both make great compact luxury SUVs; the Genesis GV70 simply does the job better.

2nd Place: 2022 Lexus NX350 AWD F Sport

Pros: Surprisingly good handling, novel approach to luxury, crisp new center screen.

Cons: Nonintuitive touch controls, tighter rear seat, a few downmarket materials.

Verdict: An all-around excellent crossover just a few steps shy of greatness.

1st Place: 2022 Genesis GV70 AWD 2.5T

Pros: Nails the traditional luxury marks, looks fantastic, intuitive technology.

Cons: Needs Sport package to deliver grins, no perfect steering setting, shift and infotainment knobs too similar.

Verdict: Our reigning SUV of the Year is packed with value and wide-ranging goodness, so it adds another victory to its trophy case.

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2022 Genesis GV70 AWD (2.5T) Specifications 2022 Lexus NX350 AWD F Sport Specifications
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbo port- and direct-injected DOHC 16-valve  I-4, alum block/head Turbo port- and direct-injected DOHC 16-valve  I-4, alum block/head
DISPLACEMENT 2,497 cc/152.4 cu in 2,393 cc/146 cu in
POWER (SAE NET) 300 hp @ 5,800 rpm 275 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 311 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm 317 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
REDLINE 6,250 rpm 6,200 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 14.4 lb/hp 14.6 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.18:1/2.36:1 3.33:1/2.24:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 13.9:1 00.0:1
BRAKES, F; R 13.6-in vented disc; 12.8-in vented disc 12.9-in vented disc; 12.5-in vented, disc
#REF! 8.0 x 19-in cast aluminum 7.5 x 20-in cast aluminum
#REF! 235/55R19 105W Michelin Primacy Tour A/S GOE (M+S) 235/50R20 100V Bridgestone Alenza A/S 02 (M+S)
WHEELBASE 113.2 in 105.9 in
TRACK, F/R 64.9/65.6 in 63.2/64.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 185.6 x 75.2 x 64.2 in 183.5 x 73.4 x 65.8 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 7.3 in 7.7 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 19.0/22.6 deg 16.0/25.0 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 37.7 ft 40.0 ft
CURB WEIGHT (DIST F/R) 4,306 lb (52/48%) 4,005 lb (60/40%)
HEAD ROOM F/R 39.6/39.1 in 37.1/37.4 in
LEG ROOM F/R 41.3/37.2 in 41.0/36.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM F/R 59.1/56.9 in 56.3/54.0 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 56.9/28.9 cu ft 46.9/22.7 cu ft
TOWING CAPACITY 3,500 lb 2,000 lb
0-30 2.2 sec 2.6 sec
0-40 3.3 3.8
0-50 4.5 5.4
0-60 6.0 7.1
0-70 7.8 9.1
0-80 9.9 11.7
0-90 12.3 14.7
0-100 15.2  —
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.0 3.7
QUARTER MILE 14.5 sec @ 97.4 mph 15.4 sec @ 92.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft 120 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.84 g (avg) 0.82 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.9 sec @ 0.65 g (avg) 27.0 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,400 rpm 1,500 rpm
BASE PRICE $42,595 $47,725
PRICE AS TESTED $51,320 $54,410
AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, front center, f/r curtain, driver knee 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee, front passenger thigh
BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 yrs/100,000 miles 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/Unlimited miles 4 yrs/Unlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY 17.4 gal 14.5 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 22/28/24 mpg 22/28/25 mpg
EPA RANGE, COMB 418 miles 363 miles
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded premium

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