Plug-in hybrids represent a comfortable middle ground as medium luxury SUV shoppers make the switch to electrified power. Does the BMW X3 or Lexus NX put the better electric foot forward?
This comparison pairs the BMW X3 hybrid with its new Lexus NX hybrid rival. Importantly, these are plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) that will run solely on electricity if asked.
More than being fuel-sipping hybrids, these two vehicles must be luxurious to match their lofty price points. The BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid costs $104,900 before on-road costs, and the Lexus NX450h+ plug-in hybrid begins at $89,900 before on-road costs.
The BMW X3 xDrive30e sits one rung below the flagship specification of its range, the fully-electric BMW iX3. It contains seating for five people, has an all-wheel drivetrain, and a four-cylinder petrol engine paired with an 11.15kWh lithium-ion battery pack. You can find out more detail about the BMW X3 xDrive30e in our review.
The Lexus NX450h+ is the top variant in the 2022 Lexus NX range and also contains seating for five people, sends power to all four wheels, and has a four-cylinder petrol engine with an 18.1kWh battery pack. The full Lexus NX450h+ review is found here.
|Key details||2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e||2022 Lexus NX450h+|
|Price (MSRP)||$104,900 plus on-road costs||$89,900 before on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Phytonic Blue||Cobalt|
|Options||Ash trunkwood open-pore wood trim – $269||Mica paint –$1750|
|Price as tested||$105,169 plus on-road costs||$91,650 before on-road costs|
|Drive-away price||$113,418 drive-away (Melbourne)||$100,043 drive-away (Melbourne)|
Join us as we ask the key pertinent points about each of these cars to decide which one contains the better blend of efficiency and luxury.
How much does the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid cost?
BMW isn’t the only prestige manufacturer offering plug-in hybrid variants of its SUVs, the plug-in hybrid X3 goes up against the Mercedes-Benz GLC300e and Lexus NX450h+. But it is one of the most expensive. Whereas rivals begin under the $100K mark, the BMW X3 xDrive30e costs $104,900 before on-road costs.
Forgetting how much more it is than its competition, to put that price into even more perspective – it’s $17,000 more expensive than the aforementioned xDrive30i petrol variant.
For that money, the BMW X3 xDrive30e scores kit including a 12.3-inch infotainment display with an equal-sized digital instrument cluster, head-up display, panoramic sunroof, seat heating, M Sport package, adaptive suspension, ambient lighting, and both domestic use (type 2) and public charging (CCS) charging cables.
Frustratingly, BMW still only offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on its vehicles. While the hybrid battery is warranted for six years (with 100,000km stipulation), the car itself is only covered for three years. BMW’s competition is doing better when it comes to having its owners’ backs, with brands including Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Lexus, and Audi all covering their vehicles for five years.
Servicing costs can be covered using the BMW Service Inclusive package, which costs $2010 and covers owners for five years or 80,000km.
How much does the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid cost?
The Lexus NX450h+ is offered in one specification – the flagship F Sport – and represents the most expensive point in the entire NX range, with a starting price of $89,900 before on-road costs.
That’s almost $30,000 more than the entry-level NX variant, and substantially more than Lexus’s existing (non plug-in) hybrid NX variants, which start at closer to $70,000.
For its first-ever NX450h+, Lexus has made some equipment standard that’s optional elsewhere in the NX range, including a sliding moonroof, digital rear-view mirror, and heated steering wheel.
Mercifully, the interface on the new NX has been streamlined and consists mainly of two large screens – one 14.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment controls, and an 8.0-inch non-touchscreen for the driver display.
The NX450h+ receives a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, plus a 10-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty for its battery.
Capped-price servicing is available for three years at 15,000km intervals, with each service capped at $495 – or $1485 in total. That’s solid value.
The Lexus NX hybrid costs less on initial outlay and is also served by a longer warranty and cheaper servicing costs.
Is the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive?
The BMW X3 xDrive30e features and all-wheel-drive system powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, though it’s paired with an electric motor to make a combined 215kW/420Nm. This drive is routed through an all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
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BMW says the X3 PHEV can run from zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds, and it feels suitably fast by the seat of the pants. The two power plants work in unison to deliver a strong and intentional punch when the throttle is depressed, while the transmission is incredibly smooth in all applications.
Is the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid all-wheel-drive?
The Lexus NX450h+’s all-wheel drivetrain comes courtesy of a hybrid system that combines a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission, with two electric motors that drive the front and rear axles.
Lexus quotes a combined 227kW power output from the system overall – that breaks down to 136kW/227Nm from the petrol engine, 134kW/270Nm for the front electric motor, and 40kW/121Nm for the rear electric motor. But as with its regular hybrids, Lexus doesn’t provide a combined torque figure for the system overall.
The petrol engine is a little less exciting than its electric counterpart, but it has the right amount of oomph for freeway driving and power is delivered steadily but effectively.
The BMW X3’s powertrain comes at a higher price but offers less outright power than the Lexus NX which is why the NX plug-in hybrid stocks the better all-round powertrain in this comparison.
What is the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid electric range?
According to BMW, the BMW X3 xDrive30e will run up to 41 kilometres on electric power alone. Together with the petrol powertrain, BMW says the X3 xDrive30e uses 3.2L/100km on a combined cycle, though our testing revealed it actually uses 6.5L/100km.
What is the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid electric range?
Lexus claims 87km of electric-only range, but fully charged our test car had a real-world figure of 67km.
Lexus quotes 1.3L/100km of fuel consumption for the NX450h+, but that’s assuming you have a full battery and don’t need to use much petrol power.
Once we switched to the combination drive modes, real-world fuel consumption sat at 5.6L/100km.
The Lexus NX450h+ runs further on electric power than the BMW X3, plus its hybrid powertrain uses less fuel overall than the BMW X3 xDrive30e.
How long does it take to charge the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid?
You’ll have to regularly charge the BMW X3 using one of the fast chargers dotted around your city, or by plugging it into your house’s powerpoint. While the former will charge the vehicle quicker, plugging into a 3.7kW BMW Wallbox charger after a day of driving should see the car’s 11.15kWh lithium-ion powerpack charged in a claimed 3.8 hours.
BMW says the battery can be charged using a normal household power outlet, but it will take seven hours at a charging rate of 1.8kW.
Neatly, the battery can also be charged by the car itself using the ‘Battery Control’ function. This is useful if you want to save the car’s electric drive for a specific point on your journey. The car will charge its battery to a predetermined (by the driver) percentage before reverting to normal hybrid power.
How long does it take to charge the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid?
To charge your car’s battery, you’ll receive two different charging cables included in your purchase of the NX450h+.
The first plugs into a regular wall socket, which will charge your battery from empty to full in 7.5 hours, and the second is a Type 2 plug for a public AC charging station, which will take 2.5 hours.
Battery charging mode means the petrol engine runs consistently, but uses idle power to recharge the battery – great for when you’re doing freeway driving, and want to accrue EV range for later use.
While the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid will charge faster on household power than the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid, the NX claws back some time when charging on higher-output AC outlets. Both contain the ability to ‘hold onto’ charge when on the move, which is a handy feature to reserve electric power for when you’re driving around town.
What is the boot space of the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid?
A downside of opting for the battery-equipped BMW X3 variant is a reduction in boot space. While you do get a power boot release to access the cavity, capacity is reduced by 100L when compared to its petrol-powered counterparts. This means the boot can fit just 450L with the rear seats in use, while it can expand to 1500L if they’re flattened.
|2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e||2022 Lexus NX450h+|
|Boot volume||450L seats up / 1500L seats folded||520L seats up / 1411L seats folded|
What is the boot space of the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid?
Boot size has also increased from 475L in the old NX to 520L in the new one with all seats in use, with no boot space penalty for opting for the plug-in model.
The Lexus NX plug-in hybrid manages to not lose any space over its petrol-powered range-mates, something which the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid unfortunately succumbs to. The Lexus NX450h+ has a much larger boot than the BMW X3 xDrive30e.
How quiet is the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid?
The BMW X3’s drive experience is quiet and refined, with a comfortable ride quality and a well-insulated cabin shunning outside road noise. While the ride is firm (a BMW trademark), the xDrive30e deals with bumps quickly and without too much intrusion to the interior.
A positive of the firmer-set suspension is it’s a fun thing to drive dynamically. Turn the drive mode to Sport and the car’s adaptive dampers will firm up and the steering becomes weighty, making for a fun driving experience when the wheels turn towards tight switchback corners.
The switch between petrol and electric power is almost imperceptible.
How quiet is the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid?
The Lexus NX450h+ offers a quick and silent driving experience, with lightning-fast acceleration from a standstill and that addictive instant torque contributing to a warp-speed sensation.
The shift between petrol and electric power is well-executed, although going from utter silence in electric mode to sudden engine noise can occasionally paint the dull drone of the continuously variable transmission in a less-than-flattering light.
It’s not a totally wafty, marshmallowy ride, but what you do feel in the cabin is minimal and gives the sensation of being engaged with the road, adding to an overall racier and more dynamic experience. Lexus NX F Sport models use adaptive suspension, so it can adjust to suit conditions.
|Key details||2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e||202X MMV2|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||135kW @ 6500rpm petrol
|136kW @ 6000rpm petrol
134kW front electric motor
40kW rear electric motor
|Torque||420Nm @ 1350-4000rpm petrol
|227Nm @ 3200–3700rpm petrol
270Nm front electric motor
121Nm rear electric motor
|Drive type||All-wheel drive||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque convertor automatic||Electronic continuously variable automatic (e-CVT)|
|Power to weight ratio||109.7kW/t||111kW/t|
The BMW X3’s turbocharged petrol engine gives off less engine noise when compared to the Lexus NX’s naturally-aspirated petrol engine. Both are near silent when in electric mode, however the sound dampening in the BMW is better executed.
Is the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid a big car?
It’s taken BMW some time to find its groove with its cabins, but the German marque is back among the best with its latest range. Whereas preceding models looked tired and plasticky, the interior of the BMW X3 xDrive30e presents well and stocks an adequate amount of technology.
Materials use is also top-notch, with surfaces covered in Vernasca leather upholstery and other fancy adornments like metal-embellished window switches and woodgrain trim accents. Everything is ergonomically at hand and the driver’s seat can be manipulated into a comfortable, high-perch driving position. Vision out of the wagon-bodied SUV shape is excellent and cabin ambience is heightened by a standard panoramic sunroof.
First-row passengers are treated to a great amount of headroom and space for legs. Those in the back row are also catered to with comfy legroom and good space side to side. Materials used in the back seat are also high-quality.
Is the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid a big car?
The seats in our Lexus NX450h+ test car were finished in a snappy black-and-white leather and had a race-car look to them, but may feel a little snug at the sides for broader drivers.
Still, despite a reasonably wide centre console, front occupants will find leg, head and shoulder room more than satisfactory. The new NX has benefitted from an overall size increase on the old model, with a marginally longer wheelbase and added width and height contributing to extra cabin room.
In the back seat, outboard passengers score nice wide seats, with head clearance and access to wide armrests on the door and a centre armrest with cupholders.
Both cars in this plug-in hybrid comparison cater very well in terms of cabin space and cabin presentation. As stated previously, the Lexus NX450h+ does receive a bigger boot than the BMW X3 xDrive30e.
Is the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid a safe car?
The Australian New Car Assessment Program last evaluated a BMW X3 in 2017 where it was awarded a full five-star safety rating. This testing was actually completed on the pre-facelift X3, though this new iteration inherits the predecessor’s top score.
Much of the X3’s safety kit is controlled using a handy button below the infotainment screen. Push this button and you can configure how you want the active safety systems to alert you to any impending danger or to turn them off altogether.
Active safety kit includes autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. It also scores a surround-view 360-degree camera system.
Is the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid a safe car?
The new NX received a five-star rating from independent safety assessor ANCAP in 2022. For the new-generation NX, Lexus has made speed-sign recognition, autonomous emergency braking for intersections and reverse autonomous braking, emergency steering assist, a pre-collision system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, and adaptive radar active cruise control with lane-trace assist all standard across the range.
The NX also debuts Lexus’s new safe-exit assist feature, which will warn you if there are vehicles or cyclists coming up from behind the car and even prevent the door from opening – particularly great for children.
Even though both the BMW X3 xDrive30e and Lexus NX450h+ score full five-star ANCAP safety ratings, the Lexus was tested to tougher 2020-2022 protocols. The Lexus also sees the inclusion of more active safety gear including the neat safe-exit system and adaptive cruise control.
Is the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid a good car?
The PHEV powertrain of the X3 xDrive30e is a fantastic demonstration of the technology and will see your fuel bill reduced by a considerable margin, though you will need to be responsible for plugging it in whenever possible.
That said, you do pay a substantial premium in the first place. At over $100K, the variant is one of the most expensive PHEVs in its class, and the additional price over its petrol-only stablemate is eye-watering.
There is no doubt the X3 xDrive30e is a fine product, but whether the purchase is ultimately worth it will come down to how much you value the environment, rather than those keen on saving money at the petrol station.
Is the Lexus NX plug-in hybrid a good car?
The Lexus NX450h+ lands with plenty of on-paper promise, and in our experience, it did what it said it would and even delivered some pleasant surprises.
The electric-only range will get you further than you think it will, and makes the car not only economical to run, but also smooth, silent and super quick off the line.
It’s practical and easy to handle around town, but without compromising on the fun factor. I’d enjoy it just as much doing errands as I would hitting the Great Ocean Road.
The $90,000 starting price is by no means a bargain, but Lexus has packed the plug-in hybrid NX with plenty of standard equipment. Its five-year warranty really sweetens the deal when compared with similarly pricey competitors.
Both the BMW X3 xDrive30e and Lexus NX450h+ offers great looks at what a luxury medium plug-in hybrid SUV should offer. But there is one car that fares better than the other when you put the two side-by-side.
The Lexus NX450h+ might seem pricey within its own range, but the BMW X3 blows it out of the water with a price-tag north of $100k. Consider that BMW skimps on equipment like adaptive cruise control, and a stronger five-year warranty, and the Lexus comes off with a much brighter shine at a lower price.
The BMW’s turbocharged PHEV powertrain might be a little quieter when in use, but the Lexus does offer more power and a larger battery pack which will take you further when on electric power alone.
Lexus also makes no concessions when it comes to boot space, whereas the BMW loses 100 litres compared to its petrol-powered xDrive30i range-mate.
When you consider all of the above, and the fact that the Lexus NX450h+ comes with a much more attractive price-tag, it beats-out the BMW X3 xDrive30e in this comparison.