Home » The 2024 Lexus NX 350 Has The Worst Interior Door Handles I’ve Ever Seen UPDATE: There’s A Good Reason!

The 2024 Lexus NX 350 Has The Worst Interior Door Handles I’ve Ever Seen UPDATE: There’s A Good Reason!

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I’ll be honest with you: I’m way behind on finishing reviews of press cars I’ve gotten. I’ll do my best to get to them, but part of the problem is that for some of these cars, there’s one standout feature or design detail that grabs and holds my attention, like a monkey seizing a Moon Pie from a child’s hand. In this particular case, the car is the 2024 Lexus NX 350 AWD F Sport, and the one detail are its interior door handles, which may be the most over-thought, and confusing disasters I’ve ever encountered in the interior of a car. Just let me vent at you here.

First off, let’s discuss the state of interior car door handles here in the year of our fjord 2024: it’s a solved problem. For the vast majority of cars made in the past, oh, half-century or more, the interior door handles have worked generally remarkably well. They tend to be some manner of little lever that you pull as you push the door open, often with your elbow. While the design of these handles can vary a great deal, the process is generally the same: pull a thing, the door unlatches, you push the door open.

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It’s generally not hard to figure out how to use or a hard act to perform. I say all of this because on the great list of things on cars that deserve to be re-imagined, the interior door handle is pretty far down there. And yet, somehow, Lexus seems to have spent a good amount of time on this non-problem, and the result is something that is, impressively, both harder to use, more confusing, and solves none of the problems of getting a car’s door open, whatever the Lexus design team imagined those to be.

I can show you what I mean, via the magic of moving pictures here, if you’d like, but I’ll break it down in detail here, too. Also, in this video, I mention the exterior door handles, too, which operate with a little button inside the handle instead of the usual pull-handle, but compared to the interior one, that’s trivial. Here, watch:

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Do you see what I’m talking about? Let’s go into this in detail:

Doorhandle1

Okay, here’s the door handle, in its state of rest. Immediately, we see a problem: it has a label on it, giving some kind of instructions. The fact a fucking car interior door handle demands an instructional label on it at all means this handle has already failed. This isn’t new, unfamiliar tech: it’s a car door handle. Also, the label has a little icon that suggests you can remove it, meaning this label is an afterthought, and Lexus wants you to memorize what it does and then ditch it, because they’re embarrassed.

Maybe that’s okay for the people who live with the car every day, but if you get rid of this label, you’re going to have another problem. Because, look at this:

Doorhandle2

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The stuck-on label isn’t the only bit of instructional information on the door handle. In addition to the label that says PUSH OPEN, there’s a little icon of the door handle being pulled open, and that one is permanent and illuminated.

Just take this in for a moment: this simple door handle has two contradictory instructions right on it, before you even touch it. So, what do you do? For this type of handle, I think the natural instinct is to just pull it and then open the door. That’s how a normal door release would work, right? But there’s that sticker telling me to push.

So, okay, let’s say I push there. When you push on the lever, the door latch releases electronically, and you can push the door open. Is this easier than pulling a handle or lever to release a latch? No, not really. Plus, about half the time you push it, if you don’t push the door at exactly the right moment, the latch sort of half-catches and then the door doesn’t open, because it’s still latched, albeit loosely.

This wasn’t just me that had this problem; over the week I had the car, I had five people try this, and, on average, the push-release mechanism wouldn’t really open the door about half the time. The parts technically worked – you could hear the latch release and all that, but if your timing was off by a bit, the door would catch and not be able to be opened.

So, what if we try it the other way, by pulling the handle? You know, like how most door releases work? Let’s take a look:

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Doorhandle3

Oh, good, another label. Fantastic.

This label has The Great Bible of Information, an icon of the car with the door open, and instructs that you must pull the damn thing twice for it to work. Also, the red color sort of implies this is a kind of emergency manual release?

To its credit, the manual release proved to be more reliable than the push-electrical release mechanism, but having to pull the handle twice was irritating.

But that fits, because the whole thing is irritating! Somehow Lexus’s talented engineers and designers got together with the concept of car interior door handles and overthought the whole thing right into a huge cauldron of crap. How did they screw this up so dramatically, and with such needless complexity?

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I suspect that there was some sort of demand that the doors unlatch electrically, under some misguided notion that this feels more “premium” or some similar bullshit. Then they must have realized that this approach demands that a purely mechanical override be present as well, because otherwise if your battery dies or you have some other electrical issue, you’re trapped in the car.

So, that made them design the pull-release mechanical method, which probably worked just fine, because that’s basically how the damn thing should have worked in the first place. So, because the people they were testing it with likely just pulled it to open and were happy in their ignorance that the push-electric actuator method existed, the product people couldn’t just let that happen, so they added the requirement that the pull-mechanical release have to be pulled twice, and then stuck the stupid temporary label on there for the electric method.

It’s so stupid – what has been solved here? How is any of this better than a normal handle? It’s more complex to use, more complex to build, maintain, and repair, confusing, all for what? So they can say it has electronically-released interior door handles? Who gives a shit?

This is a truly impressive unforced error on Lexus’ part. They’ve achieved that elusive trifecta of human-machine interface design: they took something well-understood to the point of invisibility and made it unintuitive, more complex, and more expensive.

Bravo. This is a real triumph for the subtle and beautiful art of absurd overthinking.

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UPDATE

Commenter Jay Z has helpfully given some context to this puzzling design. It actually has a good purpose: not whacking cyclists with doors. You can see what Lexus was trying for here:

Now, this is great! If we can do things to keep from dooring cyclists, that would be fantastic! Could this have been executed better? Definitely, the design is still confusing as hell. For example, why can’t the anti-smack-a-cyclist functionality be separate from the handle mechanism itself, which could be easily understood and conventional, but a separate latch is engaged when the blind spot monitoring system triggers that something is approaching?

A double-pull could still act as an emergency release, and they could just eliminate the “push to open” bit? I’m just thinking here.

Still, glad to hear there’s a good reason behind all of this.

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Dan Wendell
Dan Wendell
11 months ago

I’m pretty sure Tesla still has the worst door buttons and exterior handles.

Matthew Ozmun
Matthew Ozmun
11 months ago

I’m still not taking that as a viable reason to complicate things. I have a Hyundai Palisade and it has the same feature but with normal handles inside and out. I park in the city a lot and the feature works well. If a cyclist or car is approaching, it beeps at me and locks the door until the hazard goes by, or I can hit unlock and pull the handle again… very intuitive!!! Also, they have another brilliant feature that Jason would enjoy. You know that feeling of embarrassment when you sit in the backseat and go to get out and the little child lock is flipped so you need to yell at people to let you out? Hyundai made the window lock button also trigger the child locks. You don’t need to get out and flip the switch on an open door… just push the little window lock button!

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Ozmun

I’m still not taking that as a viable reason to complicate things.

For reals. This will just confuse people who use it in the car.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
11 months ago

I enjoy grumbling about a different sort of interior door handle problem: the placement of them. I my perfect world, the handle would be opposite the steering wheel. Let go of the wheel, move your hand toward the door, and there it is, with your fingers falling easily into place. But so many vehicles require you to reach forward or backward to the latch. Then you need octopus-like dexterity to get a finger around the lever. Remember when “ergonomics” was a buzzword?

Last edited 11 months ago by Alan Christensen
Fe2 O3
Fe2 O3
11 months ago

Yeesh I hope they don’t put this trash on the new GX

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
11 months ago

2020 Lincoln Continental. Pretty similar issue.

  1. In the winter, the ice freezes over the long strip switch on the inside of the door handle on the outside of the car, so you can’t open it until you break out all the ice.
  2. The doors also have a “cinch” feature, that if you only half-ass close the door, the door latch cinches down on the post on the door, to fully close it. It’s good, until…
  3. …you accidently shut the door on the seatbelt (we’ve all done it). Ordinarily, you’d just hold the handle open to release the catch mechanism, and yank or push the door open. BUT….
  4. Since the whole thing is electric, you can’t do it from the outside, because it doesn’t old the latch mechanism open mechanically, and…
  5. You can only do it from the inside, and you have to use the emergency open latch, but remember – you can’t get into the car other than through another door, and you have to hop over the seat, and work your way over the center console.

It’s luxury, but history is full of things that people did in the name of luxury that were ultimately bad ideas…

Michael Rosenquest
Michael Rosenquest
11 months ago

The cyclists thing is a bullshit answer.

My Ioniq 5 has weirdish exterior door handles (flush while locked, pop out when unlocked) but totally normal mechanical interior handles (and zero labels).

If a cyclist or other hazard is in or approaching my door area while I’m opening it, the car warns me the instant the door is unlatched; plenty of time to stop myself from dooring a cyclist or sacrificing my door to a passing car.

Last edited 11 months ago by Michael Rosenquest
NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago

100% of this models owners have to use this crazy door system 100% of the time to protect cyclists?! Every time they open the door in their driveway or garage. Every time they open their doors in a parking lot. Every time they open their doors in winter. In the middle of nowhere on a country road…. they have to do this. Every time they open their doors when there is not a cyclist within 5 miles of them.

Every time.

Greg
Greg
11 months ago

If I door a cyclist it is on purpose. Not that I am doing this but a theoretical me. This won’t change that. I think still bad design.

My Mother ordered one of these, I will have to play around with this when it comes in.

*enter scene*
Car jacker at your door “get out or you get blasted!”
“I can’t sir, you are in the way and my car won’t let me”
*Blast*

Not a realistic scenario maybe, but we are in America, so it sorta is.

Last edited 11 months ago by Greg
David Davison
David Davison
11 months ago
Reply to  Greg

In the days of my youth, I was doored.
The person responsible claimed that she was a cyclist herself and felt bad enough that she drove me home after.
She didnt do it on purpose. Just neglect.
I agree the design on this is bad.

Greg
Greg
11 months ago
Reply to  David Davison

true accidents are always possible, which I guess this design is for. But I guess where is the trade off? We are so litigious that automakers are trying to stop us from doing anything wrong. I’m not going to stop buying new cars, but I am hoping for the pendulum to swing back juuuuust a little.

Methane generator
Methane generator
11 months ago

It’s really not hard to imagine dozens of scenarios where the detector returns a false positive when exiting the vehicle promptly is paramount, both normal situations that turn into small dangers, and dicey situations that escalate.

I hate all these nannying “features” they should never have put windshields on cars…

Greg
Greg
11 months ago

or you are old as hell and only have one chance at a good exit. Now you are falling on your face and broken, thanks Lexus.

Toyota_Twatsicle
Toyota_Twatsicle
11 months ago

I currently have a new NX-350 as a loaner while my RX is in the shop. Before I drove off, the service advisor sat down with me and made sure I understood how to get in and out of the car and how to use the shifter.

Honestly, I get the idea of this safety feature but I feel it could have been easily implemented with keeping the traditional pull to unlock handle. Why reinvent the wheel on something so simple.

SarlaccRoadster
SarlaccRoadster
11 months ago

Hehe, I bet you miss the ID4’s window switches now, Jason 😀

Last edited 11 months ago by SarlaccRoadster
CarlosMachina
CarlosMachina
11 months ago

I’m going to take a half dozen moon pies and a selfie stick to Gibralter.

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
11 months ago

As a cyclist, I appreciate that a car company is giving any thought to the safety of people outside the vehicle in general, but I always ride outside the door zone anyhow. I’m not going to swerve into it because I happen to notice “Oh, that’s a 2024 Lexus NX 350 AWD F Sport, I can safely ride close to it.”

A simpler way to accomplish this goal, it seems, would be to relocate the door handle so you had no choice but to perform a Dutch Reach to get at it, but that would also drive people crazy.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

And you know some angry owner is going to reverse it so the door gets yeeted open when a cyclist is detected.

P Hans
P Hans
11 months ago

This is simply a UI/UX failure. The pull latch we all take for granted and are masters of, could have remained using a fly-by-wire system that use an electromechanical release system that checks for traffic. Here it seems the engineers were in total control and did not let anyone from the design department in the door, except the junior stylist. Nobody thought about the user, it is all function.

DysLexus
DysLexus
11 months ago

This is why:
https://preview.redd.it/nq4sf0oz77921.png?auto=webp&s=43a1519d2bb47b217bf19acf5d1727e5eafe7b92

(Farside cartoon of kid pushing a “pull” door at Midvale School for the Gifted)

Myk El
Myk El
11 months ago

I don’t see how the desired safety necessitates the interior door release to operate the way that it does. I have been in a couple of cars with unlatch by wire with simpler mechanisms that ignore user input (child safety back seat). You could accomplish the same goal with a more obvious to operate mechanism.

-Tom-
-Tom-
11 months ago

The ends did not justify the means on this one.

Erik Waiss
Erik Waiss
11 months ago

I’m going to spend so much attention frustratingly trying to pry this door open from the inside that I’m guaranteed to ignore any flashing lights and I’m totally going to nail someone when I finally kick it open…

Alex Estill
Alex Estill
11 months ago

Crazy idea, but wouldn’t suicide doors reduce the danger to cyclists? I honestly can’t come up with a fool-proof method to completely avoid doorings – the interaction is not consistently on the driver’s side, dutch reach is a deliberate move requiring awareness (no way to enforce it), cyclists maintaining distance from vehicles is impossible in the city, and I can’t come up with a notification system to allow for a cyclist defensive response (hazard lights before door opening or something) that would work consistently.

But a suicide door… when I’ve been involved in or witnessed a dooring the car door has been opened a fraction of a second before the cyclist passes (or fails to pass more accurately). There is zero reaction time, and the cyclist impacts a sharp pointy well-reinforced bit of metal (the edge of the car door, open about 3-6 inches). Impact a suicide door just opened though, and its a glancing/grazing impact, and the operative movement of the door would both allow for some impact absorption and (this is the vindictive cyclist in me talking) place some of the consequence on the vehicle occupant who gets their door slammed back in their face.

Simple, effective, done.

Methane generator
Methane generator
11 months ago
Reply to  Alex Estill

Just get rid of doors altogether. Make them illegal. Problem solved. Oh you don’t like driving without doors? Get the fucking bus then, commuter! Driving enthusiasts will continue to drive.

AlienProbe
AlienProbe
11 months ago

Jeep driver says: “Hold my beer…”

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
11 months ago

Sliding doors; but they have to go ‘whoosh’ like on Star Wars.
(Just playin’ I know that is a Start Trek thing.)
o wait.. minivans already have this feature!

Marteau
Marteau
11 months ago

Am i the only one imagining this god awful “safety” system stopping from ever getting out on the car on a tight or busy street/parking because tight space or too many activities around ?? Eww

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
11 months ago
Reply to  Marteau

Am I the only one imagining being trapped in your car by some jerk (or evil doer) simply standing in the danger zone? And what about cops demanding you get out of your car, but you can’t because the LEO is standing there and doesn’t understand the your attempts to explain why you can’t comply until he moves?

Alex Estill
Alex Estill
11 months ago

As someone who has been doored on a bike AND while driving a car (oblivious Uber passenger, don’t get me started), I respect the intent. Definitely seems like the functionality could have been provided with zero change to the door latch mechanism, though. Just utilize the auto lock programming (the thingy that locks all the doors over 10mph or so) to lock the doors when there is an obstacle detected. Double pull to over-ride the auto lock (already standardized), but with a delay and audible notification.

The primary safety aspect of a pull handle on the door interior IMO is it reduces accidental door openings. You can’t bump or lean on a pull handle and accidentally open the door, it must be a more deliberate action. Now additional design effort is required to protect against the accidental bump, which may be why the timing is so critical.

Ergonomically the latch seems fine – fingers on the armrest above, thumb on the latch button, push and go, but it definitely seems like an overzealous design solution with some un-intended consequences.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
11 months ago

I would consider one of these for my next car, but this might cross it off the list. Just give me a normal door handle. “Cyclist safety” still requires the person operating the door to look around before they open it.

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
11 months ago

I dunno… In my literal neck of the woods/mountains, there are quite a few cyclists who could use a solid whacking. Lots of traffic with blind corners and no shoulder, let alone bike lane, and we end up with countless Russian Rouletters using passersby as the bullets in their idiotic games. Nevermind the frequency with which I catch them pi**ing in my yard, messing with my cars, and various other doorsmack worthy offenses. I often fantasize about following one of them home with a set of rollerblades, and tooling around in their culdesacs keeping them from being able to pull into their driveways, defecating in their bushes, and poking their propane grills.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
11 months ago
Reply to  Spectre6000

seek psychiatric help dude

Michael Sharp
Michael Sharp
11 months ago

The exterior handle/opener operation is fine.As I see it, Jason may not have used the interior opener properly. To do so, you don’t push the lever with one finger, you put your fingers in the handle above the lever, then push the lever in with your thumb. That way, you have a tight grasp on the door as it opens.

The Safe Exit Assist is the over-designed feature that is only there for a very small number of people in a rush who don’t look as they open the door.

Last edited 11 months ago by Michael Sharp
Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
11 months ago

RE: the update, is this really a common enough problem that it needs a complex system to solve it? I can count on no hands the number of times I’ve street parked and failed to check for traffic before opening my door. It’s just what you do.

NotSpanky
NotSpanky
11 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

For anywhere that has cycling lanes inside pushing spaces, yes. Seriously, people do NOT look.
But since the narrative is usually drivers versus cyclists (because no one drives and rides a bike??), I’m actually a little surprised and impressed that a car manufacturer has tried to do anything about it.

Matt Smith
Matt Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  NotSpanky

What percentage of the population even has to worry about this? I street park a handful of times a year at most and of the times I do I have never once had to wait for a cyclist. Yes I look for traffic to make sure my door doesn’t get ripped off. I get we all have our own bias and some people probably encounter cyclists driving by their car daily, but everyone has to suffer this miserable technology all the time? I hope it works better than my cars sensors when I park in close proximity to things in the garage.

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
11 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Agree with Balloon man. Have not heard about the bicycle vs car door epidemic. But!
What if they are forward thinking, anticipating the coming wave of bicycle popularity?

Well .. reality is that the trend is toward electric bikes, which assuredly approach faster than the door / danger sensor can detect .. rendering the feature useless.

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