An Entry-Level Crossover for the Near-Luxury Set
The love affair with all things SUV continues unabated worldwide. There is a size, price point, and shape for just about any buyer today as consumers turn their nose up at traditional passenger cars in favor of an SUV/crosover. Entry-level SUVs are especially in demand these days—the most recent one to join the party is the 2019 Lexus UX.
The UX stands for “Urban+X-over.” The UX is Lexus’ smallest crossover slotted below the Lexus NX and is now the new entry-level model in the Lexus SUV range. It’s a design that takes the Lexus design DNA and presents it in an attractive small package with a comfortable interior. The UX has several powertrains and trims along with a long list of feature options and colors that will help a UX buyer to create a unique vehicle based on their personal preferences.
The UX makes no illusion that it is ready for off-roading. As the UX name implies, it is an urban jungle vehicle, ready to tame that daily commute.
A New Platform
The UX is the first Lexus constructed on Toyota’s Global Architecture-Compact (GA-C). This platform also underpins the Toyota C-HR and the Corolla hatchback. This platform gives the UX a 103.9-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 177 inches. The short wheelbase provides the UX with a tight 34-feet turning circle that is perfect for inner-city maneuvering. Our test model was the top-of-the-line 2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport with a new generation Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain.
This configuration teams a 2.0-liter DOHC Atkinson cycle engine with two electric motors with 181 total horsepower driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that emulates a 10-speed transmission. A smaller electric motor incorporated into the rear differential helps power distribution between the front and rear axles that are electronically optimized automatically by the vehicle stability control system. This setup also increases stability in cornering by adjusting rear-wheel power to correct over and understeer conditions.
The UX can drive on electric power alone for short distances, but the hybrid powertrain shows its strengths at speed, allowing the UX to glide on electric power alone at speeds up to 71 mph. The CVT is programmed to select an optimal drive ratio that matches the drive system’s power band for good torque delivery whenever needed. Fuel economy is good, but not exceptional with an EPA rating of 21 mpg city/38 highway/39 combined. During our time with the UX, we observed 38 mpg with a smallish 10.6-gallon tank.
The UX has a unitized steel body structure with aluminum doors, hood, and front fenders and a polymer and aluminum rear hatch. Despite all of the lightweight materials, the UX still tips the scale at about 3,600 pounds.
The exterior carries over the Lexus DNA with its sizeable distinctive grill, sharp-edged LED headlights and edgy front fenders. The best view of the UX is the three-quarter rear view highlighting a rear taillight LED light bar that joins the taillights together. Eighteen-inch low profile run-flat tires give the UX a sharp look. The UX is available in 10 different colors, including our car’s very striking Ultrasonic Blue Mica.
An Interior That is Very Lexus
The UX takes the Lexus interior DNA and carries it over pretty much intact from its bigger siblings. If you have ever been in any other current model Lexus, you will feel pretty much at home in the UX. The UX has many of the luxury touches you would expect on the bigger Lexus vehicles, but it is not a complete clone. Common items like the drive mode selectors on the instrument panel, and the F Sport sliding gauges and the large 10.25-inch infotainment display are carried over intact, but the climate control thankfully has its dedicated toggle controls that don’t require digging through menus on the center display. Being an entry-level vehicle, the UX has some entry-level parts, and that is evident in the hard plastic, shin-splitting door panels that look like they belong in a Corolla. The UX has 13 interior color combinations that put Tesla to shame.
Apple CarPlay is standard on the UX and is much easier to select and operate using the dreadful Lexus Enform Remote touchscreen interface than attempting to use it with other standard Lexus on-screen controls. The overall UX interface continues to get better than in previous generations of Lexus displays, but it still has a way to go. A unique improvement in the UX is a set of grouped controls for volume, tuning and media in a wrist-rest pad just aft of the Lexus Enform Remote touch control pad. The UX keeps all of the more frequently used media controls “right at hand.” It does not take long to be able to use this control set without having to take your eyes off the road to operate them.
While the UX does feel like a Lexus inside, it never quite lets you forget that the UX is essentially a compact five-door hatchback. You will notice this immediately in the backseat. Seating most passengers in the rear will require the driver and front passenger to move their seats forward and share the lack of space. The sloping roofline makes it difficult to sit upright in the rea, and, while it is not as bad as trying to sit in the back of an LC 500h, being seated in the rear for any distance will not be fun.
Cargo capacity is tight as well. Lexus says that the rear cargo space is 21.7 cubic feet, but the cargo area has a high load floor that makes it difficult to set a bag of groceries upright, much less luggage for four passengers. Lexus did not list the total cargo space with the rear seats down, but an unscientific measurement estimated that an additional 22 cubic feet are available.
Does it Drive like a Luxury Lexus?
The UX is Lexus’s entry-level SUV and shares many of its parts with its Toyota entry-level cousins, so there is some compromise. Our hybrid F sport model had a good firm ride that was well-controlled. The cabin was quiet, except for a certain amount of tire and road noise that made it into the cabin. The sound system is good and can be adjusted so that it overpowered the general noise that came from the road. The 181 horsepower four-banger engine, combined with its CVT transmission, is one of the better drivetrains of this type we have experienced. The usual droning of an underpowered drivetrain was minimal, and only really made itself known when the pedal was to the metal. The electric hybrid portion of the drivetrain helped keep things from sounding too busy. In city driving the hybrid electric motors did most of the work, which made for a smooth drive.
The 2019 Lexus UX has six trim levels starting with the UX 200 priced at $32,000 for a non-hybrid model. The UX 250h hybrid and the UX 200 F Sport start at $34,000, and the range-topping UX 250 h F-Sport starts at $36,000. The Luxury trim level is prices at $37,200 for the 200 model and $39,200 for the 250h.
Our $36,000UX 250h F-Sport test vehicle included several options, including blind-spot monitoring, wireless phone charging, an advanced navigation system with a premium sound system, parking assist, cross traffic alert with braking, moonroof, and heated seats and steering wheel for an additional $5,760, plus $1,025 for delivery, processing and handling for a grand total of $42,785. As always, there are promotions and specials, so your price will most likely be less.
As a compact SUV/crossover, the 2019 Lexus UX 250h Hybrid certainly delivers as a striking entry-level luxury vehicle. It is loaded with technology and is a real head turner. It is competitively priced and optioned like other compact luxury SUVs like the Audi Q3, the Mercedes GLA class, Volvo XC40, and BMW X2. If you are considering any of these small SUVs, then be sure to add the Lexus to your consideration list.
In order to give you the best perspective on the many vehicles available, Clean Fleet Report has a variety of contributors. When possible, we will offer you multiple perspectives on a given vehicle. This comes under SRO-Second Road Test Opinion. We hope you’ll enjoy these diverse views–some are just below—and let us know what you think in comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry’s lessons from the Lexus UX 250h
Comparison Test: 2019 Lexus UX 200 & 250h F Sport (John’s view)
Road Test: 2019 Lexus LS 500h Hybrid
Road Test: 2019 Lexus TX 450h Hybrid
Road Test: 2018 Lexus LC 500h Hybrid (Larry’s view)
Road Test: 2018 Lexus LC 500
Road Test: 2018 Lexus NX 300h Hybrid (John’s view)
Road Test: 2018 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid
Road Test: 2018 Lexus LS 500h Hybrid
Road Test: 2018 Lexus NX 300h (Steve’s view)
Road Test: 2018 Lexus LC 500h Hybrid (Steve’s view)
Road Test: 2018 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid
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