2019 Lexus UX Preview

FAST FACTS
  • New subcompact crossover SUV serves as entry point to Lexus lineup
  • Offered in UX 200 and UX 250h model series
  • UX 200 has a 4-cylinder engine
  • UX 250h has a hybrid drivetrain
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Optional F Sport trim installs cosmetic and mechanical upgrades
  • Safety system upgrades related to pedestrian and cyclist detection debut
  • Standard Remote Touch Interface infotainment system
  • On sale in the U.S. in December, 2018


Introduction:

Increasingly, luxury brands are using subcompact crossover SUVs to reach down and grab younger consumers in the hope that they will become loyal customers for decades to come. After all, J.D. Power data shows that about half of current vehicle owners will buy the same make the next time they upgrade.

Thus, the 2019 Lexus UX is born. Smaller and less expensive than the Lexus NX, the new subcompact UX looks like a shrunken version of the angular compact NX.

Lexus bases the new UX on the same platform as the Toyota C-HR, in the same way that the NX is derived from the RAV4 vehicle architecture. And like the NX, the UX gets a unique standard powertrain as compared to its Toyota-badged cousin.

Intrigued? Read on to learn more about the new Lexus UX 200 and Lexus UX 250h.

Exterior Features:

You’re not going to mistake the UX for anything but a Lexus. The sharp edges, the deeply defined angles, and the grille scream the brand’s design language at the top of their lungs.

As a upgrade, an F Sport trim package adds even more visual flair thanks to a mesh grille insert, exaggerated fog light bezels, a different rear fascia, unique 18-inch wheels, and Jet Black trim elements.

Interior Features:

Inside, the UX technically seats five people, but four are more likely to be comfortable, especially if the rear passengers are shorter in stature. Lexus says the driving position is similar to a “sport hatch,” but underscores the fact that the seating hip points are higher than a typical car for easier entry and exit.

Interior surfaces are textured in both washi-inspired or leather-pattern graining, and four different interior colors are available. Available leather upholstery employs what Lexus claims are “mathematically derived perforation patterns” as well as an appearance influenced by Japanese quilting techniques.

Lexus departs from the majority of its lineup when it comes to the UX’s dashboard and control layout. Here, the SUV looks simpler and less dramatic, though the widescreen infotainment display and the often-frustrating Remote Touch Interface (RTI) controls are present and accounted for. So too is a compact instrumentation display, inspired by the limited-production Lexus LFA sports car.

Attention to detail is evident in the UX’s slick air vent design. They’re illuminated and incorporate an embedded knob to adjust airflow. Likewise, the piano-key switchgear is an upscale touch.

With the F Sport Package, the UX gains sport-bolstered front seats along with a unique steering wheel covered in a dimpled leather wrap, aluminum pedal covers, and reworked instrumentation that emphasizes sportiness.

Under the Hood:

Lexus uses a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine for the UX 200, and it makes 168 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) powers the front wheels, and Lexus has refined it to improve off-the-line response and to provide more linear acceleration.

The UX 250h uses this same engine, supplemented with an electric assist motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack located under the SUV’s rear seat. Combined, these components provide 176 horsepower. By adding an additional electric motor for the rear wheels, the optional E-Four all-wheel-drive system provides added traction in slippery driving conditions.

By choosing F Sport trim with either version of the UX, you get more than just a stiffer suspension. An Active Sound Control system makes the UX sound like it has a traditional automatic transmission for a more natural driving experience. Switch the F Sport into Sport S+ driving mode and a Sonic Interaction Design function gives the vehicle a more aggressive sound.

Lexus says the UX has the lowest center of gravity in its segment, and in combination with its MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension the company promises impressive ride and handling qualities. The F Sport models can be upgraded with an Adaptive Variable Suspension system that further reduces body roll while at the same time smoothing out the ride on the highway.

Steering is electrically assisted, a column-mounted rather than a rack-mounted system. Typically, this is less than ideal. But Lexus promises “excellent” steering feel. If nothing else, the UX benefits from a tight 34-foot turning radius, which can make quick work of U-turns and parking.

Safety:

With the UX, Lexus has enhanced the vehicle’s standard forward collision warning system. Now, it can detect pedestrians after dark in addition to during the day, and it can help to spot cyclists during daylight hours. It is part of a standard suite of safety systems that includes a forward automatic emergency braking system.

A CoDrive Package is available for the UX. It includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and Lane Tracing Assist. The latter technology helps to center the SUV in its lane to make long-distance driving less fatiguing.

Lexus did not further detail available safety features for the UX, but it is a safe bet to assume that it will also be available with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, safety-related subscription services, a surround-view camera system, and other upgrades.

Technology:

Lexus has not detailed the UX’s infotainment offerings, though the vehicle is equipped with a touch-sensing Remote Touch Interface. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your previous experience with the technology.

No doubt, the setup will offer Lexus Enform services, an embedded navigation system, and a premium sound system as upgrades. Given recent trends, Lexus might also include Apple CarPlay, a feature it has resisted in the past due to concern about privacy issues.