The 2019 Lexus UX is a new compact crossover that shares the platform of the Toyota C-HR. The smallest Lexus utility vehicle, it’s worth the wait.
The 2019 UX outscores some of its rivals with a nicer ride and more space in the rear. Its styling is dramatic, while the cabin is stylish; call it fierce on the outside and friendly on the inside.
The new crossovers comes as a front-wheel-drive UX200 making 168 horsepower, and an all-wheel-drive UX250h hybrid making 176 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a CVT. The UX weighs about 3,600 pounds.
The EPA rates the UX200 at 29 mpg city, 37 highway, 33 combined. The front-drive hybrid is pegged at 42 mpg combined, the AWD model, 39 mpg combined.
The 2019 UX hasn’t been crash tested yet, but standard equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors and a head-up display are standard on all models beyond the base Premium.
Both Lexus UX versions come in three trim levels: Premium, Luxury, and F Sport.
The $33,025 Lexus UX200 comes with front-wheel drive, while the $35,025 Lexus UX250h has all-wheel drive. Standard equipment in both Premium models includes cloth upholstery, power sunroof, 6-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, and USB ports front and rear.
The Luxury models adds synthetic leather seats with heating and cooling, power tilt/telescope steering, blind-spot monitors, and a hands-free tailgate.
F Sport models add firmer suspension tuning, paddle shifters for the CVT, active sound control for a sportier exhaust note, sport seats, a larger gauge display screen, and F Sport badging.
Navigation is available with a 10.3-inch display screen. Apple CarPlay comes standard, but Android Auto isn’t available.
The themes of the Lexus UX are familiar and comfortable and the execution is edgy. The big sharp hourglass spindle grille, dewlaps at the nose, checkmark LED headlights, and finned taillights are all distinctive. A red LED light bar runs the width of the tail, topped by delicate fins at its ends.
The F Sport package adds an expressive body kit with revised bumpers, a mesh grille, and 18-inch wheels that seek attention.
In the UX’s front seats, standard 8-way power seats are good in grippy cloth, and the synthetic leather seats in the F Sport are snug. The instrument panel is covered by a textured material that feels like waxed cloth. Piano-like keys for climate controls are mounted on the center stack, under a 7.0-inch display screen that grows to 10.3 inches with the optional navigation. There’s an optional smartphone tray with wireless charging squeezed ahead of the shift lever. Lexus’ infotainment system, called Remote Touch, remains a multi-step system with lots of learning time involved.
The UX has ample interior room for its size. The rear seats are ready for six-footers as long as they don’t have big feet, as the rear doors aren’t very wide at the bottom. But there’s good leg room, 33.1 inches, which is more than rivals.
The rear seats fold down easily to expand cargo space. The UX250h hybrid has 17.1 cubic feet of storage space under its hatchback, while the UX200 has 21.7 cubic feet.
The UX200 uses a normally aspirated 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine making 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steps programmed to feel like a 10-speed automatic transmission. The F Sport gets paddle shifters.
The UX accelerates from 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds. Dial it between its Normal, Sport, and Eco drive modes, and the UX alters its throttle mapping and its steering weight.
The UX250h uses a 2.0-liter engine on the Atkinson lean-burn cycle, mated to two electric motors powered by nickel-metal hydride batteries, and a complex electronically controlled CVT. The combined horsepower is 176, just 7 more than the UX200, which cuts the 0-60 mph time by 0.3 seconds, to 8.6 sec. It’s quickerΓÇöand it’s more efficient.
The UX is fairly entertaining around town, with an even-tempered steering feel. The hybrid feels less precise because of its extra battery weight. The F Sport feels the most sporty, thanks to stiffer springs and stabilizer bars. Its sense of control is still gentle, but it feels more sure-footed.
The suspension has struts in front and a compact multi-link setup in the rear, and it delivers a very smooth ride for a compact crossover. That’s because of softer coils, says Lexus. The UX uses run-flat tiresΓÇô225/50RF-18s with all-season treadsΓÇôbut the ride doesn’t suffer from the harder rubber. The UX feels like it moves through bumps, rather than bouncing over them.
The 2019 Lexus UX has exceptional fuel economy and a smooth ride in hybrid form. The F Sport offers more lively handling, however. In any case, the new UX offers utility and the Lexus reputation at a smaller price than ever before.