The Car Connection Lexus UX Overview
With the UX, Lexus now offers a small crossover SUV to compete with rivals such as the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, the Audi Q3, and the Volvo XC40.
It's taken a while. Some of those vehicles have been on sale for five years or more in the U.S.
Introduced in the 2019 model year, the UX carried over into 2020 with few changes.
MORE: Read our 2020 Lexus UX review
The UX's styling comes from the same bin as the bigger NX and RX crossovers, but it's translated to a much smaller vehicle. The UX's spindle grille and finned taillamps and pronounced air intakes translate better in person than they do on the screen: the UX seems squat and purposeful, and with a neatly integrated cabin decked out in colorful schemes, it's more a luxury effort than the RAV4-derived NX.
Lexus offers two UX crossovers in its maiden year on the market. The 176-horsepower UX250h hybrid couples an inline-4 with motors and batteries to provide through-the-road all-wheel drive; one motor devotes its power to rear-wheel traction, unconnected to the front axle. It shifts via an electronically controlled CVT with simulated gear ratios. The 168-hp front-drive UX200 has a conventional inline-4, teamed to a transmission that mates a CVT with a single fixed gear to provide a total of 10 real or simulated gears. It's complex, but helps the UX deliver up to 33 mpg as a front-driver. Hybrids are pegged by Lexus at 38 mpg combined.
Though it rides well, the Lexus UX isn't focused on performance. Its chief virtue is a back seat that's larger than its competition in useful ways. It's more comfortable for tall passengers than the GLA, for example. In front, passengers get very snug-fitting sport seats on F Sport models, and plusher chairs in other versions. No Lexus UX comes with leather seats, though. Cargo space is fine with the gas-powered UX200, but hybrids lose a few cubic feet to battery housing.
Every 2019 UX comes with automatic emergency braking, as well as automatic headlights and adaptive cruise control. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick for its maiden model year. Power front seats, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay compatibility also come standard; option packages bundles features such as navigation, premium audio, a sunroof, and in-car Amazon Alexa service.
Lexus says it will offer the car through a subscription model, but no details have been confirmed.
A battery-electric version of the UX has been rumored, but no official plans have been confirmed.