- Attractive styling...
- ... inside and out
- Predictive energy management is intriguing
- Fills a much-needed gap in Lexus' lineup
- On paper, not much power
- CVTs aren't our favorite transmissions
- AWD only with hybrid
- Related Toyota C-HR is underwhelming
The 2019 Lexus UX gives its maker a new entry point for crossovers shoppers.
The 2019 Lexus UX is the automaker's first foray into subcompact luxury crossover SUVs and it's surprisingly tardy. Rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz like the X1 and GLA have been around for years.
The 2019 UX was worth the wait, at least in terms of its styling. Its dramatic styling starts with the brand's signature spindle grille design up front that pairs with a hood that gives more illusion of length than is really there. At 177 inches from head to toe, the Lexus UX is small for a crossover—but a couple of inches longer than the X1 and GLA. Its tail end will garner the strongest reactions, though, with an LED light bar that runs the width of the tailgate and culminates in either end with delicate fins not entirely reminiscent of 1950s Detroit iron (thankfully).
An optional F Sport package adds a unique body kit with revised front and rear bumpers and 18-inch wheels in place of the standard 17-inch design.
Inside, the UX is more business as usual for Lexus, which is to say that it's busy yet harmonious. The crossover's deep dashboard appears to connect to its hood, providing a unique view out from the driver's seat. Rear seat passengers aren't treated to much space; the UX shares its platform with the Toyota C-HR, although the luxury brand's model is a couple of inches longer overall.
The UX will be available in two configurations: UX 200 and UX 250h, the latter denoting its hybrid-electric powertrain. The UX 200 uses a 168-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 that shuttles power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Opt for the UX 250h and power goes to all four corners thanks to dual electric motors, one located on the rear axle that provide all-wheel-drive traction. Total system horsepower for the 250h grows to just 176 hp, which is still on the low end for a pint-size crossover with a luxury badge on its hood.
One more reason to opt for the UX 250h is its predictive energy-saving systems. The UX can be set to learn some of its drivers habits, like where they slow down and accelerate on regular commutes. In turn, the small crossover will start regenerative braking to charge the nickel metal-hydride battery pack earlier if it knows that the vehicle is likely to come to a stop. The UX 250h's system can also work with the built-in navigation to predict hills and traffic to activate regenerative braking earlier and more aggressively. Lexus does point out that these systems can be turned off, however.
Lexus will offer the UX 250h with a slew of safety gear. In addition to the expected automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control systems that come as standard, the UX 250h can now detect and brake for pedestrians regardless of sunlight and cyclists during daylight hours. An option package will add automatic high-beam headlights, active lane control, and road-sign recognition.
Though Lexus isn't positioning the UX as an especially sporty model, the automaker will offer both the UX 200 and the UX 250h with adaptive dampers underneath as part of the F-Sport package.