2019 Lexus UX –  Review & Road Test

2019 Lexus UX – Review & Road Test

I won’t bore you with a discussion of
automotive purchasing trends. Alll you need to know is that subcompact luxury
SUVs are hot. That’s with two T’s, and maybe add an exclamation point or three. You
get the gist. Tiny luxury SUVs are all the rage and
now Lexus has one called the UX. That stands for urban crossover. It
operates in a segment that includes the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40,
Cadillac XT4 and others. Built from the same TNG a platform that underpins the Toyota
CH-R the UX shares the CH-R is 103.9- inch wheelbase, but to be clear the
UX is not simply a Lexus-ized CH-R. It’s lower wider and nearly six-inches longer.
Of course those dimensions have implications for interior space. With the
subcompact Toyota CH-R as our yardstick, overall legroom is essentially the same,
but a lower roof naturally means less headroom. The actual numbers depend on
whether or not you have the sunroof or the F-Sport seats, but in our tester at
five-foot-ten I fit with more than adequate clearance. Hard cut to the back
seats and my knees barely clear. There’s good headroom, but just like the CH-R the
rear quarters of the Lexus UX create a sense of visual claustrophobia. We did a
really good job with that shot Mike. Okay it’s not quite as claustrophobic feeling
as the CH-R. Nothing is. as claustrophobic as the CH-R. For a stronger sensation of roominess,
along with actual roominess, the Volvo XC 40 or Cadillac XT4 are better choices. I’ll also mention
that it might have been neat if the rear seats reclined and the armrests are
covered in soft material, but they’re unpadded invoking a sad squirrel on
the Micah Muzio elbow comfort index. Depending on audience reaction I’m gonna
have to make that index a real thing. On a brighter note the center rear seat is
usable for short journeys. The fold-down center armrest is satisfyingly squishy
and passengers are treated to rear vents plus two USB ports. Open the power
tailgate and you’ll find 21.7-cubic feet to fill, a more than respectable number
for the segment. For an even larger, not quite flat load floor, just lower the
seat backs. You don’t properly have to drop the headrest to do so, but they flip
forward conveniently just like in the Corolla hatchback. Before departing the
interior let’s bust out some rapid-fire observations. There’s an analogue clock,
you know, for the Millennials. Volume and tune inputs for the audio system are
made with these weird rollers, and buttons instead of knobs. The front seat
armrests are well padded, center console storage is accessed through a two-way
cover, just like other Lexuses. The glove compartment has a two-level
divider, this extending sun visor is failing at its job. The overall interior
motif looks modern and premium, confirmed when you touch the soft bits and
contradicted when we scratch our plastics and lastly, look, a CD player.
You know for the Millennials. In powertrain land there are two choices.
First is a 2-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with a continuously variable
transmission in the UX 200. CVTs have a bad rep among car reviewers but the UX
uses the same launch gear technology as the CVT in the Corolla Hatchback, and
honestly I like that CVT. Funny how all those Corolla bits in a Lexus are a good
thing. Bottom line, choose the UX 200 and you probably won’t hate how it drives.
Plus, it’s quite efficient. Engine option two is an all-wheel drive hybrid
powertrain found in the $2,000 pricier UX 250h and it’s an interesting one. In
front there’s a four-cylinder teamed with a pair of electric motor
generators and back a third motor drives the rear wheels enabling all wheel drive
traction at speeds up to 43 miles per hour. The system’s nickel metal hydride
battery is conveniently hidden beneath the rear seats. With electric torque and
181 total system horsepower the 250h feels plenty gutsy around town. In fact
it’s a few ticks quicker from zero to 60 then the non-hybrid UX. Eight and a half
seconds to sixty isn’t blazing fast, but it’s fine for urban exploring. The hybrid’s
smooth power delivery when accelerating is contrasted by maddeningly sensitive
breaks when slowing. Not only does the brake pedal feel unnatural but making
small smooth adjustments to pressure is almost impossible. I’m not one to blame
equipment, but coming to a seamless stop is really more luck than skill. If the
brakes in the 250h don’t drive you nutty, outstanding fuel economy will be
your reward. The UX hybrid also offers an EV drive mode for short all-electric stints,
though I’m struggling to find a practical use. I’ll be sure to scour the
comments section for suggestions. At higher speeds save on the freeway bumps
are managed with dignity and interior noise is subdued, though we have noticed a
tendency for the UX to wander on straight stretches necessitating
frequent steering corrections, better. I like how the UX drives including
around corners. When negotiating bends the littlest of Lex-i has a stable
steady feel. Oh, god, that was a big hit. That’s not the cars fault. That was my
fault. All of that supported by smooth steering
with just the right heft. I’m gonna need a moment. There are sporty SUVs but the Lexus
UX wins with a generally confident demeanor. On that note driver visibility
is good in most directions, but a thick B pillar partially blocks the drivers view
left. That’s a convenient segway into safety. For a Lexus Safety System+
2.0 comes standard across the board. A comprehensive suite of driver assist
technologies features full speed dynamic cruise control, pre-collision warning
with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, intelligent high beams, road
sign detection. and lane departure warning featuring steering assist that
intervenes. In refined fashion in cheapest renditions a bass UX 200 has an
MSRP right about $33,000 including destination charges. That price includes
18-inch wheels, LED headlights, Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto smartphone
integration, three drive modes to tailor your UX driving experience and, a 7-inch
infotainment display, though our test cars 10.25-inch screen is
definitely the better choice. Control of that screen occurs through this Lexus
remote touch interface. It allows zoom gestures and swiping and tapping it has
haptic feedback and it even recognizes handwriting. If you go down here and hit
change type and then go to handwriting you can do it. Let’s see yeah there we go.
It’s recognized my name. What fun. The thing is all of those moves and those
screen layouts take a little time to really learn, so I recommend doing that
when you’re not driving 80 miles an hour. Heads up, if you’re my height the gear
shifter will block your view of the remote touch interface when driving, but
honestly you should be watching the road instead. If your budget allows premium
features are available like a foot- activated tailgate, heated and ventilated
front seats, and an F Sport package that elevates the UX’s style and handling
prowess while adding zero percent more power. Versus foes like the BMW X1,
Mercedes-Benz GLA, Cadillc XT4, Volvo XC40, the Lexus UX is competitively priced. On top
of that the UX boasts the Lexus brand acclaimed reliability and resale values,
drives wonderfully aside from those darn hybrid brakes, and it looks properly
daring. In keeping with Lexuses modern design direction
note the expectedly huge grille and the full width rear light consisting of 120
LEDs. Neat. Ultimately there are roomier and sportier choices, but the Lexus UX
succeeds at being the Lexus of subcompact SUVs and honestly that’s all
it needs to be to sell like hotcakes.


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