The 2019 Lexus UX marks the brand’s start into the compact luxury crossover game. This two-row, five-passenger crossover slots below the Lexus NX and RX models in both size and price.
According to Chika Kako, Lexus’ executive vice president and the chief engineer on the UX project, the UX was designed “to appeal to buyers in their 30s who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.” In other words, Lexus is targeting middle-class Millennials who want a luxury crossover that caters to them.
The 2019 Lexus UX will come in two versions – the UX 200 and UX 250h. Both utilize a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powering the front wheels, but the 250h adds a hybrid system and an Atkinson combustion cycle for improved fuel economy.
The new UX borrows its looks from its big brothers, the NX and RX crossovers. Of course, the UX is smaller with an overall length of 177 inches and a wheelbase measuring 103.9 inches. The little ‘ute wears Lexus’ now-iconic Spindle grille and sharp headlights. A rising beltline and sloping roof give it an aggressive stance while black cladding along the wheel wells connects the UX to its crossover class.
Even the UX’s rear is very angular. LED taillights complement an angled bumper and license plate cutout. The sloping rear window is topped by a spoiler that should help with aerodynamic efficiency.
Despite its familiar styling, the UX rides on an all-new architecture called the GA-C, or Global Architecture – Compact. Lexus says the platform is super rigid and offers a low center of gravity. A four-wheel independent suspension system offers a smooth yet sporty ride thanks to MacPherson front struts and a double wishbone rear setup.
Like the exterior, Lexus designers took inspiration from the NX crossover. The dashboard layout is very similar, but is a bit more compressed due to the UX’s narrower track. A hooded gauge cluster recalls that of the LC 500 coupe while the infotainment system is definitely derived from the NX and RX crossovers.
Lexus has also given the 2019 UX its latest version of the Enform infotainment software. The new system includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa voice controls. The trackpad does return, but should be easier to use with the updated system. USB ports and 12-volt outlets keep connectivity and charging on lock.
The standard gas version comes equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 168 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. it utilized direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and a variable capacity oil pump to balance power and efficiency while meeting strict emissions regulations. It’s mated to a Lexus’ new Direct Shift-CVT that’s said to offer a more direct feel than traditional CVTs, but with the benefit of fuel efficiency. Customers who get the optional F Sport trim also get paddle shifters for the CVT.
Those wanting even more fuel sippage will like the UX 250h. It combines a similar 2.0-liter four-cylinder equipped with a full-time Atkinson combustion cycle with a hybrid system. Combined, the UX 250h makes 176 horsepower. Though Lexus doesn’t specify the total combined torque, the 2.0-liter alone makes 133 pound-feet.
The UX 250h utilizes a CVT and comes standard with Lexus’ eAWD system. The system uses an electric motor to power the rear axle, eliminating the need for a transfer case and extra driveshaft. When traction isn’t an issue, power is only sent to the front wheels. Lexus estimates highway fuel economy at 38 mpg.
The UX 250h has another trick up its sleeve – Predictive Efficient Drive. Basically, the system remembers driving habits and incorporates them with current traffic maps to help improve fuel economy. For example, if the driver normally slows down in a particular area, say an intersection, the UX 250h automatically preps itself for increased brake regeneration in the hybrid system.
Like most every modern vehicle, the new UX comes brimming with active safety technology designed to prevent a collision. Here, the systems include dynamic radar cruise control, auto high beams, and pre-collision system. Two new systems join the fray. These are Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist. The first warns the driver with an audible tone if they fail to see a stop sign or pass a Do Not Enter sign. Lane Tracing works along side the automatic cruise control. Should the road marking become invisible, the UX will align itself with the vehicle in front.
Headed to Showrooms
Lexus says the 2019 UX 200 and UX 250h will arrive at dealerships in December of 2018. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but we’re expecting Lexus to aggressively price the UX in hopes of generating a decent sales volume. Expect the price to start around $31,000 – roughly $4,000 less than the NX crossover.
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