Pros-New model. Extroverted styling. Fairly roomy. Lively. Adroit handling. Supple ride. Safety features. Hybrid model available.
Cons-Tight behind tall driver. Rear seat needs more thigh support. Narrow rear door openings. Frustrating console touchpad.
Bottom Line-Lowest cost Lexus is well suited to urban driving.
Lexus jumps into the red hot compact luxury crossover market with its new 2019 UX, which is mainly aimed at younger urban buyers. The F Sport version, whichI tested, is especially desirable.
The $34,000 front-drive 169-horsepower UX is the lowest-cost Lexus, although an all-wheel-drive hybrid model lists at about $2,000 more. Rivals of the UX include the BMW X1 and X2, Infiniti QX30, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Volvo XC40. Note that all have upscale nameplates, so the young urban folks at which they're aimed likely have above-average incomes.
I tested the gas-engine version, which has a 2-liter 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine with 151 pound/feet of torque. It provides lively in-town moves and does 65-80 m.ph. acceleration with relative ease, although it's a bit noisy when pushed hard. The engine works with a smooth 10-speed CVT transmission, which has efficient paddle shifters in the F Sport version.
The F Sport has no extra horsepower, not that it really needs more. It only calls for 87-octane fuel for its 12.4-gallon tank. Estimated fuel economy is 29 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on highways. I found it surprising that the tachometer of the 3,307-pound car only read 1,500 r.p.m. at 65 miles per hour. Lexus says top speed is 118 m.p.h.
The front-drive 200 F Sport version is the most distinctive UX model. While the 177-inch-long UX has extroverted styling, the F Sport version looks the sportiest. It has a mildly revised grille, recessed rear bumper and jet-black trim on its front and rear moldings. It's also got very supportive front sport seats, aluminum pedals and discreet "F Sport" badging. Most most importantly, it features revised spring and stabilizer bars for a tighter ride, more-rigid 18-inch wheels with run-flat 50-series all-season tires for more more-responsive handling and extra agility.
My test car had driver controlled Eco and Sport driving modes. Lexus says the Sport mode controls the engine transmission and steering feel, with quicker engine response and firmer steering feel, but the quick steering is firm to begin with and doesn't offer much road feel. The Eco mode provides plenty of acceleration and the best fuel economy. I did virtually all tests in Eco mode because, after all, this is an urban-oriented car driven in often fairly heavy traffic. The brake pedal had a nice linear action, and anti-lock brakes with brake force distribution and brake assist provided good stopping power.
My test car's ride was supple, although sharp bumps could be felt.
The anti-lock brakes are just one of the car's many safety features. They include lots air bags and the Lexus Safety System that features a pre-collision feature with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam headlamps and road sign assist.
You also get a backup camera, a multimedia system with a 7-inch color display, Apple CarPlay compatibility and a 6-speaker premium sound system,
The F Sport's quiet, upscale interior has a digital speedometer tucked inside a large round tachometer, automatic dual zone climate control with rear vents, power front seats, manual folding 60/40 split rear seats that easily flip forward and sit flat. They greatly open up the moderately sized regular cargo area, which I found could barely hold 10 grocery bags. There's also a push-button start and a 7-inch color multi-information display with driving information.
My test car's tempting options included a blind spot monitor, wireless charger, head-up display navigation system with a 10.3-inch color multimedia display, 8-speaker Lexus premium sound system, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, parking assist with rear cross-traffic alert, power trunk door, premium paint, moonroof, heated front seats and a headed F Sport steering wheel with paddle shifter.
All those extra brought the bottom line list price to $40,260, without the $1,025 ldeivery charge. But then a UX 200 F Sport buyer need not get all the extras.
My test car had a roomy front area. A tall occupant behind a tall driver will want more leg room, but the rear area directly behind the front passenger is OK. However, the rear seats need more thigh support, and back door r openings are narrow. Front doors open wide and have storage pockets. The stiff center of the rear seat is best left to the fold-down armrest with its twin cupholders. Front cupholders are easy to reach.
There's what seems to be an near-endless array large and small manual controls for all sorts of functions on and around the dashboard, including buttons to control seat and steering wheel heat in my test car. The offbeat console tuning and volume radio controls at the edge of the armrest initially took me by surprise but made sense because could I could use them without taking eyes off the road. However, the frustrating console touch pad was distractive to use.
My test Lexus UX 200 F Sport proved to be a classy, handy compact luxury crossover and a worthy rival to its competitors.