The UX is brand new for the 2019 model year and joins the luxury subcompact crossover segment with a lower price than many rivals. It’s comfortable and comes with many driver assistance technologies. But it has a cumbersome infotainment system and most competitors offer livelier handling.
On the outside, the UX has an aggressive silhouette with the trademark Lexus grille. The interior is understated and mostly upscale. Lexus says the name comes from Urban plus Xover (crossover), hence UX. It’s aimed at the “modern, urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving.” It drives much like a sedan but with the higher seating position of a crossover.
The five-passenger UX is available in base, F Sport and Luxury trims with starting prices ranging from $32,000 to $37,200. That’s less than many rivals. There’s also a hybrid, the UX 250h, starting at $34,000. The gas-powered models are only available with front-wheel-drive. The hybrid comes standard with all-wheel-drive.
The UX is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque paired with a 10-speed direct shift continuously variable transmission (DCVT).
It’s not quick but it does deliver a comfortable and smooth ride. Like many Lexus models, the UX shines as a comfortable daily driver, not as a performance-oriented SUV that’ll get your blood pumping. But beware if you’re trying to pass at freeway speeds or when going uphill as you may wish for more oomph from the engine. With its 34-foot turning radius, you can turn the UX on a dime, making it easy to maneuver in busy city traffic and tight parking lots. Visibility is good to the front and sides but hampered to the rear.
Fuel efficiency is good for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 29 mpg city and 37 mpg highway with a combined rating of 33 mpg. I got 31 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
Most materials are upscale, as you’d expect in a Lexus. Most are soft-touch with differing textures to give a pleasant look and feel. My tester has two-texture seating with snazzy orange topstitching. Seats are comfortable with decent leg- and headroom in the front row. As you’d expect in a compact crossover, the backseat is a bit cramped for adults. Two average-sized adults, not three, will fit fairly comfortably with decent headroom but not a ton of legroom.
Standard features include leatherette upholstery, seven-inch display screen, the Lexus Remote Touch Interface, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and three USB ports. The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 also is also standard. It includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane trace assist, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beams, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection.
Available features include eight-way power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, front sport seats, head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, front and rear cross traffic alert, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 10.25-inch display screen, navigation, and an eight-speaker audio system.
Don’t get me started on the Lexus Remote Touch Interface. It’s one of the worst infotainment systems currently available. It’s not user-friendly and is very cumbersome to use. There are numerous menus and sub-menus, and the mouse-like control is so sensitive that it’s difficult and distracting to try to use while driving. Even doing simple tasks like adjusting the volume or changing the radio station is challenging. The volume and tuning controls have been moved from the center stack to the center console which is not intuitive. C’mon, Lexus, please revamp this system!
The UX has 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space with both rows of seating in place. However, the space can be tough to utilize because of the sloping roofline, small hatch opening and relatively high liftover height. Thankfully, the rear seats fold down.
Costs less than many rivals
Good fuel efficiency
Apple CarPlay is finally standard
Horrible infotainment system
Limited cargo space
Gas-powered models only available with front-wheel-drive
My tester starts at $34,000. Blind Spot Monitor is $500. Wireless charger is $75. Windshield de-icer is $100. Head Up Display is $500. Navigation system with 10.3-inch multimedia display, eight-speaker Lexus premium sound system, auto-dimming inner mirror with HomeLink, and power tilt/telescopic steering wheel are $2,200. Parking assist and rear cross traffic alert with braking are $565. Power rear door with kick sensor is $600. Premium paint is $595. F SPORT Premium Package with moonroof, rain sensing wipers and heated front seats is $975. Heated F SPORT steering wheel with paddle shifters is $150. Delivery fee is $1,025 bringing the grand total to $41,285.
With its relatively low starting price and good value for the money, Lexus hopes the new UX will attract young buyers who are purchasing their first Lexus and their first luxury vehicle. Buyers who might be interested in a BMW X1 or X2, Cadillac XT4, Mercedes GLA, Volvo XC40 or even the Buick Encore now have the UX to consider. The one big drawback is that twitchy infotainment system.