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, which I tested, is especially desirable among that demographic.
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.
The 2019 Lexus UX 200 F Sport is the most distinctive model in the range. While the standard version has distinctive styling all its own, the F Sport 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 all-season tires for more more-responsive handling and extra agility.
Comfort and Convenience
The 2019 Lexus UX 200 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 7.0-inch color multi-information display in the gauge cluster.
You also get a backup camera, a multimedia system with a 7.0-inch color display, Apple CarPlay compatibility and a 6-speaker premium sound system. However, the frustrating console touch pad was distracting to use.
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. 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 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.
The standard 2019 Lexus UX has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. It provides lively in-town moves and does the mid-range acceleration test with relative ease. Although, it’s a bit noisy when pushed hard. The engine works with a smooth CVT, which has efficient paddle shifters in the F Sport version.
The F Sport has no extra horsepower, not that it really needs more for urban driving. Estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on highways. My test car’s ride was supple, although sharp bumps could be felt.
As with each other model, the 2019 Lexus UX 200 F Sport uses Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. That system includes 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.
My test Lexus UX 200 F Sport proved to be a classy, handy compact luxury crossover and a worthy rival to its competitors. Tempting options included a blind spot monitor, wireless charger, head-up display navigation system with a 10.3-inch color multimedia display, and a 8-speaker Lexus premium sound system. But it doesn’t stop there. Getting a tilt/telescopic steering wheel is also an option, as is parking assist with rear cross-traffic alert, a power liftgate, 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 from $34,000 to $40,260, without the $1,025 delivery charge.