2019 Lexus UX

By KBB.com

The all-new 2019 Lexus UX is the luxury brand’s smallest and most affordable vehicle. The de facto replacement for the Lexus CT, the new UX swaps that entry-level luxury car’s hatchback design for that of a compact-crossover SUV. The 2019 UX is available in two forms: the UX 200 that is powered by a 169-horsepower engine that is front-wheel drive (FWD) only, or the UX 250h hybrid, which pairs the engine with an electric motor. In addition to offering a bit more power, the UX hybrid comes with all-wheel drive (AWD). Neither model has the spry acceleration of rivals like the Volvo XC40 or BMW X1, but the Lexus does stand out with its comfortable manners and penchant for high reliability and resale value.

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Starting at $32,000, the 2019 UX is the least expensive way to get into a new Lexus luxury vehicle. It also touts stylish looks, a comfortable ride, easy driving manners and high fuel efficiency. The more recommendable hybrid model comes standard with all-wheel drive.

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The 2019 Lexus UX trails rivals in power, acceleration and athleticism, and cargo space. AWD is offered on the hybrid model, and it’s limited -- at speeds over 43 mph, it sends power only to the front wheels.

What's New for 2019

The 2019 Lexus UX is a brand-new crossover SUV that slots under the Lexus NX. It is offered as the UX 200 with a standard 4-cylinder gasoline engine and front-wheel drive, or as the UX 250h, a hybrid that has all-wheel drive standard. Starting at $32,000, it is Lexus’ least expensive vehicle.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

If taken as a de facto replacement for the Lexus CT, the new Lexus UX is a breath of fresh air. Its subcompact-crossover-SUV design grants a higher seating position and better forward visibility, while its design is truly handsome, whereas the outgoing CT was, well, something. After driving the UX 200 and UX 250h back-to-back, we prefer the hybrid UX 250h. It has a bit more power -- 181 total horsepower vs. the UX 200’s 169 -- and has the benefit of powering the rear wheels in addition to the front, at least until 43 mph. After that, the electric motors that power the rear wheels shut off, leaving only the front wheels powered by the gasoline engine. Lexus says it’s in the name of efficiency, but we still find it a bit odd. Neither of these models will win many races nor get you very far off-road. But that’s not the point of the UX. Where Lexus’ smallest SUV excels is tooling around the city, which it does, comfortably. The UX is touted as an “urban explorer,” thanks to a diminutive size that allows easy maneuvers and the ability to fit into tight parking spaces. An extremely tight turning radius is another bonus. The cherry on the cake is the UX’s comfort. In Lexus fashion, the 2019 UX crossover SUV is appealing for its cushiness that begins with a compliant suspension and extends to wonderfully supple seats.

Favorite Features

LEXUS UX 250H HYBRID

We think opting for the hybrid UX model is an easy choice. For just $2,000 more it grants all-wheel drive as standard, more power, and better fuel efficiency. The standard UX 200 is no slouch with 33-mpg combined, but the UX 250h betters that figure at 39-mpg combined.

LEXUS SAFETY SYSTEM+ 2.0

All models of Lexus’ new UX SUV come with a robust suite of active driver-assistance and safety systems. Included are an automatic emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians in front of the car, radar cruise control, lane-departure warning with steering assist, and a system that reads road signs.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The Lexus UX has two rows of seating and room for five. Fitting three people in back will take some wedging, however, and realistically, even two adults can feel cramped in back. Legroom is stingy at only 33.1 inches. This is a subcompact, after all. Cargo area, too, is paltry compared to rivals like the Volvo XC40. The UX 200 only has room for 21.7 cubic feet of your gear. The story is worse in the hybrid. Due to its battery pack, the UX 250h has only 17.1 cubic feet, enough for a couple of suitcases and not much else. Things are better up front. We found the front seats comfortable and supportive. The cockpit is highly angled toward the driver, and features switches to control climate functions. The UX has Lexus’ familiar touch pad to control the infotainment system, but it is improved with small dials near the armrest to control audio functions like volume and track selection.

Exterior

As with its larger brothers, the Lexus NX and Lexus RX, the baby Lexus UX is highly styled with sweeping curves, flowing lines, and of course that gaping grille. In back, the taillights stretch across the vehicle, creating a wide and handsome effect. There’s a lot going on for sure, but it’s handsome for the most part, especially in person. Except for some exterior badging, you’ll be hard-pressed to distinguish the UX 200 from the hybrid UX 250h, a good thing if you don’t want to shout your efficiency credentials. Some of the color options really pop, such as Redline and Cadmium Orange. Sizable 18-inch wheels are standard across the board.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2019 Lexus UX comes in three major trims: base, Luxury and F-Sport. Even a base model is nicely equipped, with faux-leather interior, the Lexus Safety System 2.0+ (see Favorite Features), dual-zone climate control, 8-way-power front seats, LED headlights, and drive-mode selection with Sport, Normal and Eco settings. On the infotainment front, the Lexus UX comes with a 7-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility (no Android Auto at this time), four USB ports, and Wi-Fi with a 4-gig/1-year trial. The Premium package for $1,175 is a good value that adds a moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats with memory feature, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Notable Optional Equipment

Top-line UX Luxury models bring features like blind-spot monitoring, power rear tailgate with hands-free operation, acoustic front glass for a quieter cabin, plus all the features in the Premium package. F-Sport variants won’t grant any extra power, but do bring 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, bolstered front seats, paddle shifters, and a larger 8-inch display. Also in the offering are an even larger 10.3-inch screen with navigation (standard on Luxury trim), 8-speaker premium audio system, head-up display, auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage remote, wireless phone charger, and heated steering wheel.

Under the Hood

Two powertrains are available on the UX. The UX 200 uses a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 169 horsepower and is front-wheel-drive only. The UX 250h hybrid pairs its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor that powers the rear wheels at speeds up to 43 mph. Its total horsepower is a bit more, at 181. Both models use a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but the standard model’s is special. Like the Toyota Corolla hatchback that shares a similar powertrain, the Lexus UX 200 has a traditional first gear before it essentially switches to the CVT. This negates the dreaded rubber-band feel of other CVTs. Whichever UX you choose, know that neither version is all that fast. The UX 200 takes a rather laggardly 8.9 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph. The UX 250h is a bit quicker, doing 0-60 mph in an estimated 8.6 seconds. What the UX surrenders to competitors in acceleration, it takes back in efficiency. The UX 200 is estimated to earn up to 37 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined, while the hybrid UX 250h is pegged at 41 mpg in city and 39 mpg combined. 

2.0-liter inline-4 (UX 200)
169 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy, est.: 29/37 mpg 

2.0-liter inline-4 + 24-kW battery (UX 250h)
181 total horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy, est.: 41/38 mpg 

Pricing Notes

The 2019 Lexus UX 200 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $32,000, plus a $1,025 destination fee. F-Sport variants begin at $34,000, and Luxury trims start just over $37,000. Hybrid UX 250h variants are an additional $2,000, which means a fully loaded 2019 Lexus UX can reach around $40,000.

At these prices, the new Lexus UX undercuts competitors like the Volvo XC40, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Jaguar E-Pace. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new compact-luxury SUV. The Lexus UX’s resale value also impresses, this new sport-ute winning an award in the KBB 2019 Best Resale Value Awards.

 

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