Lexus enters the compact crossover fray with the 2019 UX, a plucky urban driver with a roomier than you’d expect interior and excellent fuel economy. The UX 200 is rated at 29 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. And how does 41 mpg in the city grab you for the UX 250h, which is the hybrid version?
The 2019 UX is a highly styled vehicle that will be an entry level choice at Lexus. The UX design is cut and edgy and aggressive, with lots of corners to go with the signature spindle Lexus grille. The regular UX 200 starts at $32,000, while my test car for the week, the UX 250h, starts at $34,000. AWD adds $2-grand to the bottom line, but if you ask me it’s worth it.
The UX is designed as a front-drive urban explorer with a CVT transmission. The gasoline UX gets a 2.0-liter Inline 4-cylinder engine that develops 169 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. The regular UX has a top speed of 118 miles per hour and a 0-60 mph time of 8.9 seconds
The hybrid version is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that combines with electric motors to produce 181 total horsepower. Two motors power four wheels, and the battery pack is nickel-metal hydride. The hybrid is quicker than the regular UX – 8.6 seconds from 0-60 mph – but has a lower top speed of 110 mph. Both cars will look good at red lights, but neither will win off the line. This car looks faster than it is.
The strong suit for the UX, I think, is inside the cabin. It’s not what you’d call world class, but it’s comfortable and cozy and it has more room inside than its competitors.
At 6-foot-1, I don’t normally fit well into a “compact” anything. But the UX 250h test car had plenty of room for me in the front and back seats. Officially, headroom in front is 37.3 inches and in Row 2 it’s just one inch shorter. Front seats are heated and adjust eight ways.
The rear deck in the hybrid is very high, making loading things easier. Cargo space is 17.1 cubic feet, which is pretty good for a compact CUV. The UX 200 has more than four more feet of cargo space than the hybrid. Door and cargo openings are not wide, so being inside is easier than getting inside.
The UX hybrid is a solid little crossover contender, weighing in at a muscular 3,605 pounds. Both UX models run on regular unleaded. The gas tank on the hybrid is 10.6 gallons, and on the regular UX it’s 12.4 gallons so both have a highway range between 435-450 miles.
The UX can be outfitted with the Lexus F Sport package which adds 18-inch wheels and all manner of sporty accents and details. F Sport models also get heavily bolstered and thick front seats that keep you snugly in place.
Systems in the UX are governed by a combination of buttons, dials and a flat panel that works like the mousepad on your laptop. I’m a desktop guy, so I don’t like sliding my finger across a pad. But if you’re into your laptop you’ll have no trouble. The infotainment system is displayed on a very wide (10.3 inches) screen atop the center stack.
Qi wireless smartphone charging is at the bottom of the stack, along with a 12v port. If you want a USB, though, you’ll have to look in the console box, where there are two, plus an AUX jack. Two more USBs are in Row 2, so everyone has a place to charge.
On the road, the UX is comfortable with a smooth ride for a small crossover. Steering is linear and precise. Driver selectable modes include Sport, Normal and ECO.
The government has not yet smashed the UX into steel barriers, but the insurance industry has. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety likes the 2019 UX, calling it a “Top Safety Pick” after giving it the highest score of “good” in every category except headlights.
The UX has 10 airbags and a wealth of safety technologies like automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport AWD
Engine: 2.0-liter Hybrid 4-cylinder with electric motors
Horsepower/Torque: 181 combined
Transmission: Continuously variable
Price: $36,000 ($42,785 w/options & freight)
EPA Mileage Estimates: 41 mpg city/38 mpg highway/39 mpg combined
Estimated Highway Range: 435 miles