In its introduction of the 2019 UX luxury compact SUV, Lexus emphasizes that this all-new car was created for city-dwellers. The U stands for urban and the X stands for crossover.
Here’s a paragraph taken directly from the Lexus press release for the UX marketing campaign: “The campaign embodies the notion that cities are the new frontier of American culture – a canvas for experimentation and creativity in all corners, from new ideas in fashion, food and architecture to artistic expression. It’s a place where pioneering people and ideas create the inventive and visionary; where exploration of the city is an exploration of oneself.”
Not much of a compliment to those of us languishing in the rural areas of Snohomish and Island counties, but let’s not take it personally. It’s marketing.
The Lexus UX is on the smaller side of the compact category, more like a subcompact. There is seating for five, but by definition rear-seat passengers are traveling economy class.
There are two versions of the UX: the gasoline-powered UX 200 with front-wheel drive, and the hybrid UX 250h with all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $33,025 for the UX 200, and $35,025 for the UX 250h. These figures include a $1,025 destination charge. A note about the hybrid’s AWD system: It operates only at speeds up to 43 mph.
My tester for this review was a UX 200 with a considerable amount ($6,260) of optional features, including a navigation system with 10-inch multimedia display, a premium audio system, assorted driver assistance systems, a power liftgate, and an F Sport premium package. Grand total for the car, the options, and the destination charge was $41,285.
The F Sport package includes sportier suspension tuning and a slew of sport appearance features. It also allows for active sound control, which provides sound effects mimicking the upshifts and downshifts of a geared automatic transmission for the UX’s continuously variable transmission (CVT).
A 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine powers the UX 200. It takes regular unleaded gasoline and has attractive fuel economy ratings: 29 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined.
The UX exterior styling, especially when dressed with the F Sport package, is trendy and athletic, ideal for the young urban sophisticates this car is intended for. Inside, it’s the same picture. Even the most sophisticated among them, however, will probably take issue with the anti-intuitive infotainment system, most notably the Remote Touch controller in the center console.
During the test week, I drove the UX on freeways and highways, on sublime Snohomish County winding backroads, and in city settings. It has a quiet and comfortable ride on freeways and highways but lacks punch (0 to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds). It takes the backroads OK but with little enthusiasm. For its intended purpose as a luxury urban vehicle, the UX shines because of its great maneuverability and fuel economy, and the Lexus brand’s excellent quality and cachet.
2019 LEXUS UX 200
Base price, including destination charge: $35,025
Price as driven: $41,285
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.