Lexus has filled their three SUV/crossover line with a subcompact that is stylish, economical and affordable. In fact, their new UX 200 is the least expensive Lexus model, making it the perfect choice for an entry level way to drive a premier luxury crossover.
The 2019 UX 200 is a five passenger crossover that’s offered in base, Luxury and F Sport, the latter of which was tested. It’s unquestionably a sexy looking crossover with concept car styling. Its sculpted, sharp, chiseled lines resemble its big brothers the RX and NX.
Now I must admit, my wife drives an RX 350 and loves it. I can unequivocally say it’s the best car we ever owned. We’ve never had a mechanical or noise issue in 10 years of ownership. It still rides and handles like it came off the dealer’s lot. Despite this, I promise to remain impartial in this review.
Upon a mere 17-inch step-in into the cockpit, you’re treated to luxury accommodations. Nicely supportive and perforated leather seats sported a two-color combination that complimented the Atomic Silver exterior paint. A 10.3-inch wide display uses a console mounted touchpad for app selection that includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Wi-Fi, Amazon Alexa, App Suite 2.0, and it displays rearview camera and audio functions. It also gives out maintenance alerts.
The touchpad is very touch sensitive and should not be used while driving as it requires eyes-off-the-road concentration.
What will also catch the eyes is a single, center-mounted gauge set with a digital speedometer that’s encircled by the tachometer and flanked by water/fuel gauges and on one side and a digital compass with current road names on the other.
Unique too is a console box wherein the double-hinged top opens from both sides. A nice convenience for driver and passenger.
Sprouting from the dash top are two rotary switches. On the right, the switch offers Sport, Normal and Eco modes. On the left, it allows turning off the traction control.
With Lexus’ Safety System 2.0, it adds safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, stolen vehicle locator and many more.
The back seat is rated for three but that pertains to youngsters and tweens. For adults, two are more appropriate as leg room is tight, especially if the fronts are racked well rearward. Headroom though is sufficient for all but six foot-plus folks.
With the 60/40 rear seatbacks upright, there’s 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space that more meaningfully measures 32.5 inches deep, 40.5 wide and 27 high. Flip them and cargo space expands to 21.7 cubic feet for 62 inches of cargo loading depth. And beneath the cargo floor is a two section hard foam tray with bins for small item storage. Beneath it is the spare tire.
UX 200 gets it grunt from 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder that generates 169-hp and 152 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 29 city, 37-highway mpg with a CVT automatic transmission (with paddle shifters) that uses a normal first gear before it converts over to CVT gearing. According to Lexus, the combination has been tested at 8.9 seconds for 0-60 mph.
There’s also a hybrid version (UX 250h) using the same 2.0L 4-cylinder but adds a pair of electric motor generators for a combined 181-hp. It has a reported 0-60 time of 8.6 seconds and mileage estimates of 41 city, 38-highway mpg.
Now it must be pointed out that the gasoline only powered UX comes with FWD, whereas the hybrid version can be had with AWD. The latter, unfortunately, is not available with the gasoline only model. That is the only demerit we can give the UX.
So tested, the the 2.0L has sufficient power and is a bit more responsive in Sport mode compared to Normal or Eco modes. There’s a linear application of power that allows safe merging onto high speed traffic lanes. What it gives up in performance, it makes up for in economy.
Handling wise, there’s virtually negligible lean in sharp turns taken at speed. UX parks easily thanks to its tight turning radius of 17.1 feet. It’s actually a hoot to drive as it can be tossed in the turns with complete confidence. Steering feel builds rapidly and is precise.
Shod with 18-inch Bridgestone tires, ride quality is good and only severely pock-marked roads and tall tar strips reverberate into the cabin. This can be attributed to the F Sport’s sport-tuned suspension. Likewise, road and tire noise are a bit noticeable at cruise speed.
Overall, the UX 200 is a formidable subcompact that carries Lexus’s fine craftsmanship and quality.