While most luxury automakers have released subcompact SUVs in the past few years, we hadn’t seen one from Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand. That will change later in 2018 with the release of the 2019 Lexus UX, an all-new model that shoots for the urban (U) crossover (X) buyer.
Though Toyota has a version on the market through its mainstream brand, there are several unique twists that make this crossover a Lexus (including a hybrid version). Here’s everything you need to know about the Lexus UX as the automaker preps its release for later this year.
1. The most affordable Lexus
As with most Lexus models, this addition to the lineup takes the platform of a Toyota (the C-HR) and shifts it up-market. The automaker said it is targeting a buyer who’s new to the Lexus brand and the luxury market as a whole. Since it slots in below the NX crossover, that sounds reasonable.
Practically speaking, it replaces the unpopular CT 200h and starts at $33,025 (including destination charges). The base model (200 UX) will run on a 2.0-liter engine (169 horsepower) and 10-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT). 200 models come with front-wheel drive only.
2. UX 250 hybrid
Maybe the biggest news with this Lexus debut is the hybrid model, which goes by UX 250h. It will use the same 2.0-liter gas engine and add two electric motors, bumping the total output to 175 horsepower. Lexus said it reduced the amount of friction found in earlier hybrids, and this one will keep the electric motors going up to 71 mph.
Lexus is debuting a system called Predictive Eco Drive Control on this model. Working with navigation, it will learn the owner’s driving habits, factor in traffic reports, and otherwise work toward optimizing efficiency as you drive.
Meanwhile, this model will be the only UX offering all-wheel drive. That will come as a $2,000 option. All things considered, Lexus managed to keep the hybrid premium low with a starting price of $35,025 ($37,025 with all-wheel drive).
3. Standard safety tech, interior options
As vehicles get safer across the industry — and it gets harder to land a Top Safety Pick+ award — Lexus is delivering a great deal of advanced crash-prevention tech standard.
Every UX will get pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, lane-departure alert (with steering assist), road-sign assist (to monitor changing speed limits), and intelligent high beams. The available Parking Support Alert and Brake feature cameras and auditory sensors that spot danger and stop the car.
With its eye on a younger buyer, Lexus made the UX as tech-heavy as any model in its lineup. It starts with a standard 7-inch multimedia display, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker premium sound system, and multiple USB ports. An available 10-inch display with navigation and head-up display (HUD) add convenience and safety.
Finally, every UX will come ready to listen to Google Assist, Alexa, or other smart device so you can lock and start the car remotely.
4. F Sport performance models
UX buyers will also get the option of the F Sport package in both the 200 and 250h. As in other Lexus models, a specially tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels improve the handling and responsiveness of the ride.
An F Sport grille, front bumper with large LED lamps, and a revised rear bumper add to the different look in this model. Inside the cabin, you’ll find an instrument panel inspired by the LFA, sport seats, a leather-trimmed wheel with paddle shifters, and aluminum finish on the pedals, footrest, and door scuff plate.
5. Fuel economy, release dates
Both versions of the UX will come with Drive Select, allowing drivers to opt for normal, ECO, or Sport mode. ECO settings will help buyers get the best economy, and in this model the projected numbers are impressive. While EPA estimates have not come in yet, Lexus is targeting 33 mpg combined in the base model and 38 mpg in the hybrid.
The UX 200 will begin arriving in dealerships by December. In January 2019, the hybrid will follow. Pricing on the F Sport package has not been released.