The 2021 Lexus UX Offers Something None of Its Rivals Can

Lexus is synonymous with luxury vehicles. And most people envision spacious accommodations when they think of luxury. But the 2021 Lexus UX is small. In fact, it’s the smallest new car Lexus offers. But the Lexus UX has many of the amenities car buyers have come to expect from the automaker, as well as one feature that no other subcompact luxury SUV can match.

The small but sharp 2021 Lexus UX

The Lexus UX (which stands for “urban explorer”) looks like a tall hatchback but handles like a sporty SUV. Powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four engine, the UX 200 produces 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. According to Consumer Reports, the base model comes with all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission. It can also accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.

The UX250h — a hybrid version — shaves 0.6 seconds off this time. It packs the same engine alongside electric motors, which combined produce 181 hp. It comes AWD-only. There’s also an all-electric UX300e that comes with a 53-kWh battery. It can run about 260 miles on a single charge. However, this version isn’t available stateside right now.

The Lexus UX 200 and 250h both received 5-out-of-5-star overall safety ratings from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. And the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety named each a Top Safety Pick. In addition to boasting solid body design, the UX comes standard with many advanced safety features. They include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, departure prevention, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Inside the Lexus UX

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As you might expect, the Lexus UX is rich with goodies, especially at the higher trim levels. The base model features an infotainment system with a seven-inch screen; Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay integration; six speakers; and a seven-inch gauge cluster display. Attractive interior trim, push-button start, leatherette upholstery, and heated side mirrors round out the base model.

There’s also the Lexus UF Sport. It adds performance-tuned suspension, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-inch infotainment screen, a power liftgate, and sport seats in the front.

The Lexus UX Luxury trim throws in a power moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats, and noise-reducing windows. It also comes with a foot-activated power liftgate.

However, despite the amenities, you’ll likely feel a bit cramped. After all, it’s a small vehicle with less overall legroom and headroom than rivals Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1. The second row is noticeably tight, especially compared to the front row, where the driver and passenger have considerably more legroom. There’s also only 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space in the back. The UX 250h has even less, with 17.1 cubic feet behind the second row.

But this luxury SUV boasts something others don’t

You might be wondering why it makes sense to shell out $32,900 or more for a small crossover, even if it is a Lexus. But the UX provides plenty of value in terms of ownership costs, which isn’t especially common among luxury vehicles.

The UX delivers a segment-beating fuel economy of 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. These numbers outstrip other subcompact SUVs such as the Toyota C-HR, which gets only 27/31 mpg city/highway, and Subaru Crosstrek, getting 27/33 mpg city/highway. And the hybrid version provides even better fuel economy. The Lexus UX250h is rated at a whopping 41/38 mpg city/highway. That’s unheard-of for a gas-powered SUV and will save you considerably in fuel costs over the long-term. 

Sure, you can’t haul a lot in a Lexus UX. But if you do a lot of daily driving, this little SUV is a solid pick.