Lexus UX: just a couple of things


What is it?

Lexus has added a “baby” to its ever-growing SUV family, with the UX or Urban Crossover.

There are three UX models models to choose from — Luxury, Sports Luxury and F Sport.

Power comes from a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine, along with a hybrid two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive setups, the latter with an extra engine for the rear wheels.

Petrol and two-wheel drive hybrid versions come in Luxury, Sports Luxury and F Sport guise, while the all-wheel drive hybrid is available only with the Sports Luxury and F Sport packages.

UX is based on a new platform called the Lexus Global Architecture C platform which also underpins Toyota’s Corolla hybrid and C-HR models.


What’s it cost?

It’s a bit of a minefield.

There are eight different prices to consider, ranging from $44,450 to $61,450.

Then there are options depending on spec level is chosen. Metallic paint is $1500 and includes Khaki Metal, White Nova, Titanium, and Celestial Blue.

Petrol UX200 Luxury, Sports Luxury, and F Sports are priced at $44,450, $53,000, and $53,450.

Hybrid 2WD 250h Luxury, Sports Luxury, and F Sport are $47,950, $56,500 and $56,950.

Hybrid AWD 250h Sports Luxury, and F Sport are $61,000 and $61,450.

The Luxury level has two enhancements packs. EP1 is $1550 and includes a power tail gate with kick activation, wireless smartphone charge pad, front cornering lamps, rear window privacy glass, and headlight washers. EP2 is $4050 and adds a full glass roof.

The F Sport Enhancement Pack is $2500 and that’s the glass roof. Pack 2 is $5600 and adds 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio for the DAB/DVD head unit, Heads Up Display, panoramic view monitor, and smart keycard.

Sports Luxury has one option pack that’s $3500 and adds a moonroof, heads up, and smart cards.

Different seat and trim materials are also available depending on which trim level is chosen.

The Luxury with F-Sport as tested came with Sport White leather and black trim.

The hybrid tested was also the F Sport, and this came with Flare Red leather and a classier look and feel to the plastics and dash black trim.

Seats in both were vented and heated.

The driver’s seat is powered and comes with memory. It’s an automatically operated system, with the seat sliding back when the door is opened on switch-off, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room in the back seat.

The good news is that it does slide forward again and this provides a better view of the rear legroom situation. It’s good for people of late primary school to high school age, but otherwise it’s a tight fit.

The cargo space is shallow and varies between 327 and 371 litres depending on trim level, because Luxury has a space saver spare, but the others have a puncture kit.

One wonders if the target market is young couples, with one or two babies as there are two ISOFIX mounts, but rear room isn’t adult oriented.

Overall length is 4495mm and the wheelbase is 2640mm, which makes it sound bigger than it is, but the rear packaging doesn’t live up to the promise — overall, it sit’s in the lower end of the mid-size range.

The T-bar style gear selector sits ahead of a centre console mounted trackpad to access info on the dash screen, with a set of shortcut buttons to access radio, menu, and volume.

The driver’s display in the sliding main dial delivers different looks for the various sorts of info available. Using the drive mode dial on the upper left of the binnacle, brings in Sports and Sports+ looks.

There’s no wanting for safety either, with every possible safety feature such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist collision avoidance, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic, and others on board.


What’s it go like?

Power for the 2.0-litre engine is rated 126kW, with peak torque of 205Nm.

The hybrid produces a combined 131kW/188Nm, with the battery powered, electric motor good for 80kW/202Nm alone.

Economy is good regardless, at 5.8L/100km for the non-hybrid, and 4.5L to 4.7L/100km for the 2WD and AWD.

The non-hybrid comes with the D-CVT transmission. The D bit is for the direct drive first gear, first seen in the revamped Corolla hybrid, and it’s designed to provide a quicker response from standstill.

The hybrids have the “normal” CVT, and both get away very nicely, thank you very much.

If anything, the hybrid feels punchier off the line, and throughout the drive range. It’s just more . . .  driveable. Acceleration feels better, more responsive, more engaging throughout.

In no way however does the non-hybrid lack in any great way. It’s not as responsive but not by much, as both systems are well sorted.

The non-hybrid F Sport felt softer in the rear than the hybrid F Sport.

That’s odd as the F Sport has a different suspension system to Luxury and Sports Luxury, with a MacPherson strut front and trailing wishbone rear.

Also, both cars had a rear end lateral skip on the same section of road. Think of it as bump steer for the rear.

The electric steering has a lovely ratio set, with a turning circle of 10.4 metres and at low speeds winds up quicker as the wheel goes further left or right.

At speed it’s slightly twitchy. Brakes are, naturally, more responsive in the hybrid too, with the energy recovery system doing its best to haul in kinetic energy — F1 style.

Ride quality is very good, with the Luxury rolling on 17 inch diameter alloys. Sports Luxury and F Sport have 18s, with Dunlop supplying the rubber.

Both hang on well enough when pushed, especially with the smoother and newer tarmac roads.


What we like?

  • Edgy design isn’t unpleasant
  • Hybrid drivetrain is a real goer
  • Cabin design looks good


What we don’t like?

  • Occasional rear end lateral instability
  • Compromised boot space
  • Rear legroom could be an issue


The bottom line?

The pricing structure is curious, especially with the F Sport just a few hundred dollars more than Sports Luxury.

Take the Luxury and add the enhancement packs, and they still come in under the Sports Luxury. But there is no doubting the ability of the UX as an everyday car, for a single or couple.

The hybrid fangs along well enough, and the economy on the non-hybrid isn’t a sneeze worthy issue either.

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Lexus UX, priced from $44,450
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 9/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 8.5/10
  • Value - 8.5/10

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