A Green-vehicle review for car shoppers concerned with fuel economy, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and CO2 emission.
By Larry Nutson
Executive Producer and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
As I settled in behind the steering wheel and adjusted the seat position for my first drive in the Lexus UX I was immediately impressed by how low the seat would adjust. I was expecting the typical crossover SUV setup that has you sitting up tall. My reaction was that this feels just like a car.
The UX is an all-new compact crossover from Lexus for 2019. In reality it’s a 4-door, 5-passenger, hatchback with a very car-like interior, stylish and distinctive if not polarizing exterior design, with a higher ride height and a bit more ground clearance than a hatchback sedan.
It makes me ask: Is this the new definition of a car?
We are re-urbanizing across America…both young and old alike, with cities becoming more crowded, and with people more active than ever engaging in every sort of leisure experience. Is the subcompact or compact crossover the new definition of the American family car?
The UX comes in two models. The UX 200 is front-wheel drive with a 169-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed direct shift CVT automatic transmission. The UX 250h is all-wheel drive with the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to a CVT and two separate, dedicated electric motor-generators producing 181-total system horsepower.
The UX 250h’s all-wheel drive system uses a separate, dedicated electric motor-generator integrated into the rear differential. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is automatically optimized by the stability control system when accelerating, cornering, or driving on slippery surfaces.
An F Sport package is available on both models that provides a more sporty suspension and unique 18-inch wheels, grille, front and rear fascias, sport seats, leather trimmed steering wheel and shifter, plus some additional trim items.
The UX 200 is priced at $32,000 and the UX 250h is only $2,000 more, at $34,000.
For my test drive I was driving a Cadmium Orange UX 200 F Sport also optionally fitted with blind spot monitor, wireless charger, windshield deicer, head-up display, navigation system, parking assist, rear cross traffic alert with braking, power rear hatch, heated steering wheel, and moonroof bringing the bottom line to $41,285 including the $1,025 delivery fee.
Standard advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features include forward collision warning with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane-keep warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, road-sign assist, and automatic high-beam headlamps. As you would expect the hybrid UX 250h has lower fuel consumption than the UX 200. What you might not expect is that the hybrid is, according to Lexus, quicker to 60 mph….8.6 seconds v. 8.9 seconds for the UX 200. We will be seeing more and more hybrids coming to market that offer higher performance than a typical gasoline-only powered vehicle.
EPA fuel economy ratings are 33 mpg combined with 29 city mpg and 37 highway mpg for the UX 200. The UX 250h is EPA rated at 39 mpg combined with 41 city mpg and 38 highway mpg. For sprinting around the city, using less gas, the hybrid is the way to go. And, with its nominal $2,000 additional cost, that might just be a no-brainer decision.
I think the UX will fit in quite well with an urban family wanting a luxury vehicle with good overall performance, low fuel consumption, versatility and stylish looks. Urban families, whether they have no children, young children, or teens will find the UX can work well for them to meet their transportation needs.
The exterior design is striking, attention getting, not too radical, but perhaps not for everyone. I personally wouldn’t buy the unique-to-the-UX Cadmium Orange. I’m more the black or silver type. The UX is offered in a choice of 12 colors.
I prefer light colored interiors. Standard models offer a choice of four colors, including Black, Glazed Caramel, Birch, and Birch with Lapis. In addition to Black, the F SPORT also offers exclusive Circuit Red seat colors.
Perhaps a UX 250h F Sport in Nebula Grey Pearl with Circuit Red interior is for me?
The interior is nicely finished with high quality materials. A common Lexus complaint is the touchpad interface for the dashboard display. Along with steering wheel controls, the UX does have a new and improved control on the console for the audio system functions…making things easier for the front passenger. The power seat and power steering column are great for finding that perfect driving position. Apple CarPlay brings in my favorite tunes to the 8-speaker sound system.
More information and detail on the 2019 Lexus UX can be found at www.lexus.com. Full specs can be found HERE
Not only did I drive the UX 200 around my Chicago home, but I drove both models at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This more rural location provided a great opportunity to experience the overall driving dynamics on the country roads of the area.
No doubt the UX is designed for the younger buyer wanting a premium driving experience. But, the UX will work just as well for urban dwellers of varying ages to meet their driving needs. It’ll keep you young in attitude.
On a final note, as I wrapped up this write-up this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans had just concluded with a pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids finishing first and second. The team repeated its 1-2 finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a year ago. Yes, performance hybrids are in our future.
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© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy