2021 Lexus UX 200 F Sport - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Wheezy, yet delightfully breezy!
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Just running the performance numbers on this luxury crossover might dissuade you from purchasing the UX 200. Combine a substantial curb weight of 3,570 pounds to an anemic 169hp motor and you have a lethargic power-to-weight ratio of 21.12 pounds per horsepower. That's a number that all but guarantees relegation to the slow lane. In fact, middling straight-line performance figures for this lavishly appointed compact SUV confirm its lack of thrust. The 0-60mph run takes a thumb twiddling 8.6 seconds, while the standing start quarter mile clocks in at 16.6 seconds and 86mph. Top speed is computer governed at 112mph.
However, don't let sheer speed play the determining role in your UX 200 purchase calculations. After all, there's a lot more to driving enjoyment than just the zero to 60 blast. In all the other avenues of fulfillment, like interior comfort, operational convenience, and especially, nimble handling, the diminutive UX 200 acquits itself in a most satisfactory manner.
Our strikingly painted Ultrasonic Blue Mica ($595 extra) Lexus F SPORT included a number of high performance modifications over a stock UX 200. Leading the F SPORT improvements were the heavily bolstered front sport seats. These plush thrones were upholstered in perforated leather that matched the finish of the plump F SPORT steering wheel and shift knob. Repetitive exterior badging never lets you forget you're driving an F SPORT Lexus. Model specific exterior styling enhancements included unique front and rear bumpers, LED fog lamps and cornering lamps, and aluminum roof rails. The dashboard also benefits from the F SPORT treatment, with what Lexus calls "performance inspired instrumentation with sliding bezel" that looks especially snazzy when you dial up the "Sport" setting from the available trio of Drive Mode choices which also include Normal and Eco. Our test Lexus upped the F SPORT ante with a $2,390 F SPORT Luxury Package that transformed the UX into more of a luxury bauble with heating and ventilation for both front seats, driver's seat memory, power actuated moonroof, rain sensing wipers and a power rear door with kick sensor activation.
But it's really what you can't see that makes the front-wheel-drive F SPORT UX 200 the determined corner carver that it is. The suspension system, recalibrated to the higher performance requirements of the F SPORT line, stiffen the ride notably, and feed cornering loads into F SPORT 18 inch split 5-spoke alloy rims shod with 225/50RF18 run-flat Bridgestone Turanza EL 440 radials (TW 400). F SPORT shift paddles enable you to run the 10 stage CVT transmission through a crescendo of simulated gear ranges to extract maximum grunt from the hard pressed four banger sitting sideways under the hood. If you slot the "Direct-Shift" CVT into its manual mode gate, the upshift and downshift paddles can be tapped like snare drums to maximize the engine's 169hp. If you need more pop, then opt for the F SPORT 250h hybrid, which bumps output to 181hp and adds all-wheel-drive to the mix. The base price of our test Lexus was $34,900. Moving up to the 250h F SPORT will add more than $3,000 to that total - a lot to pay for a bounce of 12hp and AWD.
Lexus finally seems to have addressed some of the shortcomings of their fussy command control touchpad by equipping the center console with a couple of knobs to select radio stations and volume. Aside from HVAC settings, the myriad of other functions still have to be accessed through the overly sensitive touch pad, which projects dozens of customization options onto a newly enlarged 10.3 inch center screen. Also new for the 2021 UX line is standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Both of these are notable additions, because rear vision is severely limited by the UX's high beltline and small rear window. The twin outboard headrests for the rear seat are intelligently designed to fold out of your field of vision when the back bench is unoccupied. A standard rear wiper also helps you see behind better.
Lexus touts the fact that the UX 200 has the sharpest turning radius of any compact SUV, with just a 17.1 foot circle needed to make a U-Turn. This endearing design feature endows the UX 200 with exceptionally responsive steering. Couple that maneuverability with the extra short 177 inch length of this smallest Lexus of all, and you have a recipe for driving fun that is all but absent in the company's more cumbersome SUVs. In fact, the F Sport edition of this butch looking crossover is kind of a performance sleeper, despite its less than stellar engine output. You can still have a lot of fun with this combo, while enjoying almost all the luxury touches the Lexus brand has conditioned you to expect.
2021 LEXUS UX 200 F SPORT
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 29MPG City/37MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $42,250
HYPES: City Smart and Backroad Buff
GRIPES: Wheezy Motor
STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10