New Lexus UX is luxurious, stylish and very polished. But which drivetrain is best?
What is it?
The all-new Lexus UX. Lexus’ first entry into the new but rapidly expanding compact SUV market.
Lexus has aimed the UX primarily at young professionals and the young at heart, with funky styling, forward thinking ergonomics and a choice of petrol and hybrid drivetrains.
We sampled two versions of the UX back to back: the petrol UX200 and the petrol/electric UX250h, both in base Luxury trim level.
What’s it cost?
The UX range opens with the UX200 Luxury front wheel drive petrol which is priced from $44,450 and climbs to the hybrid UX250h Sports Luxury AWD which has a recommended retail price of $61,450 plus on roads.
The UX250h Luxury we sampled is priced from $47,950 plus government charges.
Specification wise, the two models we sampled were more or less identical. Standard equipment includes climate control, satellite navigation, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert seat heating, and a cool LED rear light bar.
What’s it go like?
Let’s start with the UX200. Power comes from a 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 126kW @ 6600rpm and 205Nm @ 4800rpm. That power is channeled to the front wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine is smooth and quiet enough, and performance is best described as relaxed. Granted it’s probably sufficient for most, especially those well to do customers who spend the majority of time in swish inner city suburbs.
Hit the open road, and while overall performance is fine, that CVT causes the engine to rev a little too hard under load and in general, we felt it detracted from the UX’s otherwise classy and premium feel.
The Lexus UX250h is powered by a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that develops 107kW @ 6000rpm and 188Nm @ 4400-5200rpm and works in conjunction with an electric motor and battery pack. As per the UX200, power is funneled to the wheels via CVT.
We felt that the UX250h was the pick of the two, it’s quieter and more refined, with the petrol engine shutting down at low speeds around town and while cruising on the highway. Performance seems to be more energetic than the UX200, too.
Ride quality is well dampened and luxurious. Very few road perfections make it through to the cabin and road noise is well suppressed. Handling is tidy and communicative, making the UX an ideal urban warrior.
What’s it like inside?
Beautifully made and with a very premium feel. Very Lexus. But with a twist. The dash is angled slightly toward the driver in a BMW-eque fashion, giving it an ensconcing and snug feel. Lexus has taken a unique approach to ergonomics, too. All the main controls for the infotainment system are discreetly nestled in the centre armrest, behind Lexus’ traditional trackpad and shortcut buttons.
In theory, the idea is quite clever: primary buttons fall naturally to hand and you seem to find everything you need intuitively. However, we found this to be more beneficial to the front seat passenger who can leave their arm of the well-padded armrest. The driver can make use of the steering wheel mounted buttons and voice control.
Now, we’ve harped on about this before, but the UX is another Lexus that does without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And given that the UX is aimed at young professionals that like to stay connected with technology, this could be a deal breaker.
The front seats are very comfortable and supportive, and head and legroom are more than accommodating. Up the back, the rear bench is softly padded and offers up good under thigh support. Head and legroom are on the snug side, and the back is probably best suited to two adults.
What we like:
- Clever design touches
- Relatively affordable entry price
What we don’t:
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Tight rear legroom
- Performance on petrol only really adequate
- Not a whole lot else
The Lexus UX is stylish, comfortable and does an exceptional job of making its occupants look and feel special. We reckon the UX250h is the pick of the drivetrains due to its more energetic performance and efficiency.