Home / Auto / Lexus UX 2019 REVIEW – One of Toyota's best but not without flaws

Lexus UX 2019 REVIEW – One of Toyota's best but not without flaws


This is the third Lexus SUV, joining the line-up below the well-established mid-sized NX and larger RX models. It’s this small crossover segment that’s growing rapidly too as increasing numbers of people move out of traditional hatchbacks and estates and into these higher-riding models.

The UX is a curious bit of design work. Straight on at the front and rear it’s nice enough, as long as you can cope with the huge gaping Lexus grille at the front, and the rear has a nice line of 120 LED lights across the tailgate.

However, the side view will offend anyone that enjoys a sense of order to their lives. The front and rear door handles don’t line up, which is something that grates as soon as it’s pointed out, likewise the crease lines designed into the plastic front wheel arch cladding and the metalwork behind it don’t match.

Likewise those wheel arches themselves, which look bulky and cheap, are asymmetrical, rounded at the front and flat at the rear, which again looks awkward.

Then the view from rear-three-quarters highlights quite how many different lines, creases and surfaces there are. There’s a lot going on here.

The only engine choice is a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, described by Lexus as a “self-charging hybrid”. It’s a phrase disliked by the more evangelical of the electric vehicle community, but means that the car uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine backed-up by an electric motor, which the car recharges using the engine or energy recouped under deceleration, allowing the UX to run on battery alone for short periods.

It cuts emissions versus regular petrol or diesel engines, but doesn’t require plugging in. It also doesn’t have the cost or battery range issues of plug-in models.

The UX is front-wheel drive, but there is the £1250 option of another electric motor to drive the rear wheels. It won’t give Land Rover-esque mud-plugging abilities, but will help traverse a wet field.

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

The hybrid powertrain produces a combined 179bhp, which gives it a reasonable 8.5-second 0 to 60mph time, but the important thing is that it boasts emissions from just 94g/km, whereas the best its rivals can manage is the 120g/km of the BMW X1.

Which gives the UX a huge company car tax advantage, an area that Lexus is unsurprisingly targeting as a result.

Hybrids do tend to come out better on the emissions side of things than on the fuel economy official test, with the same BMW X1 offering 61.4mpg compared to 53.3mpg for this Lexus.

Basically, the hybrid powertrain produces less emissions, but diesels are a better bet for higher-mileage drivers focused upon fuel consumption.

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

The downside of hybrid vehicles has always been the actual driving experience; specifically, their performance and engine noise. There’s generally more of the latter than the former.

The new powertrain in the UX is better than previous incarnations, but the complaints are still there to a slightly lesser extent.

The problem is hard acceleration, or even just steady throttle when the engine is having to work, because you really hear about it.

The flip-side is that on light throttle around town when the car is running on electric power, the silent running has a calming and serene quality to it, while at higher cruising speeds refinement levels are good.

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

All the recognised Lexus characteristics are in place when it comes to the driving experience. It’s very comfortable, but an entertaining drive is a little way down the list of priorities, apart from the steering, which has an un-Lexus direct response and quality to it.

The car doesn’t feel like it enjoys being pushed through corners, the UX is very obvious about when it’s heading towards its limitations, and won’t catch out drivers trying to push it too hard.

The interior is very pleasant, with high-quality surfaces and a classy look and feel to it all, despite the raft of buttons.

It’s just a shame that Lexus persists with the awful infotainment system that uses a trackpad rather than touchscreen systems or rotary controls deployed by its rivals.

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

The system is fine at a standstill, but very hard to use safely on the move because of the amount of time the driver needs to take their eyes off the road for to perform basic functions. The screen is at least nicely tilted towards the driver.

Rear space is good for the class, although adults will have to duck under the curving roofline to access the back seats, but anyone requiring luggage space should look elsewhere now.

Thanks to the battery packaging, there is just 283 litres of boot space, plus another 37 litres under the boot floor if you don’t add the optional four-wheel drive system. For comparison, a BMW X1 is 505 litres and an Audi Q3 530.

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

There are three trim levels, all with impressive offerings of standard equipment – the top Takumi being a kitchen sink-style approach that costs £39,100, £5,200 more than the middling F Sport, with the entry UX trim at £29,900, all of which are very competitive versus the premium rivals.

Lexus expects the lowest model to be the most popular, with a high number of buyers adding the £2,200 premium pack which brings 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, parking sensors and heated seats and steering wheel.

The Lexus UX is up with the best cars the Toyota-owned brand has launched, maximizing its traditional qualities of very low comparative running costs, comfort, interior quality and the ability to run silently on battery alone for short periods, as well as the dealer network that has a reputation for excellent customer service.

The same flaws still apply though, specifically an engine and battery powerplant that is at odds with the rest of the car’s excellent refinement, a mediocre driving experience, the awkward design, a flawed infotainment system and, in the UX’s specific case, a really tiny boot.

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Lexus UX 2019

Lexus UX 2019 (Image: LEXUS)

Logbook Lowdown

Model: Lexus UX

Prices: £29,900-£39,100

Engine: Petrol-electric hybrid – 2.0-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph in 8.5 seconds, 110mph top speed

Average fuel economy: 53.3mpg

CO2 emissions range: 94-103g/km

Rivals: Audi Q3, BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40

Rating: 7/10



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