Lexus UX Crossover Debut Is an Instant Hit

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Lexus UX200

Lexus UX redefined the crossover as a cool urban exploration vehicle. 

Lexus made a big splash at the recent 2018 New York International Auto Show with the North American debut of the all-new UX compact luxury crossover. The Lexus UX introduced us to a bold new design, ultra-efficient new powertrains, and innovative luxury features. But people were talking about how the UX impressed as a luxury crossover that fits in well in an urban setting, which has been no easy feat for the SUV marketplace.

“The first-ever Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary, and dynamic take on luxury driving,” said Chika Kako, executive vice president of Lexus International and chief engineer of the UX. “We designed the UX to appeal to buyers in their 30s who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.”

The 2019 Lexus UX will be available in two powertrains: The front-wheel drive UX 200 introduces a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine coupled with a new Direct-Shift continuously variable transmission (CVT) while the UX 250h pairs an Atikinson Cycle version of the same 2.0-liter gas engine with a new fourth generation hybrid drive system and eAWD.

Daring Design Meets Urban Versatility

The UX makes a bold statement in a segment characterized by conventional SUV themes. The striking design, notable for its crisp, prominent sculpting and dramatically flared front and rear fenders, surrounds a cabin that provides a driver-focused cockpit and a roomy, relaxing space for passengers.

A 103.9-in. wheelbase contributes to a smooth, stable ride and ample passenger space, while the compact 177-inch overall length and best-in-class 17.1 ft. turning radius lets the Lexus UX easily maneuver into convenient “compact only” parking spaces.


‘The first-ever Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary, and dynamic take on luxury driving.’


At the rear, an elegantly simple styling treatment contrasts sharply with the flared fenders to emphasize the UX’s dynamic and strong crossover qualities. Full-width taillights project a distinctive nighttime signature formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs and tapering to 3 millimeters at its thinnest toward the center.

A Solid Basis for Efficient Performance

Compact and infused with dynamic attitude, the 2019 Lexus UX is engineered to deliver “elegant performance” thanks to the first use of the brand’s GA-C (Global Architecture – Compact) platform. The super-rigid structure and low center of gravity help the UX deliver both precise handling and exemplary ride comfort.

The MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone-type rear suspension system are specially tuned for a combination of urban agility and comfort over well-worn streets. Even the smallest of details like the quality of the damper oil, oil seals and friction control in the shock absorbers were tested and retested to assure the optimum ride quality. The electric power steering system features a new compact and highly rigid column assist that helps deliver crisp, immediate response to driver inputs and a precise steering feel.

UX 200: High Efficiency Engine and New Direct Shift CVT

Engaging performance and high fuel efficiency are the calling cards of the new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine in the UX 200. Delivering up to 168 horsepower to the front wheels, the all-new engine utilizes advanced technologies like multi-hole direct fuel injectors, a continuously variable capacity oil pump and VVT-iE intelligent variable valve-timing on the intake side to achieve maximum thermal efficiency of nearly 40 percent – an exceptional number for a passenger vehicle engine.

A new Direct Shift-CVT also debuts in the UX 200. It combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a conventional continuously variable transmission with the more direct feel of a traditional gear-driven automatic. A conventional CVT uses two variable pulleys, connected by a belt, to change the effective gear ratio. The Lexus Direct Shift-CVT adds a traditional gearset for starting from a stop, giving the UX quicker, more linear acceleration off the line. Because the gears reduce the need for the CVT’s pulleys and belt mechanism to be used in the low range, more of the CVT’s ratio spread can be dedicated to the higher range which helps the UX 200 deliver an estimate 33 mpg in combined driving. Paddle shifters are added on F SPORT models.

UX 250h: The Latest Generation of Hybrid Technology

Lexus introduced the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle 15 years ago, and the brand remains the luxury hybrid leader. The 2019 UX 250h underscores that position with a new-generation hybrid powertrain that delivers engaging performance and exemplary fuel efficiency.

The UX 250h combines an Atkinson Cycle version of the 2.0-liter gas engine found in the UX 200 with a hybrid system for a projected output of 176 total system horsepower, and estimated 38 combined MPG. Engine speed is synchronized with vehicle speed to create an immediate and continuous acceleration feel.

All Wheel Drive for All Situations

The UX 250h model in the U.S. will feature eAWD which adds an electric motor to the rear axle. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is automatically optimized when accelerating, cornering, or driving on slippery surfaces. Capable of not only adjusting the power split when the front wheels lose grip, eAWD is sophisticated enough to improve stability by introducing drag or adding power to help correct an over- or understeer situation.

Lexus UX200

Predictive Efficient Drive

The UX 250h is the first Lexus to offer Predictive Efficient Drive, a system that analyzes driving habits along with road and traffic conditions to optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery. One element of the Predictive Efficient Drive system is Predictive Deceleration Support which uses accumulated knowledge about a driver’s behavior to predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop.

Another feature in the Predictive Efficient Drive system is the all-new Predictive State of Charge (SOC) control for the hybrid battery. A first for any Lexus hybrid, the SOC system uses data from the navigation system to predict the optimal times for recharging the battery. For instance, if the system detects a downhill section approaching, it will utilize additional electric motor power on the way up the hill to preserve fuel and make room in the battery for the excess regenerative power that will be recaptured on the way down the hill.

Connected Technologies

Staying connected on the road is essential to today’s drivers, so the UX makes it easier with a number of standard technology features. Lexus is among the first luxury automakers to feature Amazon Alexa integration, so UX drivers can ask Alexa to play music and media, read Kindle books, control smart home devices, and more. All UX models will also come standard with Apple CarPlay phone functionality.

A New Way to Access a Lexus

When the UX goes on sale in December of 2018, there will be a new option in addition to the usual purchase and lease processes. For the first time in the history of Lexus, the UX will be offered through a subscription service. Details will be announced closer to the UX on-sale date.

The UX and RxArt Together in New York

The debut of the Lexus UX in North America was marked by a unique piece of urban artwork commissioned by Lexus in collaboration with RxArt, a non-profit organization that helps children deal with serious illnesses by bringing art to their hospital spaces. Noted Brooklyn artist, Daniel Heidkamp, produce work that was displayed alongside the UX at an event prior to the New York auto show. After the show, Heidkamp’s work is going to be repurposed for display at a New York City children’s cancer center.

The UX 200 and UX 250h will start production this fall and go on sale in the U.S. in December.

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Longtime automotive journalist S.J. Bryan has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is an editor with Ford Truck Enthusiasts and regular contributor to F-150 Online, Harley-Davidson Forums, and The Mustang Source, among other popular auto sites.

Bryan first discovered her passion for all things automotive while riding in her parent's 1968 Ford Mustang. The automotive expert cut her teeth growing up riding on Harleys, and her first car was a Chevy Nova. Despite her lead foot, Bryan has yet to receive a speeding ticket.

The award-winning former playwright was first published at age 18. She has worked extensively as a writer and editor for a number of lifestyle and pop culture publications. The diehard gearhead is a big fan of American muscle cars, sixth-gen Ford trucks, and Oxford commas.

S.J. can be reached at [email protected].

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