2019 Lexus UX 250h
Not just glorified Corolla
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- 22 Jul 2019 01:27 PM
By James Park
Smallest and least expensive in the Lexus Canada lineup, the UX comes across as a sensible urban vehicle that does not promise anything beyond its advertised capabilities.
Although presented as a crossover utility, the UX does not offer AWD in its base form. You can tick the option box for the AWD option, but don’t expect anything resembling the traditional kind – but more on that later.
Also, take a closer scrutiny at the UX’s ground clearance and you’ll quickly realize that you won’t be packing gears for any serious off-roading anytime soon. In fact, you’ll probably even hesitate to drive over any unpaved surfaces for too long.
As luxury division of Toyota, Lexus shares a fair number of parts and whatnot with Toyota – anything from the basic architecture to infotainment components and beyond.
In this way, the UX and the new Toyota Corolla share the basic platform called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), as well as engine, transmission and the hybrid system.
For now, the UX comes in two flavours: the gas-powered 200 and the hybrid 250h.
Starting from $37,100, the base 200 gets its barely adequate motivation from the normal-breathing 2-litre four-cylinder engine good for maximum 169 ponies. This version comes in front-wheel-drive (FWD) only.
The hybrid – UX 250h – produces little more oomph. In this case, the same 2-litre engine partners with an electric motor to generate combined 181 horsepower. Furthermore, the motor sits atop the rear axle to turn the rear wheels, giving the UX 250h a less conventional AWD capability.
The 250h starts from $39,700. The test-vehicle provided to this writer also came with $8,800 worth of ‘F Sport 2’ option package that adds such goodies as heated steering, heated/cooled leather front seats, dual-zone auto climate, 18’ alloys, head-up display, premium audio, navigation, Intuitive Parking Assist, etc.
Another $650 goes to the optional paint, kicking up the total cost before taxes and other mandatory gouging to $49,150.
For both 200 and 250h, only transmission available is the continuously variable kind. However, as first seen in the Corolla Hatchback last year, this CVT uses fixed first gear to reduce the dreaded ‘rubber-band’ effect.
Either gas or hybrid, the UX sports the same exterior styling that, not unlike other Lexus vehicles, could be accused of being over-the-top and overly busy. However, the UX’s ‘Spindle Grill’ looks better integrated than many of its brethren and its overall appearance is not unhandsome.
The UX’s interior generates less controversy. As a matter of fact, it’s a nice place to spend quality time in, supported by comfortable leather seats, both heated and cooled. They even have auto setting.
The thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good in your hands and this writer really appreciates cars that still retain the traditional PRNDL shift-lever. All the controls are within easy reach and for the most part, simple to use.
One thing that annoys this writer to the point of exasperation happens to be the touch pad interface for the infotainment system. The darn thing is finicky and not particularly intuitive. (To those responsible – put your pride aside and get rid of it as soon as possible.)
Otherwise, there’s not much else to rant about. The materials used throughout have the quality look and the fit and finish is superb. In case of the hybrid model, the electric motor eats up a considerable chunk of cargo space in the back, but many owners of this car wouldn’t care all that much.
Stab the ignition button and the ‘Ready’ alert comes on in the instrument panel, reminding you that 250h is indeed a hybrid. It starts rolling with battery power alone but switches to internal combustion as soon as the need arises. The transition from electric to gas could be smoother, but nothing intolerable.
The combined 181 horses (torque numbers are unavailable) are nothing to write epic poems about, but they provide adequate shove for most everyday situations. Turn the drive mode dial to Sport and the car becomes more playful. The engine makes louder and more raucous noise, the instrument graphic switches to show the tachometer and everything seems to become a little tighter.
No, the UX is not a sports car. But it is still an agile vehicle and you’ll have fun piloting around city streets, as long as you’re not stuck in traffic. For those occasions, turn on the premium audio and enjoy the music.
As befitting a Lexus product, the UX employs an army of electronic nannies including radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian/bicycle detection, blind-side monitoring, auto high-beam, lane-tracing assist, and so on.
Similar to other hybrids, the UX 250h gets better fuel-mileage in city, thanks to more kilometers driven by electricity alone. Its official rating is 5.7 litres per 100 km in city and 6.2 litres on highway.
As small luxury crossovers go, the UX, especially the 250h, seems to be carving a nice niche for itself with look-at-me styling, luxury atmosphere, sophistication and fantastic fuel-mileage. It deserves a closer look. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2019 Lexus UX 250h
As tested: $49,150
Engine: 2.0 litre four + electric motor
Power: 181 hp
Fuel: 5.7 litres per 100km (city), 6.2 litres (highway)
Best: fuel-mileage, upscale atmosphere
Worst: touch-pad interface
Competition: Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA 250. Mini Countryman, BMW X1
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