Car Reviews

2019 Lexus UX200 Review

Stephen Ottley’s Lexus UX200 Review 2019 With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Interior, Ownership, Verdict And Score.

IN A NUTSHELL: Forget the unloveable CT hatchback, Lexus has a fresh take on an entry-level model and it’s an SUV to attract young luxury car buyers to the Japanese brand. Beyond the visual appeal, the UX200 also combines SUV substance with small-car driving characteristics.

Lexus UX200 Sports Luxury review

‘GET ‘EM WHILE they’re young’ is an ethos for so many brands, across a variety of industries from fashion to food, but nowhere quite as importantly as motoring. Capturing an audience while they are young and convincing them to maintain a lucrative attraction to your brand is vital.

If your first car was a reliable machine that allowed you to explore your freedom, then it bodes well that your next car, and possibly your next after that will be the same make. The same rings true when you’re ready to step up into the world of luxury. Which is why the new UX SUV range is so critical to Lexus’ attempts to break the stranglehold of the big German luxury trio – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

What Does The Lexus UX200 Cost And What Do You Get?

Lexus offers a wide range of variants in the UX200 (tested here) and UX250h, available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

The UX200 comes in three trim levels – Luxury, Sports Luxury and F Sport – and we’re testing the middle of the range Sports Luxury, which is priced from $53,000 (plus on-road costs); a significant jump from the entry-level Luxury that begins at $44,450.

Standard equipment on the Sports Luxury includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Dunlop run-flat tyres, leather-accented seats with both heating and ventilation, climate control, keyless-entry and ignition and LED headlights with adaptive high beam.

What’s The Lexus UX200 Interior Like?

Two things stand out about the UX200 cabin. The first is the quality of the design, fit, and finish. It looks and feels like a true luxury vehicle with nice materials used throughout. The seats, in particular, are trimmed in soft leather that makes you feel like you are in something special.

The second standout element is the way the seats are positioned. While this is designed to look like an SUV, the seat feels significantly lower than the traditional elevated chairs you get in high-riding crossovers. You look out across the dash, instead of looking down on it, which blurs the line between SUV and small car in terms of how it feels for the driver.

The way the dashboard wraps around the front seat occupants also lends a feeling of being enveloped by the cabin, making you feel more a part of the UX. 

How Much Space Is There In The Lexus UX200?

This is meant to be Lexus’ entry-level model, so it’s a true compact SUV. It slots beneath the NX in the range and is similar in size to the Toyota C-HR (with which it shares some of its DNA). That translates to a tight back seat, which won’t be comfortable for adults on longer trips but certainly has adequate space for kids, so it can fill the role of a second family car.

However, Lexus has made no secret that the UX is targeted at young professionals and empty-nesters so it really isn’t intended for family duties.

What’s The Lexus UX200 Infotainment Like?

The Sports Luxury comes equipped with a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, which is excellent – good power and fantastic clarity. However, the touchpad interface is far from excellent. Despite attempts to improve it over previous models, it’s still a fiddly way to navigate your way around the 10.3-inch infotainment screen and can be especially tricky on the move. 

It’s a shame because it’s an otherwise likeable infotainment package, with a nice large screen that also includes navigation with SUNA live traffic updates, digital radio and a CD player (which is noteworthy at this point in time).

What’s The Lexus UX200 Engine Like?

Don’t say it too loudly in front of Lexus folk, but the 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine is very similar to what you’ll find under the bonnet of a Toyota Corolla. But with 126kW of power and 205Nm of torque it does a respectable job of motivating the UX200. 

You won’t win too many traffic light grands prix and the engine can sound a little loud and rough when revved hard, but most of the time it feels powerful enough to get the job done around town.

Toyota’s Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) uses a fixed first gear to overcome the usual problem of feeling doughy off the mark. Instead, there’s good step-off performance before the trademark flaring of revs as you continue to accelerate. However, Lexus has done a nice job on refining the powertrain and isolating its noises from the cabin.

What’s The Lexus UX200 Like To Drive?

It’s not just the lower-than-normal seating position that makes the UX200 feel more like a small car than an SUV. Dynamically this is one of the sharpest compact SUVs on the market today. The steering is nicely sorted, points in with accuracy, and is well-weighted. And the chassis is responsive via its taut response and controlled composure. It’s so impressive for the driver that it feels like the chassis could cope with more power; maybe a UX200t is something Lexus should consider?

The ride is let down slightly by the run-flat tyres, which tend to transmit more of the smaller imperfections in the road through the cabin, but overall the ride is well controlled and strikes a nice balance between handling and comfort.

Another standout is how well insulated the UX is, the outside world fades away when you’re behind the wheel. It adds another layer to the luxurious nature of this compact crossover.

How Safe Is The Lexus UX200?

The Japanese brand has been rolling out its Lexus Safety Sense+ suite for a few years now, so naturally, the UX200 comes loaded with gear. That includes pre-collision warning with both pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, active cruise control, lane-keeping assist, traffic-sign recognition and automatic high beam lights.

That’s all in addition to eight-airbags, a reversing camera, parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.

What Are The Lexus UX200 Alternatives?

There’s plenty to choose from thanks to the boom in compact SUV sales in recent years. The Audi Q2, BMW X1/X2, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40 are the most obvious rivals. Plus you can add to that the likes of the Mini Countryman, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and arguably the upcoming Mazda CX-30.

2019 Lexus UX200 Sports Luxury Pricing And Specifications

Price From $44,450 plus ORCs

Warranty 4 years/100,000km

Engine 2.0L petrol petrol

Power 126kW at 6600rpm

Torque 205Nm at 4800rpm

Transmission Direct-shift CVT

Drive front-wheel drive

Body 4495mm (l); 1840mm (w); 1520mm (h)

Kerb weight 1490kg

Seats 5

Spare Space saver

Fuel tank 47L

Thirst 5.8L/100km

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Editor's Rating

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The UX200 is the car Lexus needs to invigorate new and young buyers alike. It does a lot right and there's not much it doesn't do well enough, including most of its in-car entertainment which previously was a sore point for the brand.

Stephen Ottley

Stephen Ottley