2019 Lexus UX 200 F Sport Review

Lexus' new entry level vehicle is surprising and strange


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Really fun to drive, well-executed interior feels special, great front-wheel drive setup, great seats, unique styling
Negatives: No all-wheel drive available for the gas version, cramped rear quarters, artificial engine sounds are strange
Bottom Line: The UX 200 F Sport is more appealing than we thought it would be. Fun to drive, if not fast, cool to look at if not head-turning, it's a great package that offers unique aesthetics and some of Lexus's best interior design.
The Lexus IS sedan is no longer the base model in the Lexus lineup. The new UX compact crossover takes its place as the cheapest Lexus you can buy, and it's based off the radical UX Concept. The production model isn't quite as nuts, and that never would've happened based on cost alone. What the UX does provide is a premium looking and premium feeling, slightly hatchback/wagon-like low-slung crossover that's meant to draw young folks to the brand. We drove the non-hybrid version in F Sport trim for a week to see if it could win over our skepticism.
 

Driving Experience

8.4

 

The UX drives way better than we thought. It's not a sports car, but it's also not ponderous and boring to helm, despite its lack of power. Sport mode adjust throttle mapping and ups the fun factor.

Ride Quality: On the firm side, the UX still absorbs bumps remarkably well.

Acceleration: There's really no torque steer, which makes the UX seem faster than it is. Throttle response is good, and the CVT is actually one of the better ones without that rubbery launch feeling.

Braking: The brakes are progressive with very good pedal feel.

Steering: Despite the fact that there's little feedback, turn-in is very good, and there's some effort there.

Handling: The UX 200 F Sport handles pretty well and feels balanced.

Technology

8

 

We're still not huge fans of the Enform system, but this is one of the better ones in existence. Overall, Lexus has improved over the past year, and it shows in the UX.

Infotainment System: Our tester had the larger screen, which is crisp and fills the frame properly. The icons are clear, and the menus are laid out in linear fashion, unlike the old grid.

Controls: We like the new center console controls that use rotary audio/media dials that rotate and push for selection, along with the better touchpad. The drive mode stalks on the instrument binnacle are just like the pricey LC and new ES. Very nice.

Styling

8.4

 

Though not as daring as the concept (not much is), the UX 200 in the production version is quite attractive. Because of its more modern body, the grille doesn't seem out of place (compared to the big LX). It's also not as wild as the LC or the RC, which makes it more appealing to mainstream customers.

Front: The F Sport grille is properly aggressive, and the large intakes that melds with the foglight housings are a good match for the black plastic mesh.

Rear: We love the single bar LED taillight that actually looks better than the NX or RX's units. The back end is simple but still artistic.

Profile: From this angle, the UX looks a bit awkward. The short rear overhang is betrayed by the tail section that protrudes, and the front overhang seems overly long. At least the black trim gives the appearance of ruggedness, even though the FWD UX can't back it up.

Cabin: In one of the best executed Lexus cabins, the UX shines in F Sport trim. It looks sporty, clean, and fun.

Comfort

8.2

 

Though the UX is small, it's level of comfort is quite good because of excellent seats and ergonomics, if not for the room.

Front Seats: The F Sport trim seats look and feel like real leather, despite the fact that they're not. Not only do they look pricey, the support and cushioning are excellent.

Rear Seats: As expected, legroom is tight because of the car's dimensions. The outboard position seatbacks are nice, but the cushions are flat. The middle position is really only for kids.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Though the cabin is quiet, you can hear the engine sounds piped in, and they sound pretty artificial.

Visibility: Sightlines out the front and sides are pretty good, but the rear is obscured by thick pillars and headrests that block the small rear window.

Climate: The climate system fired up quickly, and the heated seats work almost too well. It's also nice that a crossover this small has vents for the rear passengers.

Safety

6

 

Though the UX hasn't been tested in either trim level, the fact that it's based on the safe Toyota C-HR. It also has one serious suite of safety technology.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The standard tech is robust with the Standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 and comes with a Pre-Collision System, Pedestrian Detection, Daytime Bicyclist Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Road Sign Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. There's also a backup camera with dynamic grid lines.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with a Blind Spot Monitor.

Storage/Cargo

6.8

 

As you'd think, there's not a lot of rear cargo room, but the space that exists is useful. Lexus has done a respectable for a compact crossover, and there's enough for two people to road trip.

Storage Space: There's a flat storage spot under the center stack, conveniently placed cupholders, and a decenlty sized armrest.

Cargo Room: 21.7 cubic feet behind the second row is good for a few grocery bags or some luggage. The load floor is flat, too. No figures on the space with the second row folded flat, unfortunately.

Fuel Economy

8

 

We would've gotten better mileage if we didn't stay in Sport mode 100% of the time and punched the gas at every opportunity to extract the most from the UX 200. Nevertheless, returns were pretty good.

Observed: 20.7 mpg

Distance Driven: 132.8 miles

Audio

9

 

We were actually quite shocked with how good the upgraded system is. 8 speakers are crisp and have great clarity and bass. It's one of the better systems we've come across.



Final Thoughts

We came away from our time in the UX 200 won over by its uniqueness. It's not so weird that you want to walk in the opposite direction. In fact, it's a brilliant new addition to the Lexus crossover lineup. It looks and feels more expensive than it is, and despite the lack of a real transmission or anything approaching 200 horsepower, it's fun to toss around. The fact that the interior is truly handsome and useful makes for a strong case for the UX.
Shopping for a new
Lexus UX 200?

(844) 801-8526
Call our vehicle experts for
assistance with your research.