Lexus UX review
The Lexus UX is a striking small SUV with a classy, well-equipped interior, but those looks won’t be to everyone’s taste and the infotainment system is about the fiddliest there is
What's not so good
Find out more about the Lexus UX
The Lexus UX is an eye-catching alternative to posh small SUVs such as the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q2 and the current trendsetter: the Volvo XC40.
Those alternatives look set to have lower starting prices when the Lexus UX goes on sale in January 2019. So if you are interested in the Lexus UX, make sure to log in to carwow then to ensure you get a great Lexus UX deal. But with striking looks and well-built interior, the hybrid Lexus UX is definitely one to consider if you’re a fan of the design and appreciate a high-quality, well-made interior.
While the Lexus NX and RX SUVs look pretty similar, the Lexus UX dimensions make it noticeably shorter and narrower than the other two. It’s not the highest riding of SUVs either. But an arresting front grille, sharp creases all across its exterior and a rear light that stretches right across width of the boot lid mean it’ll grab attention despite its small size.
The striking design continues into the Lexus UX interior. You couldn’t describe the dashboard as minimalist – there are loads of buttons across the dash and steering wheel – but everything feels lovely and well made. The controls and the 7.0- or 10.25-inch infotainment screen (depending on specification) are all angled towards the driver so fall easy to hand.
Over the years Lexus’ infotainment systems haven’t been the easiest to use and the Lexus UX system unfortunately doesn’t buck the trend.
True, it doesn’t have the tricky mouse controller you’ll find in the RX – preferring the touchpad system like in the NX. There has been an update, however, with some of the controls moved to a controller next to the centre console bin, behind the trackpad. Still, the systems in alternatives are not as fiddly and have more crisp and more modern graphics.
For a supposedly high-riding SUV, you actually sit relatively low in the Lexus UX, but Lexus seats are very comfortable and there’s a decent range of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel to make long journeys pleasant.
Things aren’t so great in the back however. You’ll find three seat belts in the rear but in reality the Lexus UX is more four-seater than five. The middle seat is narrow and there’s a hump in the floor, restricting space for your legs.
The arm rest folds down to reveal a couple of cupholders and the bin in the centre console is a decent size. Figures for boot capacity have yet to be released, but you’ll struggle to get much more than a couple of cabin suitcases in the UX boot – enough for a weekend away, for sure, but you may need to pack light for longer trips.
The Lexus UX is way cooler than anything German. The front of the car is more grille than anything else and there are sharp creases everywhere. It certainly stands out.
The Lexus UX is only available as a hybrid in the UK so engine and transmission choice is simple – you get a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor for a combined power output of 176bhp. It comes with a CVT automatic gearbox.
‘UX’ stands for Urban Crossover, highlighting that this is an SUV built for the city – it has not been designed to tow a boat or ford a river like you might do in a traditional 4×4. However you can opt for a four-wheel-drive Lexus UX. That’ll provide extra grip over wet leaves and around corners but don’t expect to cross the Outback in the UX.
Around town, it’s easy to drive and maneuverable. You get a good view out and the optional Parking Support Alert makes parking a doddle. On faster roads the car is relatively quiet with the engine only getting noisy when you accelerate hard.
Fuel consumption figures have yet to be confirmed but expect real world economy of around 50mpg for the two-wheel drive Lexus UX, dropping to around 40mpg for the four-wheel drive cars.
Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the Lexus UX yet, but expect a good score when it does. The Lexus UX has a range of active and passive safety kit to keep you safe.
There are some nice practical touches in the Lexus UX, but space is a bit tight in the rear and alternative SUVs have bigger boots
The Lexus UX front seats are really comfortable. The standard driving seat comes with six-way manual adjustment but for maximum flexibility take a look at the eight-way power adjustable front seats. This comes with lumbar support for the driver – which eases back ache on longer journeys.
An electrically adjustable steering wheel is also available when you have power seats, ideal if you like to set your position ‘just so’.
Things aren’t quite so good for passengers in the back, however. You’ll find more space in the back of a Volvo XC40, and the middle seat is only really suitable on short journeys.
Still, if you have young children you’ll be pleased to see easily accessible Isofix points that don’t have fiddly covers you’ll find in some cars. The Lexus UX isn’t the highest of SUVs so you’ll have to bend down further to fit a child’s seat than you would in some alternatives, but not as low as you would in a standard hatchback.
There’s a deep storage bin between the front seats of the Lexus UX to store your stuff. Underneath the air con controls there’s a shelf for your mobile phone – it can also charge it up if your smartphone has that capability.
You’ll also find a couple of cupholders in front of the gearshift although they are not the deepest and the same can be said for the front door bins.
For the (two) passengers in the back, the centre armrest has a couple of cupholders and there are a couple of handy USB ports in the back seats too.
You’ll have no trouble getting a few cabin suitcases into the Lexus UX boot. The boot has a flat floor so you don’t have to lug things over an awkward lip, but although official figures for the Lexus UX boot have yet to be published, we expect it to be smaller than the boot you’ll find in, say, a BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
You will be able to fit in the aforementioned cabin suitcases for a weekend away, but if you’re planning longer trips in the Lexus UX, you will need to pack light.
Also, while there are a few tethers to help tie stuff down, there are no neat party tricks that you’ll find in a Volvo XC40 for example – through loading, electrically folding seats and the like. You can get the boot to open and close electrically though.
The Lexus UX is a doddle to drive, ideally suited the negotiating city streets. And you can get any engine and gearbox combination you like – as long as it’s petrol-electric hybrid
The UX is a hybrid – a kind of SUV-hatchback hybrid. It sits lower than other SUVs and feels more like a family hatchback to drive. That’s not a bad thing
Choosing your Lexus UX is simple – you can only get the UX 250h hybrid in the UK. That means you get a 2.0-litre petrol engine that works with an electric motor to give a combined output of 176bhp. This set-up comes with an automatic (CVT) gearbox – there is no manual gearbox available.
So the only real choice you have to make is whether you want two- or four-wheel drive.
‘UX’ stands for Urban Crossover, highlighting that this is an SUV that’s built for the city – so the four-wheel drive capability is more to provide grip and traction over slippery wet leaves or going around corners, not for getting you across the outback.
Fuel economy is OK. In real-world conditions, you can expect around 50mpg for the two-wheel drive car, and that drops to nearer 40mpg for the four-wheel-drive UX.
You can buy SUVs that are sporty and fun to drive, and you can get SUVs that are comfortable and relaxing – the Lexus UX sits somewhere in the middle.
It is as comfortable to drive as any Lexus – the car doesn’t judder or shake when you go over potholes, and you don’t hear much in the way of road, wind or engine noise when you are on the motorway.
Yet around town the car feels nippy, able to dart in and out of traffic and, whisper it… is quite fun to drive.
Some hybrid cars have a weird thing where, if you accelerate hard there is a noisy delay from when you press the pedal to when the power actually comes through to the wheels. Thankfully, the Lexus UX is not like that – the acceleration is smooth and relatively quiet.
On the Lexus UX F Sport you can choose the Lexus Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) as an option. This should help the car from leaning too far when you go around corners and helps reduce bumps when you drive over potholes.
EuroNCAP hasn’t crash tested the UX just yet but we would expect a good score when it does – the Lexus UX comes with a wide range of active and passive safety systems that should keep you and your passengers safe.
Like every Lexus, the UX interior is beautifully made with expensive-feeling materials, but if you are a fan of minimalist design, perhaps look elsewhere
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.