2019 Lexus UX 200 F Sport new car reviews

Related to the polarizing Toyota CH-R, the Lexus UX is an edgy hatchback with scaled-down SUV looks. All versions of the UX are powered by a 2.0-liter inline four, but UX 250h adds electric motors to the mix for a smart little hybrid.

An F Sport version is available for those that want an extra injection of sporty attitude--even if it's more for appearances than performance.

If you can afford the extra price of luxury, is this the easier option to live with than the CH-R?

Other staff views

Colin Wood Colin Wood
Associate Editor

I'm not supposed to like CUVs like the UX as a "car person," but I can't help it. This thing just works. It's just roomy enough without being too big. It has the utility of a economy hatchback without feeling like a penalty box. the star of the whole performance, however, is the transmission.

Yes, it's a CVT, but it's probably the best one I've driven thus far. It's not jarring like the one in my Honda Fit, and unless you really listen for the engine note, you won't even notice the lack of gear changes. However, my favorite part of the transmission is when you put it into sport mode.

In a car like my Fit, using the paddles on the back of wheel do "shift" the cars through its ratios (seven, in my case), but the whole process often leaves a lot to be desired as the transmission lulls though ratios.

Not so in the UX. Using the paddles does shift the car through its ratios, but it does it in such a way that mimics the mechanical delay of planetary gear set. Of course, that means the the transmission is technically less efficient, but efficiency isn't always the most fun.

Have I spent my review lauding the transmission in a entry-level luxury compact SUV? Yes I have, but that doesn't mean I have a few key takeaways: Overall, this is a great car if you want a small, utilitarian car that still feels premium. It's what I would consider "normal people sporty," in way that's a step or two below the experience you might have in a Toyoburu or a Miata.

And if you think I had zero issues with the UX, you'd be wrong. I thought the backup camera was a little fuzzy, and the rear cargo area has a lip that might make loading bulkier items a little tricky.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Okay, I’m officially stunned. For some reason, I love this car, and nothing makes sense anymore. The UX is the Lexus version of Toyota’s weird-but-intriguing CH-R, which itself is a proud middle finger to reason and sanity when it comes to small crossovers. Lexus takes the CH-R platform and… Lexifies it. Lots of luxury doodads are added, premium surfaces and equipment abound, and our test car even had the Lexus F Sport package which is totally a thing that exists for this small crossover and we’re not even going to ask why because it’s all good and who are we to argue?

If you read back on a lot of my toyota reviews, you’ll notice that I’m no fan of their interfaces. Well, Lexus fixes a lot of that by augmenting many of the common controls with good old fashioned buttons, dials and switches. Yeah it’s all still there and more in the DIC if you want to go menu diving, but you may never have to.

The interior of the thing seems like one of the ultimate expressions of Toyota’s typical excellent ergonomics, just turned up to 11. The seating position is perfect. The seats are perfect. Every button and switch is right where you think it will be, and they somehow integrate pleasingly into a good looking, classy package as well.

Yet, when you logically analyze this amazing personal driving pod, you realize IT’S A DANG CH-R AND THOSE ARE WEIRD, RIGHT? Whatever dark magic Lexus cast on that platform to turn it into a small, effective, personal luxury device we’re all in favor of.

No, it’s not fast, with only 169hp on tap, but you kind of don’t care. The UX hs an indestructible, “right-sized” feel about it like you just know it’s going to be every bit as good and as useful at 175,000 miles as it is off the showroom floor. It’s $40,000 and change—yes, for a fancy CH-R—but for some reason that sounds actually reasonable when you drive it.

Look, I don't get it either. But somehow Lexus has taken an otherwise unremarkable (except for the weird looks) small crossover and turned it into a car that fell like I’d owned it for five years the first time I sat in it. Everything was where it was supposed to be, all the controls and the driving dynamics were second-nature intuitive, and the whole thing felt as comfortable and familiar as my favorite cargo shorts.

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