The new 2019 Lexus UX is the wrong vehicle at the wrong price in the compact luxury SUV segment.
I’ve had an idea brewing in my mind for a blog topic for a few weeks about how we consumers get suckered into paying through the nose for cars and trucks with a high-end badge. This applies to all consumer goods but in the car business, we are especially prone to falling into a trap – we show off our car everywhere we go and they are an extension of ourselves. Enter the Lexus UX.
And then, as though to support and justify my thoughts, I picked up this UX and it added fuel to my fire. What is a UX? I’ve honestly no idea. I’m either too old, too young, too poor or too savvy to understand why Lexus has this thing in its lineup. What I can tell you is the following:
The new 2019 Lexus is a Toyota CH-R or Toyota Corolla hatchback with a different nose, more tech and nicer materials and as much as I think it is pointless, I love it. Confused? So am I.
Let’s break it down.
Why you should buy a 2019 Lexus UX:
- This tiny Lexus is built on the same platform as the above-mentioned two vehicles, the TNGA-C (GA-C), which is currently one off the most sophisticated and brilliantly engineered of its kind on the market.
- The ride quality is excellent. Its chassis is expertly tuned with lovely steering and brakes.
- Up front, the UX features an almost unnaturally good cockpit-like setup for the driver. The driving position is textbook, the steering wheel (F SPORT) feels great and lands perfectly in hand.
- Despite the far-less-than-impressive numbers, the 200’s 169-horsepower naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine is plenty fun. The attached Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission is properly suited for the task.
- The available Available F SPORTSeries 1 package is well worth the $2,300 asking price. It includes a heated steering, great seats, 18-inch wheels and a few other goodies.
- The UX 250H hybrid is barely more expensive than the UX 200 FWD, features AWD and is considerably better on fuel.
Why you should not buy a 2019 Lexus UX:
- The base 2019 Lexus UX is $37,100, or nearly $8,500 more than a loaded 2019 Toyota CH-R Limited. The equipment level is similar, and both are just as ugly. A Lexus badge and grille are not worth the expected premium in this segment, at this price point. Convince me otherwise.
- The UX should be rated as a 2+2 seating configuration with a large glovebox as a trunk. There was no way to get my son’s baby seat in the rear and me sitting in the driver seat if both were to keep our legs below the knee.
- Again on the price: A 2019 BMW X1, with AWD, a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission and BMW logos. Also, it starts at $40,500. On a lease, both are nearly the same price per month over an equal loan period. And there’s way more to this point. Keep reading.
- As with all Lexus products, the dreaded Remote Touch Interface pad is included. Added however are the volume and tune rotary wheels built into the arm/hand rest, which help if only a little.
A more useless yet compelling vehicle, I can’t recall. The Toyota CH-R is close but the extra chassis tuning and attention to detail (still not worth the asking price) make the UX too good to drive to fully ignore. According to Lexus, the UX is expressly crafted for the urban explorer. I’d ad: who travels lightly and with never more than a single passenger.
I can’t help but imagine Lexus product planners and marketing teams attempting to establish the price. They can’t ask too much but nor can they retail it for too little – it’ll cheapen the brand. Problem is that it needs to be less expensive. The UX 200 FWD’s $37,100 sticker price is only $1,800 lower than that of the new 2019 Audi Q3 45 TFSI quattro. It’s a no-brainer.
And yet, as I cruise about my hood in the 2019 Lexus UX, I could not help but enjoy myself. The last time I’d enjoyed myself as much behind the wheel of a compact Toyota was in the new Corolla hatchback which, with the 6-speed manual transmission and top XSE trim retails for more than $10,000 less! Subtract a grand for the CVT version.
There is fundamentally no good reason to buy the Lexus UX, as pleasant as it is. In its stead, look for the Q3, X1, or across the showroom floor at the NX 300 which starts at $44,050. And then there’s the new 2019 Cadillac XT4 which has a roomier 2nd row, as lovely a drive and a boosted 2.0-litre engine. With AWD, pricing starts at $37,795.
I think I’ve made my point.