Lexus has pulled the cover off of its first subcompact crossover. The UX debuted on a new platform with new engines and a bold design.
The UX is a little crossover, aimed at making city driving easier. It's the brand's first entry into the rapidly growing premium subcompact SUV segment. At just 4,495 mm long, it's actually shorter than a Corolla by 154 mm. That helps give it a tiny turning radius for downtown driving, along with the ability to put it into spaces the larger NX or RX wouldn't fit.
The UX will come with two powertrains, a new 2.0L four and a hybrid system option. The UX 200's four-cylinder will make 200 hp and will be backed by a new Direct Shift-CVT. That transmission uses an extra gearset to give a special ratio for pulling away from a stop. Lexus says that will give a more linear feel to the UX's acceleration. The extra gear range will also give the CVT a better range of ratios for more efficiency.
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The UX 250h will pair that same engine with the latest version of the Lexus hybrid system. Combined, the system will offer 176 hp. It uses a new, compact transaxle to send power to the front wheels. The nickel–metal hydride battery is positioned under the seats to maximize cargo space. All-wheel drive will come from an electric motor on the rear axle, not with a conventional driveshaft.
The UX gets a bold version of the Lexus spindle grille that has a new flattened-helix mesh structure. At the rear, the UX has new full-width taillights that use 120 LEDs and taper down to just 3 mm thick at the narrowest point.
The interior is inspired by traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The instrument panel gives the impression of extending past the windshield, providing the driver with a feeling of space. Lexus has given the UX thin A-pillar trims to help add to the good visibility and sense of openness. The UX debuts two new interior finishes. The first is a leather upholstery inspired by sashiko, a Japanese quilting technique used in making martial arts uniforms. The pattern of perforations comes from mathematical curves and gradations in perfect alignment. The second is a new trim inspired by traditional Japanese paper. Lexus says it evokes a calm and warm feeling.
The UX will offer Lexus Safety System+, an active safety suite that includes a pre-collision system that can spot pedestrians at night. The system also now detects cyclists. Lane tracing and radar cruise are optional.
Lexus UX sales are expected to begin at the end of the year, with pricing to follow closer to the on-sale date.