The latest from Lexus is the brand's smallest utility vehicle ever, a brand-new subcompact called the UX. This is now also the smallest Lexus, period, as this new model replaces the recently discontinued CT compact hatchback as the company's entry-level model.
Lexus says the UX is based on the Toyota CH-R but, as is the case with other Lexus models that share platforms with its parent company's vehicles, this one should deliver a notably different feel. Lexus says half of the UX's chassis components are unique, the suspension tuning is different, the structure and body incorporate more aluminum along with a composite tailgate and the Lexus's centre of gravity is lower.
As is so often Lexus' way, the UX can be had with a conventional gasoline engine (in the UX 200) and a gas-electric powertrain (UX 200h), both of which are built around a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that makes 168 hp on its own and nominally more when combined with electric power. Both motors are matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The UX 200 is FWD-only; UX 250h models get a rear-mounted electric motor that makes them AWD.
Equipment highlights include single-knob ventilation control, wireless lighting and what Lexus calls the world's first aerodynamic wheel design, which helps cool the brakes while reducing the car's wind resistance. The UX will also get the latest version of the Lexus Safety System +, comprising a pre-collision system that can recognize pedestrians at night, daytime cyclist detection, lane tracing assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.
In the cabin, Lexus says the driver will find evidence of what it calls the "seat-in-control" design concept, which it says puts all key functions within easy reach of the driver, something that should go without saying.
Lexus sends every UX out the door with Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, but not Android Auto.
With the UX, Lexus throws its hat into a ring already occupied by the likes of Mercedes-Benz (GLA-Class), BMW (X2), Mini (Countryman) and Infiniti (QX30). You could say it's about time Lexus got into this game, but each automaker sets its own pace and Lexus decided now was when it should roll a compact crossover out into one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.
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