The FINANCIAL — Following recent launches of its stunning LS flagship sedan and three-row RXL luxury utility vehicle, Lexus is opening a new gateway into the brand with the all-new UX compact luxury crossover. Making its North American debut at the 2018 New York Auto Show, the UX introduces a bold new design, ultra-efficient new powertrains and innovative luxury features.
“The first-ever Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving,” said Chika Kako, executive vice president of Lexus International and chief engineer of the UX. “We designed the UX to appeal to buyers in their 30s who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.”
The 2019 Lexus UX will be available in two powertrains: the front-wheel drive UX 200 introduces a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine coupled with a new Direct-Shift continuously variable transmission (CVT) while the UX 250h pairs an Atikinson Cycle version of the same 2.0-liter gas engine with a new fourth generation hybrid drive system and eAWD, according to Toyota.
Daring Design Meets Urban Versatility
The UX makes a bold statement in a segment characterized by conventional SUV themes. The striking design, notable for its crisp, prominent sculpting and dramatically flared front and rear fenders, surrounds a cabin that provides a driver-focused cockpit and a roomy, relaxing space for passengers.
A 103.9-in. wheelbase contributes to a smooth, stable ride and ample passenger space, while the compact 177-inch overall length and best-in-class 17.1 ft. turning radius lets the Lexus UX easily maneuver into convenient “compact only” parking spaces.
At the rear, an elegantly simple styling treatment contrasts sharply with the flared fenders to emphasize the UX’s dynamic and strong crossover qualities. Full-width taillights project a distinctive nighttime signature formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs and tapering to 3 millimeters at its thinnest toward the center.
A Solid Basis for Efficient Performance
Compact and infused with dynamic attitude, the 2019 Lexus UX is engineered to deliver “elegant performance” thanks to the first use of the brand’s GA-C (Global Architecture – Compact) platform. The super-rigid structure and low center of gravity help the UX deliver both precise handling and exemplary ride comfort.
The MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone-type rear suspension system are specially tuned for a combination of urban agility and comfort over well-worn streets. Even the smallest of details like the quality of the damper oil, oil seals and friction control in the shock absorbers were tested and retested to assure the optimum ride quality. The electric power steering system features a new compact and highly rigid column assist that helps deliver crisp, immediate response to driver inputs and a precise steering feel.
UX 200: High Efficiency Engine and New Direct Shift CVT
Engaging performance and high fuel efficiency are the calling cards of the new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine in the UX 200. Delivering up to 168 horsepower to the front wheels, the all-new engine utilizes advanced technologies like multi-hole direct fuel injectors, a continuously variable capacity oil pump and VVT-iE intelligent variable valve-timing on the intake side to achieve maximum thermal efficiency of nearly 40 percent – an exceptional number for a passenger vehicle engine.
A new Direct Shift-CVT also debuts in the UX 200. It combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a conventional continuously variable transmission with the more direct feel of a traditional gear-driven automatic. A conventional CVT uses two variable pulleys, connected by a belt, to change the effective gear ratio. The Lexus Direct Shift-CVT adds a traditional gearset for starting from a stop, giving the UX quicker, more linear acceleration off the line. Because the gears reduce the need for the CVT’s pulleys and belt mechanism to be used in the low range, more of the CVT’s ratio spread can be dedicated to the higher range which helps the UX 200 deliver an estimate 33 mpg in combined driving. Paddle shifters are added on F SPORT models.
UX 250h: The Latest Generation of Hybrid Technology
Lexus introduced the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle 15 years ago, and the brand remains the luxury hybrid leader. The 2019 UX 250h underscores that position with a new-generation hybrid powertrain that delivers engaging performance and exemplary fuel efficiency.
The UX 250h combines an Atkinson Cycle version of the 2.0-liter gas engine found in the UX 200 with a hybrid system for a projected output of 176 total system horsepower, and estimated 38 combined MPG. Optimizing the level of electric motor assistance and engine RPM produces a linear acceleration feel without the engine running at high revs. Engine speed is synchronized with vehicle speed to create an immediate and continuous acceleration feel.
All Wheel Drive to Suit All Situations
The UX 250h model in the U.S. will feature eAWD which adds an electric motor to the rear axle. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is automatically optimized when accelerating, cornering, or driving on slippery surfaces.
Capable of not only adjusting the power split when the front wheels lose grip, eAWD is sophisticated enough to improve stability by introducing drag or adding power to help correct an over- or understeer situation.
Predictive Efficient Drive
The UX 250h is the first Lexus to offer Predictive Efficient Drive, a system that analyzes driving habits along with road and traffic conditions to optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery.
One element of the Predictive Efficient Drive system is Predictive Deceleration Support which uses accumulated knowledge about a driver’s behavior to predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop. For example, when the UX approaches a location where the driver has slowed or stopped in the past, and the driver releases the accelerator pedal, Predictive Deceleration Support increases regenerative braking, allowing more efficient energy recovery and recharging of the hybrid battery.
Another feature in the Predictive Efficient Drive system is the all-new Predictive State of Charge (SOC) control for the hybrid battery. A first for any Lexus hybrid, the SOC system uses data from the navigation system to predict the optimal times for recharging the battery. For instance, if the system detects a downhill section approaching, it will utilize additional electric motor power on the way up the hill to preserve fuel and make room in the battery for the excess regenerative power that will be recaptured on the way down the hill.
Connected Technologies for Today’s Digital Drivers
Staying connected on the road is essential to today’s drivers, so the UX makes it easier with a number of standard technology features. Lexus is among the first luxury automakers to feature Amazon Alexa integration, so UX drivers can ask Alexa to play music and media, read Kindle books, control smart home devices, and more
All UX models will also come standard with Apple CarPlay phone functionality. Once a compatible iPhone is connected through a USB cable, drivers can access Apple Music, maps, make phone calls, and send and receive messages all through the multimedia display or with voice control through Siri.
The UX, the new gateway to the brand, will offer the Lexus Safety System+ as standard equipment. It includes advanced safety technologies including Lane Tracing Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist and a Pre-Collision System that can recognize pedestrians at night. Additionally, PCS radar capability has been extended to enable detection of cyclists during the day – road users who are involved in a high number of traffic accidents.
A New Way To Access a Lexus
When the UX goes on sale in December of 2018, there will be a new option in addition to the usual purchase and lease processes. For the first time in the history of Lexus, the UX will be offered through a subscription service. Details will be announced closer to the UX on-sale date.
The UX and RxArt Together in New York
The debut of the Lexus UX in North America will be marked by a unique piece of urban artwork commissioned by Lexus in collaboration with RxArt, a non-profit organization that helps children deal with serious illnesses by bringing art to their hospital spaces. Noted Brooklyn artist, Daniel Heidkamp, will produce the work that will be displayed alongside the UX at an event prior to the New York auto show. After the show, Heidkamp’s work will be repurposed for display at the Hassenfield Children’s Hospital at NYU Lagone.
The UX 200 and UX 250h will start production this fall and go on sale in the U.S. in December. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.