2021 Lexus UX

By January 27, 2021

The 2021 Lexus UX is a stylish crossover body, a choice between hybrid or gas powertrains, and an affordable price that undercuts the competition.

This year’s UX now gets blind-spot monitors as standard, but otherwise things stand pat for the new model year.

Of the two flavors of UX, the UX200 is the more affordable and conventional. It gets its power from a 169-hp, 2.0-liter inline-4 that it shares with the Toyota Corolla. It’s capable of 8.5-second 0-60 mph times and an EPA rating of 29 mpg city, 37 highway, 32 combined.

The hybrid UX250h uses a different 2.0-liter inline-4 that gets hooked up to a 1.4-kwh battery and two small electric motors. Combined output is 175 hp. Fuel economy ratings have the UX sipping at a miserly rate of 41/38/39 mpg.

Standard safety features on the UX include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and lane-departure warnings. As mentioned, blind-spot monitors have been made standard for 2021 as well.

Crash-test results have been promising, with the IIHS naming the UX a Top Safety Pick Plus and the NHTSA awarding it five stars overall.

Model Lineup

Both the UX200 and UX250h share the same three trim levels: base, F Sport, and Luxury. The base starts at $33,925 after destination in UX200 guise; expect to pay another $2,200 for an equivalent UX250h. Both get standard features such as synthetic leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The F Sport begins at $35,925 and mixes in sport seats, a retuned suspension, a “performance-inspired” gauge cluster, 18-inch wheels, and more aggressive bumper designs.

Luxury models cost $38,625 or $40,825 for a UX200 or UX250h, respectively. Standard equipment includes a power liftgate, heated and cooled front seats with memory, and a moonroof.

Exterior

The rather squat stance and carlike lines of the UX are more suggestive of a hatchback than any crossover. Like the rest of this segment, the UX is more carlike than it is like an SUV. Compared to the Toyota Corolla hatchback, the UX measures just 3 inches taller. It wears body cladding and rides slightly higher, but otherwise there’s little to suggest the UX has off-roading on its mind.

Interior

The Lexus UX strikes a good balance between luxury and affordability. It has an interior complete with fine materials and a nice helping of luxury features. It doesn’t sacrifice the core Lexus tenets of comfort, quiet, and convenience in an attempt to strike its price point.

The infotainment system could use a reboot, though. Instead of a touchscreen, buyers need to use a touchpad on the center console to make selections and change menus. The optional 10.3-inch screen is bigger but uses the same touchpad.

We found the seats comfortable, their contours accommodating for a variety of figures and the optional heating and cooling functionality a nice touch. The synthetic leather wrapping the seats is fairly convincing.

The back seat is snug, something endemic to the cozy dimensions of the UX. Rear-seat leg room measures 33 inches. Head room is skimpy when the moonroof is equipped.

The UX200 holds 22 cubic feet in the cargo hold, but the UX250h’s hybrid accoutrements reduce that figure to 17 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The UX is Lexus’ urban runabout. With a strong bias toward fuel economy, its acceleration is moderate, and it can seep into the cabin despite lots of sound deadening. On the F Sport, Lexus pipes in additional sound captured from the engine, but it’s unnecessary.

The F Sport also gets different suspension tuning than the base model, and we like its crisper responses. It comes with paddle shifters that entertain the driver more than they make a difference in acceleration.

The UX is at best as a city runabout, where its compliant suspension happily mutes decrepit urban roads. Highway manners are pleasant as well, but high speeds are better suited to bigger cars with more muscle. Interstate passing and uphills can be done in the UX, but they aren’t very quick.

Final Word

The 2021 Lexus UX offers a premium brand label on a nicely styled compact crossover. It’s a smart choice for city drivers who put fuel economy and safety gear at the top of their shopping lists. Choose the UX200h hybrid, which delivers the best of all those worlds.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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