Lexus has launched its newest and smallest crossover. The 2019 UX will slot in the lineup below the NX. When it arrives early next year, the tiny crossover will come with gas and hybrid electric drivetrains.
Lexus says that the UX name represents the concept that guided the designers. But no, that wasn't short for User eXperience in this case. This time it's Urban Crossover, the x for X-over. And because the rest of the Lexus crossovers get an X.
Who does Lexus see in the UX? "The modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving," said chief engineer Chika Kako. Which is corporate for buyers who want a luxury crossover, but want it in size small.
The UX is the first Lexus to ride on the company's new Global Architecture Compact platform. Lexus says it's designed to be light and super rigid with a low center of gravity and refined suspension tuning.
It will arrive in two versions. A 2.0L four offers 168 hp and 151 lb-ft and uses a CVT in the first. Lexus says it offers better balance and less complexity than competing turbo engines. That one drives the front wheels.
The hybrid option is an all-new version of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system. It uses a 2.0L four as the base and has 175 hp and electric all-wheel drive. The two-motor system has the motor-generators realigned to reduce friction and make for a more compact setup. The new system and its NiMH battery can now keep the gas engine off at speeds to 115 km/h, up from 70 in the previous system. All-wheel drive duties are handled by a seven hp electric motor mounted in the rear differential.
A new feature for the hybrid system uses the navigation system and learns your habits to optimize the battery state of charge for your driving and your route. Like increasing regen where it knows you normally slow for a light or curve, or making sure the battery isn't almost full just before you start to head down a mountain. It'll even charge to be ready for that traffic jam you haven't spotted yet.
The UX is loaded with active safety tech. Like full-speed radar cruise, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist with steering assist, lane tracing, and auto high beams. The pre-collision system adds camera-based detection to spot pedestrians in low light and the radar can see cyclists in the day.
The cabin uses the Lexus remote touch interface, but this time the volume and tuning knobs are built into the touchpad. Or just below it, at least. The 7.0-inch screen uses Entune 2.0 with various apps. It finally includes Apple CarPlay and a new graphical interface for the navigation system. Placing the touchpad on the far side of the gearshift is an interesting decision, but we'll reserve judgement until we drive it. A 10.3-inch display is available.
Expect pricing and fuel economy figures to follow, though Lexus US has said the hybrid delivers best in class at the pumps. The 2019 UX is expected to arrive at the beginning of next year.