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2020 Lexus UX Review

LIKES
  • Good looks outside
  • Inside, too
  • Frugal UX Hybrid
  • Android Auto added this year
DISLIKES
  • Short on power
  • Transmission can drone
  • Cramped interior
  • Price climbs with options
BUYING TIP
  • The 2020 Lexus UX hybrid is a miserly choice, but it comes only with all-wheel drive.


The 2020 Lexus UX is a spacious, fuel-efficient crossover SUV with standout styling.

Edgy styling isn’t the only thing that makes the 2020 Lexus UX stand out in the fiercely competitive field of luxe-lite small crossovers. 

The 2020 UX is a strong choice for those with the budget, if not necessarily the garage space, for a pint-size SUV with features more commonly found in larger vehicles. This year’s newly standard Android Auto compatibility bolsters the UX’s TCC Rating of 6.3 out of 10. 

Lexus offers the UX in base, Premium, and F Sport trims, either as the front-wheel-drive UX 200 or as the all-wheel-drive hybrid UX 250h.

Base cars use a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at just 169 horsepower to send power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). UX 250h versions use a different inline-4 paired with dual electric motors on each axle and a special CVT for a smidge more power, better performance, and impressive fuel economy. No UX is thirsty, but UX 250hs tickle 40 mpg in most driving, and can exceed that heady figure with a light touch.

The UX has sharp lines and pert dimensions. Though the UX is just three inches shorter than the original Lexus RX, modern safety and feature demands mean it’s not particularly spacious. Front-seat riders are treated to good room, while rear-seat riders have to squeeze through tight door openings. Cargo space is just so-so, but at least furnishings are a step above most crossovers. Just don’t look for leather upholstery as Lexus instead offers a convincing synthetic hide instead. 

The UX shines in most ways, but not in its user interface—a great irony considering its name. The automaker’s infotainment tech adds Android compatibility to last year’s Apple CarPlay but does nothing to fix its kludgy controls and menu-intensive displays. 

On the flip side, the UX is an exceptionally safe choice that boasts excellent crash-test scores in every configuration and doesn’t force buyers to pay extra for active safety features. Some rivals have caught up on this regard, but not all.

The UX is a sharp choice in most ways, but watch its price tag as it makes the most sense below $40,000.

Styling
The Lexus UX is a styling standout among small crossover SUVs.

If curves are your thing, look elsewhere. The 2020 Lexus UX has nary a soft surface on its crisp, toned, sharp bod. We rate it at 6 out of 10 for its stylish exterior, which helps move the automaker’s bold styling in a more refined direction. 

The UX is nothing if not adventurous. The latest take on Lexus’ signature spindle-style grille is as pinched as ever here, but its surface detailing is a cut above what we typically see at this price. LED headlights strike like lightning into the plastic bumper, and their sharp appearance is mirrored at the tail with small red fins that look like an evolution of Detroit’s best. In fact, it’s the UX’s rear end that pleases us the most for the way it cohesively ties the UX’s elements together.

Inside, the UX doesn’t stand out from the rest of the Lexus lineup. That’s mostly a good thing, as long as many buttons and intersecting lines work for you. The 7.0-inch screen that holds court in front of the driver is stretched to 8.0 inches on the F Sport trim. Piano key-like buttons sit below a widescreen display on the center stack that’s as large as 10.3 inches if you’ve selected the optional navigation system.

Performance
The 2020 Lexus UX is as engaging as it needs to be, though we had higher hopes for the F Sport.

Lexus doesn’t try anything dramatically different underneath its 2020 UX crossover. Its familiar engines, transmissions, and optional hybrid tech are exactly what we expect, though its ride is a pleasant surprise. 

We rate the 2020 Lexus UX at 5 out of 10 for its performance.

The UX comes in three basic configurations: UX 200 with a 169-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 paired with either front- or all-wheel drive, or UX 250h with a different 2.0-liter inline-4 teamed with hybrid tech for a little more power (176 hp) and a lot better fuel economy. Don’t look for a UX 250h without all-wheel drive, though. You won’t find one.
No matter what’s underhood, the UX pulls away from a stop with little enthusiasm. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) features a fixed first gear to ease acceleration before switching over to unlimited ratio mode to save fuel. Ten preset ratios help the CVT mostly behave like a conventional automatic, though we’re not entirely fooled. 

Acceleration is modest with a claimed 0-60 mph sprint of just under 9 seconds for the UX 200 and a smidge faster for the hybrid. UX F Sports come with paddle shifters to help make the most of the gearbox, though their real usefulness comes while descending hills. 

The UX 250h is the only all-wheel-drive version of Lexus’ smallest crossover. Its dual electric motors -- one on each axle -- give it terrific slippery-road traction.

Underneath, the electric power steering, front struts, and rear multilink suspension emphasize ride quality over handling. The UX corners confidently, with four drive modes that tweak steering heft a discernible amount. F Sports have slightly stiffer suspension and sway bar settings, though they still ride soft enough to manage urban potholes well.

Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Lexus UX is spacious for a small crossover SUV.

For a small crossover SUV that rides on a mere 104-inch wheelbase, the 2020 Lexus UX is accommodating inside. We grant it points above average for its good front seats and one for cargo space, which brings it to 7 out of 10 on our scale.

The UX comes standard with power-adjustable front seats that offer good head room without the optional sunroof but just shy of 36 inches of head room with it. Rear-seat riders get just 33.1 inches of leg room, which isn’t very good on paper but feels slightly more spacious in reality and boasts a fold-down armrest plus twin USB ports. Narrow rear doors confound matters. 

Cargo room stands at 17.1 cubic feet with the rear seat upright in hybrids thanks to their battery packs, though the standard NX 200 has nearly 5 cubes more storage space.

Materials throughout are intriguing, with washi tape-texture trim on most versions. Bright and innovative interior hues give a more bucks-up feel than in most rivals, too.

Safety
Excellent crash-test scores and a wide array of collision-avoidance tech make the 2020 Lexus UX a safe choice.

The 2020 Lexus UX has aced most crash tests and it comes standard with good active safety features. That’s enough to earn it 8 out of 10 points on our scale.

The NHTSA rates the 2020 UX at five stars overall, albeit with four stars for frontal collision and four stars in the calculated rollover assessment. The IIHS heaps on even more praise: a Top Safety Pick+ award thanks to “Good” results in every crash test, and similarly glowing reviews for its headlights and its collision-avoidance features. Only an “Acceptable” mark for the crossover’s child seat harnesses holds it back from a coveted perfect overall assessment. 

Every UX comes standard with active safety features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors are optional and are newly paired with rear cross-traffic alerts this year.
loaading...
Outward vision is about average.

Features
The 2020 Lexus UX is well-equipped, though we have little praise for its infotainment system.

At around $33,500 to start, the 2020 Lexus UX is priced about like its rivals and is generally equipped a little better in base form. It’s available in base, Luxury, and F Sport trims, and we score it extra points for its good standard feature set and for its warranty—but take one back for its infotainment system, for a 6 here.

The base UX comes with power features, dual-zone automatic climate control, and synthetic leather upholstery. Most UXs are likely to have the $1,675 Premium Package that adds a moonroof, heated and cooled front seats, blind-spot monitors, and upgraded interior trim. That’s money well spent, and it’s about where we’d stop.

The UX Luxury runs nearly $5,000 more, and for that money it adds a power liftgate, blind-spot monitors, and a few additional features on top of the Premium Package. Just don’t look for leather upholstery as it’s not available. 

Lexus bundles an upsized 10.3-inch screen with navigation, though all versions come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A center console-mounted touchpad serves as the primary interface, and it’s one user experience that doesn’t live up to the crossover’s UX name. The touchpad and other controls are tucked where they’re hard to see, making matters even worse.

The UX 250h is equipped about like the standard UX, albeit for about $2,000 more thanks to its standard all-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy
The 2020 Lexus UX is an eco-friendly choice in hybrid form.

The base 2020 Lexus UX 200 is fairly fuel-efficient, but spending more for the all-wheel-drive UX 250h may pay out quickly for some drivers.

We rate the lineup at 6 out of 10, and it’s worth noting that all versions were tested by the EPA using less expensive regular unleaded fuel. Most of the UX’s rivals require premium fuel.

The base UX 200 is rated at 29 mpg city, 37 highway, 33 combined. The UX 250h hybrid sends power to all four wheels but sips fuel at an impressive 41/38/39 mpg.


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About Udara Madusanka

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