What's the used Lexus UX estate like?
Foolish would be the mainstream manufacturer that doesn’t carry a family SUV in its range these days. Lexus seemed to cater pretty well for the affluent classes after a large SUV and a luxury SUV – with its NX and RX models – but it took until the arrival of this UX in 2019 before it could snap up sales in the smaller class from families eager to sample its intriguing blend of petrol-electric, hybrid-powered opulence.
It certainly looks the part. It shares the creases and eye-catching style of its larger siblings but is better proportioned. Its hybrid drive means its rivals encapsulate both petrol and diesel family SUVs, and its reputation for luxury and reliability put it firmly into the premium market sector.
Under its origami-style bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor, producing a combined power output of 182bhp. It is a self-charging hybrid, rather than a plug-in one, and therefore can run for only short distances on electric power alone. A four-wheel-drive version, the E4, is available, with an extra electric motor driving the rear wheels.
Trim levels start with the standard level, which is reasonably well equipped, to which you then add a series of packs. It’s with these Premium, Premium Plus or Tech and Sound Packs that you start to build in the luxuries that count. For instance, the Premium Plus Pack includes leather seats, privacy glass, bigger 18in alloy wheels, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, keyless entry and a powered tailgate. The Tech and Sound pack includes parking sensors, electric seats and a high-end hi-fi. The standalone trim F-Sport costs roughly the same as the standard UX with a Premium Plus Pack fitted, but still doesn't come quite as well equipped. You do get unique features, though, including sports suspension, sports seats and a black grille, bumpers and side sills. Takumi spec is focused on luxury and is equipped with a larger, 10.3in infotainment screen with DVD player, an upgraded sound system, head-up display, leather upholstery and a sunroof.
On the road, the UX is smother than a diesel, although it can grow noisy when you accelerate hard, due to the workings of its CVT gearbox. There’s also a fair amount of wind and road noise at motorway speeds. It always feels solidly planted, though, even if its ride, which is comfortable most of the time, can grow crashy on larger bumps and road imperfections. The steering is light and fairly precise, while its cornering abilities, though unlikely to please a keen driver, are business-like rather than athletic. It would be fair to say that most of its rivals offer more enjoyment to the driver via more agile and nimble setups.
Inside, the driving position is excellent, and the seats, especially the sports seats in the F Sport trim, very comfortable. You sit lower than you do in some SUVs, and visibility is reasonable - all options come with a rear-view camera as standard.
You’d expect a Lexus to feel plush inside and to a certain degree the UX does, although there are one of two scratchier plastics on display than you’d find in the firm’s more expensive models. Another major sticking point, common to other Lexus models, is the UX’s infotainment system. The standard 7.0in screen is tiny by class standard, and both it and the optional 10.3in display are of low resolution next to the sharp and clear screens found in nearly every other rival. The menus are overly complicated, too, and the whole thing fiddly to use, especially on the move.
Space up front is good, but rear-seat space is very compromised. There’s less space in the back than most of its rivals. The boot is usefully square but terribly small, especially for this class of car.
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