Lexus Seeks Younger Buyers with the All-New UX
You might notice that Lexus owners are mostly a bit more "mature." Some have been with the brand since its early days in the ‘80s, or many younger buyers simply can't afford one. On Lexus' part, it’s not for lack of trying; the brand has been working to appeal to a younger crowd for the last few years by offering more affordable, exciting designs with cutting-edge technology to their lineup. But now, they just may have found the vehicle that will get them the attention and respect of a younger generation — the all-new Lexus UX.
The UX is Lexus’ entry into the subcompact crossover space, AKA tiny crossovers that are really like sporty hatchbacks on stilts. These new crossovers aren’t exactly built for family duty, but they provide the extra ride height that most American drivers have grown to love. The UX is now the smallest crossover in Lexus’ lineup, and is the Baby Bear to the Mama Bear NX model and Papa Bear RX model. The car has loads of appeal; eye-catching design, a modern color palette, smart interior, and of course, all the latest tech you could ask for. With an available Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa integration, wireless charging, and an available hybrid powertrain, the UX checks all the boxes when it comes to what a younger buyer would want in their next vehicle.
We recently spent some time with Lexus as they explained the thought process behind the development of the UX and who the vehicle was intended for — not surprisingly, Millennials. But even after giving them their Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, is it enough? We’re not sure. Lexus is doing its best to add more appeal by taking a value approach and aiming to make it financially accessible for a young “urban explorer.” The base UX 200 model will come with a starting price of $32k, which is the least expensive Lexus you can buy, and also the average price for a vehicle in its class. The pricing also falls right in line with its biggest competitors: the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Lexus will also roll out an all-inclusive “Complete Lease” (subscription) plan in 4 major cities (Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Miami) that bundles insurance, maintenance and the lease price, all into one convenient payment.
The good news is that after all the focus on design and luxury, Lexus really delivers on driving dynamics with the UX. After driving both the 200 model and the 250h (hybrid) model, we found both versions pleasing, providing ample acceleration and solid stability through the bumps of some older, rougher European streets. If given the choice, we'd prefer the extra pickup provided by the hybrid model’s all-wheel drive. The UX was nimble and easy to maneuver through the very busy streets of Stockholm, Sweden where we test-drove the car amongst heavily populated streets with many pedestrians and cyclists. The 360-degree view camera was particularly handy when it came time to find parking. We were also extremely enamored with our test car’s smart interior. Featuring light grey/navy blue upholstery with a blue “washi” treatment across the dashboard and doors, the UX seems miles beyond its price point. Again, this is a small crossover and back seat legroom is scarce, but it was comfortable enough for me and two colleagues to get some extra sightseeing in around Stockholm.
Overall, the takeaway from the UX is that this is a car for people who are looking for luxury at a low starting price and a higher seating position on the road without sacrificing good fuel economy. Yes, it’s great for “urban adventurers” and will appeal to owners who value “flexibility [in daily life] over horsepower.” But most of all, this is a new Lexus with a starting price of $32,000 and the most fuel-efficient Lexus without a plug - 33 mpg combined for the UX200 and 38 mpg combined for the UX 250h.
The Lexus UX 200 will arrive at dealerships in December 2018 with a starting price of $32,000. The 250h will follow in January 2019, with a starting price of $34,000. F-SPORT versions of both will be available, for just $2000 more.