The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for
The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for "Urban eXplorer".

Feature-packed SUV the perfect coffee shop crusader

Consider Australia’s greatest trailblazers and the likes of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Matthew Flinders, Captain James Cook and Emily Creaghe are at the forefront of thoughts.

Lexus may not be in that realm, but its “Urban eXplorer” has certainly made a big impact on the brand over the past year.

Starting from less than $50,000 drive-away, the compact prestige SUV provides another option for those who want the ride height but not the hardcore off-roading ability, nor the expansive internal space.

It’s development was led by female chief engineer Chika Kako primarily for the empty nesters or young professionals. The UX isn’t breaking new ground, rather going into hostile territory against the German big guns of Mercedes, Audi and BMW.

The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for
The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for "Urban eXplorer".

VALUE

Base prestige models can often feel bereft of gear … and there’s a sense all your coin went into the front 15cm of the car. Not Lexus — while there are enhancement packs available there’s no skimping on standard equipment.

Choose the Luxury model straight out of the box and inclusions are 17-inch alloys, 10.3-inch screen with satnav and digital radio, eight-speaker stereo with a CD player (becoming rare), keyless entry, electric adjustable front seats, while post-November built models have smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There are 10 colours, among them are grey, silver, black, red, white and blue (choose one of the nonmetallic colours and you save $1500). Three interior colour combinations are available, ours in “white ash” was particularly striking, others on offer are cream and black.

Warranty coverage is four years or 100,000km. That’s a year short of the benchmark set by Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover. Early this year Lexus finally introduced capped price servicing, and the first three return visits to the dealer are $495 each. Servicing intervals are annual or every 15,000km.

Buying a Lexus also means entry to the “Encore” program for three years which entitles owners to a free loan car (and a range of other benefits) during services or free pick-up and return.

The Lexus UX200 Luxury comes with a strong list of features.
The Lexus UX200 Luxury comes with a strong list of features.

SAFETY

Gaining five stars last year, the UX received impressive results across the testing criteria.

The autonomous emergency braking function can apply the brakes if the driver fails to act, and also monitors for pedestrians and cyclists. Other inclusive gear is radar cruise control to main preset distances from other vehicles, traffic sign recognition to keep an eye on the speed limit, auto high beam headlights, along with rear cross traffic alert which is a boon when leaving busy carparks.

The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for
The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for "Urban eXplorer".

COMFORT

Light-coloured trim creates an opulent environment. Black is an option, but once you see the white it’s difficult to go past.

The soft artificial leather (the vegans would love it) and supportive seats envelop the occupants. Both chairs are impressively luxurious and welcoming for long journeys.

For those in the back, limited width means it’s accommodation best suiting two. There are dual USB ports, along with a pair of cup-holders in the fold-down armrest, but no bottle holders in the doors.

The now trademark Lexus mousepad style operation of the primary function provides haptic feedback when selecting menus and options. It’s not one of the better infotainment systems on the market, taking the driver’s attention away from the instruments, but the addition of the phone mirroring apps improves access on the move via the usual “Hey Siri” or Google commands.

Functionality is let down by a small boot. Just over 320 litres of space meant our weekly grocery shop spilt over to the rear seat.

One of the benefits of having a smaller boot in the base models (up-spec models have 50 litres additional capacity) is the space-saver spare whereas other variants have run-flat tyres. Our test machine had the 18-inch run-flats, which contributed to some additional road noise — not something you find in most Lexus offerings.

Our 600km journey saw average fuel consumption of 6.7 litres for every 100km.
Our 600km journey saw average fuel consumption of 6.7 litres for every 100km.

DRIVING

Across the prestige board the performance of base model compact SUVs won’t inspire your inner Daniel Ricciardo. The UX is no different. Power outputs of 126kW/205Nm from the four-cylinder petrol engine are similar to other base models in the genre.

Hard working from low in the rev range, power delivery is linear and adequate whether pulling away from the lights or merging onto the freeway.

While the four-potter is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, not typically associated with strong responses under heavy acceleration, the Lexus system is slightly different from some mainstream uses.

Initial acceleration uses only the fixed-ratio gear for a more responsive launch feel then switches to the CVT mechanism. Jump on the right pedal and there’s more noise than reaction, but most will find it adequate.

Throw the UX into a corner and it handles the job without too much body roll — not as good as a sedan, but SUVs are the flavour of the moment.

Running on standard unleaded, our 600km journey saw an average of 6.7 litres for every 100km, which is about one litre more than the official figure.

The white interior finish of the Lexus UX200 Luxury.
The white interior finish of the Lexus UX200 Luxury.

HEAD SAYS

This is all the luxury and performance I need without having to sift through a massive options list which will cost thousands more.

HEART SAYS

You had me at the seats. Sharp external styling ensures the UX gets the kudos it deserves.

ALTERNATIVES

Audi Q3 35 TFSI $51,060 drive-away

Classy and deserving of prestige status, the bigger and more robust Q3 no longer feels like an entree to the brand. Powered by an equally modest 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo, 110kW/250Nm. Misses out on some safety gear and features standard on the UX.

Mercedes-Benz GLA180 $50,486 D/A

The GLA is the segment’s biggest seller, with the entry-level model coming with a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder generating 90kW/200Nm. Also comes with a high level of infotainment and safety features.

The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for
The Lexus UX200 Luxury, which stands for "Urban eXplorer".

VERDICT

The name stands for “Urban eXplorer”, yet it manages solid all-round performance. Limited rear seat and boot space will restrict its appeal for some, yet for those in the market for a small prestige SUV will find the long standard features list
hard to resist.

AT A GLANCE

Lexus UX200 Luxury

PRICE $51,216 drive-away (good prestige value)

WARRANTY/SERVICING 4yr/100,000km warranty; $1485 for three servives (OK)

ENGINE 2.0-litre 126kW/205Nm 4-cyl , FWD (servicable)

SAFETY 5 stars, 8 airbags, AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, rear cross traffic alert (good)

THIRST 5.8 litres/100km (6.7 litres on test)

SPARE Space-saver (standard, runflats on up-spec models)

BOOT 327 litres (small, rear seats fold)



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