2021 Lexus UX200 F Sport First Test: Experience or Appliance?

Your telephone, laptop computer, smartwatch, heck, even your smart audio system are all a large ache within the neck. Not for you, however for the individuals who made them. Consumer expertise and interface designers agonize over merchandise for months and even years to ship an intuitive person expertise, and also you at all times discover after they haven’t. It’s the identical story for vehicles just like the 2021 Lexus UX200 F Sport.

Engineers spend numerous hours working by way of limitless permutations of designs to allow them to get the little issues just like the detent on that quantity knob simply proper. It’s all a part of an limitless quest to fulfill the person. So after we see the letters “U” and “X” arrive emblazoned on the rump of a small subcompact luxurious Lexus SUV, the expectation is a satisfying person expertise. The one downside is that isn’t fairly what the Lexus UX200 delivers.



This miniaturized SUV belies each the standard and the satisfaction a Lexus badge usually guarantees, and the issues begin with the UX’s pee-wee powertrain. Its 2.0-liter I-Four makes 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, which makes the Lexus one of many slowest autos we examined in 2020. At 8.9 seconds to 60 mph, it’s slower than a lot cheaper compact SUVs such because the Mazda CX-30, the bottom Kia Seltos, and even the Hyundai Venue SEL (which makes 48 hp much less).

Typically a automobile feels faster in the actual world than its check numbers would depart you to imagine. Sadly, that’s not the case right here. The UX feels simply as breathless on the street as it’s on the dragstrip. Merging onto freeways or passing on open roads calls for you bury your proper foot into the carpet. At that time, the little four-banger shoots to its 6,600-rpm redline and stays there in a perpetual shriek that’s about as satisfying as utilizing a sandpaper Q-tip.

There are not any two methods about it: This can be a sluggish automobile, and regardless of the F Sport badge, there’s little redemption when the going will get twisty. The UX’s all-season tires surrender grip shortly, and its 27.9-second figure-eight time at a 0.60 g common rank it close to the underside of all of the autos we examined final 12 months. The Mazda CX-9, a correct three-row SUV that weighs three-quarters of a ton greater than the UX, logged a quicker lap and a better common g than the Lexus managed.

As for the UX, street check editor Chris Walton discovered the steering moderately exact on the restrict however bemoaned the UX’s “10-speed” CVT, saying it was “sluggish to reply and kick all the way down to a correct ratio.” The transmission doesn’t have “gears,” as such, however it emulates numerous simulated ratios, and for many of my driving the CVT was in too low of a “gear,” even in Regular mode. I resorted to placing the automobile in Eco mode for almost all of my driving simply to maintain the revs down and the engine-sound out of the cabin.

We famous points with the throttle map on the previous UX we tested, however some software program adjustments to the 2021 mannequin have, fortunately, made the throttle response extra linear and simpler to modulate. Dynamically, although, that’s the solitary vivid spot for the UX, and it’s not a very praiseworthy one.

Fortunately, the experience gives some reduction from the lackluster powertrain of the Lexus. Over small lumps and fissures within the street, the UX may be crashy, however all in all, it rides effectively over most any floor and is extra comfy than rivals such because the Mercedes GLB and Jaguar E-Pace. A giant a part of that consolation is all the way down to the superb F Sport seats. They’re supportive, heated, cooled, and trimmed in a luscious leather-based that makes spending time in them the most effective a part of the entire automobile.

The remainder of the inside, however, is essentially the place the person expertise falls flat. One instance: Simply beneath the crisp, vivid infotainment show is a well-organized row of HVAC buttons, however the possibility to show the A/C on and off is buried below three menus. Plus, Lexus’ finicky touchpad makes getting there tough. Even after Lexus spent years refining and iterating on the system, it nonetheless isn’t as intuitive or as correct because the management knob supplied by a lot of the German competitors.

The amount knob is positioned on a cool, flat spar that juts out from the middle console. It’s alleged to be simple to make use of in case your hand is resting on the lid of the console itself, and it’s not essentially an issue by itself. However after you have a passenger and their elbow takes up the precise place your arm must be in to make use of the quantity knob correctly, the phantasm that that is one way or the other extra intuitive or extra attention-grabbing than a typical quantity knob falls aside. That and the remainder of the bodily controls positioned on that spar change into unusable.

The steering wheel is far too massive for a automobile of this dimension, and although the column is electrically powered, it doesn’t telescope out far sufficient. The little bit of plastic on the high of the instrument cluster creaked incessantly in our check automobile, and the display decision within the cluster itself doesn’t maintain a candle to the likes of Mercedes’ MBUX and Audi’s Digital Cockpit. After which there’s the extreme wind buffeting—even with each driver-side home windows down, there’s a literal twister whipping round at the back of the cabin. You may mitigate it by decreasing the rear passenger’s facet window, however at that time, you would possibly as effectively be driving a convertible.

The rear cargo space solely has 17 cubic toes of free area accessible (that’s lower than a Hyundai Veloster), and there’s a middling quantity of legroom and headroom accessible to second-row passengers. Now, I do know what you’re considering. Right here comes Johnny Auto Journalist, choosing aside one more SUV as a result of we’re taught to hate them. However you’d be improper. There are many SUVs, compact or in any other case, that we genuinely love.

On its face, the UX200 ought to be an equipment, a generalist car that takes you from A to B with out trouble. Like your smartphone, it ought to be nice to make use of while you want it to be and out of your approach while you don’t. Lexus’ quest to make it an “expertise” with its, erm, eye-catching exterior seems to be and fussy inside design has solely packed it stuffed with compromise.

The person expertise that I talked about earlier, the one which designers and engineers fret over, the one which separates good merchandise from dangerous ones, merely doesn’t excel right here. The UX is inconvenient at its greatest and downright irritating at its worst, and for $41,655 there is no such thing as a approach to justify it.

2021 Lexus UX200 F Sport
BASE PRICE $35,925
VEHICLE LAYOUT Entrance-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/169-hp/151-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,278 lb (61/39%)
WHEELBASE 103.9 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 177.Zero x 72.Four x 59.Eight in
0-60 MPH 8.9 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.Eight sec @ 85.Three mph
BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH 120 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.9 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 116/91 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.60 lb/mile

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