“USER experience” — a phrase coined by design types to describe how a human interacts with a product. And as with most business-speak, it has been turned into an acronym: UX.
Over at Lexus, however, they have a different view. To Lexus, UX means “Urban Crossover”, and their new baby SUV. It will slot in the model range underneath the popular NX and larger RX when it goes on sale early next year.
Lexus could have paid a little more attention to User Experience, though, because its infotainment systems are famously fiddly and hard to navigate, and the Lexus UX does nothing to dispel that idea.
It’s operated by the Lexus Remote Touch Interface – a touchpad situated between the front two seats, next to the drive selector. You can swipe and double tap as you would on a smartphone, and it can even recognise capital letters so you can write in names and the like with your finger. But the set-up is not intuitive and systems from German rivals BMW, Audi and Mercedes are much simpler to operate, and have clearer and quicker graphics.
And that’s a shame because if you can look beyond the infotainment system, you’ll find a striking premium SUV that really stands out, even against the likes of the BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
If you love the in-your-face grille, the sharp creases across the bodywork and those rear lights that stretch all across the bootlid, then there’s more to captivate your attention on the inside.
You couldn’t call the Lexus UX interior understated. It’s beautifully made with expensive-feeling materials and thanks to Lexus’ well-known high standards of craftsmanship, it will probably still look like new in a decade.
From the name — UX, Urban Crossover — you may deduce (correctly) that this SUV doesn’t pretend to be an off-roader
Most of the myriad buttons are all angled slightly towards the driver, making them easily reachable. And they have a reassuringly high-quality feel to them, too. Lexus has made a name for itself for reliability, and we’d wager there’s little chance of that being any different with the UX.
Exact specifications have yet to be revealed but you will be able to choose from a range of cloth, leather or part-leather interiors. New for the Lexus UX is the option of a trim made to look like Japanese paper, or you can opt for a leather-like finish similar to those found in the Lexus LC coupé and LS saloon cars.
Going back to the name — UX, Urban Crossover — you may deduce (correctly) that this SUV is designed for the city and doesn’t pretend to be an off-roader. While you will be able to choose four-wheel drive, a two-wheel drive version will be available and in the UK it will be available only as a hybrid — a 2-litre petrol engine combining with an electric motor.
Fuel economy is decent but not spectacular. In real-world conditions, you can expect around 50mpg for the 2WD car, although that drops to nearer 40mpg for the 4×4 UX.
It is comfortable to drive — the car doesn’t judder or shake when you go over potholes, and you don’t hear much in the way of road, wind or engine noise when you are on the motorway. The hybrid CVT system doesn’t roar or whine when you accelerate like it does in some hybrid cars, and around town the car feels nippy, able to dart in and out of traffic and can be quite fun to drive, in fact.
Lexus UX prices have yet to be revealed but expect it to cost from around £30,000. That could make it a bit more expensive across the range than some of its alternatives. Even so, it’s still likely to be Lexus’s most popular model when it goes on sale in January.
So if you love the looks, don’t hate the infotainment, want something other than the usual German and Swedish fare and are ready to go hybrid, the Lexus UX is the posh junior crossover for you.
Lexus UX rivals
Price £27,630 – £36,300
Price £29,010 – £37,320
Price £27,915 – £38,215