2021 Lexus UX 200 F SPORT Review by Ben Lewis

In marketing terms, UX is the shorthand for “User Experience”. So, it seems a natural question, does Lexus’ smallest Crossover/SUV give you the user experience luxury buyers expect? Let’s take a look.

Familiar Sporty Style

Look at the UX and you can see the family resemblance with the larger NX and RX crossovers. That’s a good thing – Lexus has really crafted its own style now, and these vehicles are modern and sporty with sharp angles and aggressive lines.

Like our recent review of the Lexus ES250 AWD, the front end has that massive spindle grille, but like the ES, we must be getting used to it – we liked the in-your-face energy of it. Signature L-shaped driving lights and Bi-LED headlight give an angry, imposing look. Adding to the energy, our tester was an F SPORT model adding LED fog lights, L-shaped chrome moldings, cornering lamps and a tough-looking mesh pattern on the grille.

The profile is equally sporty – the smaller wheelbase takes those Lexus sharp angular lines, and really makes them pop. Giving it added macho, there’s plastic wheel arch moldings, which frame substantial-looking 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels.

Another F SPORT bonus are unique 18-inch, five twin-spoke aluminum alloy wheels that not only look the business, but Lexus points out they’re more rigid than standard UX wheels, for added responsiveness and handling agility.

At the rear “Aero Stabilizing Blade Lights” span across the vehicle and look upscale and tough, while a wing-type rear spoiler adds some aero cred. Along with an F SPORT badge, a revised rear bumper and jet-black trim on the rear moldings finish off the look.

Our tester was finished off in a reserved-looking Nebula Gray Pearl which we liked, but there’s a wide range of colors, including Cadmium Orange, Nori Green Pearl or Ultra Sonic Blue Mica. Sad news, the rich chocolate brown called Autumn Shimmer has fallen and blown away like Autumn leaves. Adieu.

The Full Lexus Treatment

Like the outside, the interior leaves no doubt you’re in a Lexus. And a sporty one at that. When you consider how compact the UX is, it is impressive how much luxury they can get inside. The first thing that catches your eyes are the bright red seats, with ultra-supportive sport seats up front. If that’s a little over the top, you can also get a more reserved color, but we like the red!

Settle into the driver’s seat and you’re greeted by a cowl that covers over the instrument panel and features two “ears” that give access to key features.

The display is typical F SPORT fare, with a center mounted gauge that serves up a nice big tach with digital speedo inside. Digital displays flank the center gauge, and everything looks designed for the driver. The head-up display also serves up vital info in an easy-to-read manner.

Lexus has really set the trend with great looking info-tainment displays, and on our tester the optional 10.3-inch multimedia screen looks huge, makes Apple CarPlay a joy to use – Lexus navigation is excellent too – and the 8-speaker premium audio system pumps out great sound as well.

Those hungry for the latest tech will be able to integrate standard safety features with their smartwatch, Amazon-enabled, or Google Assistant enabled device. Letting you lock/unlock the doors, start the engine, or even check the fuel level. Cool!

We love all that, but we still haven’t come to grips – literally – with the touchpad access you have to use. It’s over-responsive, fidgety and frustrating and you’re thankful for voice control of many features. Also, the center console has a mouse-like hub with push-button controls for media and such, plus a little thumbwheel for volume that you eventually get used to, but it is far from intuitive.  

The rest of the interior does its best to soothe with high-quality materials, and goodies like heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone climate controls and power tailgate. The rear seats are reasonable for adults for short trips, but with the rear seats up, cargo space is tight. This is a small vehicle, so that’s a fair trade off. Need more room? Step up to the NX model. But we think that smaller size makes driving the UX such fun, you might want to lose a couple bags of luggage (or passengers) to enjoy the good times.

Let the Good Times Roll!

The UX also surprises with an involving drive, especially with the F SPORT model. This isn’t Aunt Edna’s rolling couch on wheels!

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that kicks out 169 horsepower – which doesn’t sound like a lot, but this is a small vehicle.

Those wanting more power and efficiency might want to pony up for the UX 250h hybrid which gives more oomph with 181 horsepower. The non-hybrid like our tester is front wheel drive, while the hybrid is AWD, so that may also help you choose.

We were very happy with our front-drive tester and found that keeping it in Sport Mode really brightened up the drive. The CVT transmission does a fine job of imitating a regular automatic and responds quickly to the throttle. Sport Mode also pumps in some artificial engine sounds to the cabin, and it actually sounds great, and raises the game. It’s fun.

The snug exterior dimensions make for scalpel-like precision cutting around traffic – Lexus claims best in class turning radius – and the slightly firmer F SPORT suspension makes it fun to toss the little UX around. It ends up having a European vibe – more GTI than LEX. 

It may have that V-Dub feel, but when it comes to cruising, the baby Lexus is still a quiet comfortable CUV. Even with a short wheelbase, highway ride is pleasant and smooth. We even managed low 30 mpg’s despite tearing around a good part of the time.

Lexus continues to be a leader in safety equipment and the UX is well equipped including 10 air bags and the expected tech like Pre-collision with pedestrian and cyclist alerts, lane departure with steering assist and road sign assist. New for 2021, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are now standard on all UX trims. You feel well looked after.

Little Lexus Little Price?

Well, all things are relative. The UX line starts at $33,000. That’s loads of luxury for a reasonable price. Stepping up to the F SPORT like our tester bumps you up to $34,900, also a good value for the enhanced exterior, sporty interior and added features.

Our tester was loaded and added the F SPORT luxury package ($2,390), Head Up Display ($500), Navi system with 10.3-inch Display ($2,200), Intuitive Parking Assist ($565), and Wireless Charger ($75). Add in $1,025 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $41,655.

There’s some interesting competition out there, and we’d include the Mazda CX-5 Signature at $39,175 which features a powerful 250 horse turbo motor and AWD. It’s also a great value, but you will be swapping Lexus cache for Mazda, if that matters to you. Going for a European brings you an Audi Q3 at $42,640. We also liked the new Toyota RAV4 Prime,  but that’s a big step up to $49,766!

We’d say the UX is competitively priced and is especially attractive when you add in the Lexus ownership experience, reputation for reliability and quality, and excellent resale value.

Looking for a great User Experience (UX)? The 2021 Lexus UX200 F SPORT brings Lexus style, luxury and a great drive in a friendly fun-size package!