As virtually every other body style languishes in sales doldrums, the demand for SUVs remains insatiable. Lexus already has a fleet of both traditional SUVs (GX and LX) and car-based crossovers (NX and RX), but it found room in its lineup for one more. Behold the Lexus UX, the Toyota luxury brand’s smallest-ever crossover.
The UX debuts at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, and until then, Lexus doesn’t want to say much about it. Aside from releasing one photo, Lexus promised a low center of gravity that should benefit handling. That’s probably the result of a low ride height, so don’t expect the UX to have any off-road ability. Lexus also described the UX as a “gateway model” that will lure new customers.
Lexus first showed the UX as a concept car in 2016, but the styling has been significantly watered down for production. Like most recent Lexus models, the UX will likely prove controversial thanks to its massive “spindle” grille and other unorthodox styling details. The original UX concept featured “kinetic” seats that automatically adjusted in response to the occupant’s weight and external forces, plus holographic displays. Don’t expect either feature to make it to production, though.
Under the skin, the UX will likely share a platform with the Toyota C-HR. In the United States, the C-HR is sold only with front-wheel drive. It will be interesting to see if that’s also the case with the UX, as all-wheel drive is typically considered essential for any self-respecting crossover. Full specifications will be revealed at Geneva, but we do know that Lexus trademarked the names UX 200, UX 250, and UX 250h last year. That indicates three powertrain options, including a hybrid (Lexus uses a lowercase “h” to denote hybrid models).
The Lexus UX will compete against other mini luxury crossovers, such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, as well as the GLA-derived Infiniti QX30 and the Buick Encore.
Lexus will reveal further details on the UX at its 2018 Geneva Motor Show press conference March 6. Once the UX goes on sale, expect Lexus to head in the opposite direction and launch a production version of the much larger LF-1 Limitless concept as a range-topping flagship crossover.
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