GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Monday, October 28, 2019


U=Urban; X=Crossover

by Kate McLeod

“Is it on?” my companion asked as we pulled out of the parking space. “Well if it isn’t, we’re in a runaway 2019 Lexus UX compact crossover,” I replied. This machine runs on monastic quietness and sips gasoline in a miserly fashion, one gallon every 40 miles or so. As much as I dig the roar of an engine, I’m transitioning to a more climate friendly POV and the UX gets pretty high marks in that space.

This 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid, with 181 total system horsepower, has enough energy off the mark to make it not only a choice for the climate conscious but a consideration-list choice for enthusiasts. UX—which sounds like the name of a cherished robot—is spunky on the highway and responsive to the demands of the driver thanks to an Electric Power Steering system with a new compact and highly rigid column-assist motor. 

The seats, upholstered in NuLuxe, a synthetic vinyl or plastic surface that aptly simulates the look and feel of leather, compliment the rest of the finely tuned interior. It’s a Japanese take on luxury—subtle, not showy. Seats can be adjusted ten ways but just slipping into the seat and making a quick adjustment to reach the pedals was enough to make me comfortable. As for NuLuxe, I’m for losing leather all together, especially since one can incur skin lesions when your flesh sticks to it on those shorts-wearing summer days.

Operations are sleek from behind the wheel. The instrument panel is lower than most creating a clear line from the dash to the front of the car. That clear line and the high seat position make for great visibility. The dash is made of what seems to be vinyl, but it has been manufactured to imitate a traditional Japanese paper called “washi” and is available in two different grains. There’s a remote touch interface connected to a seven inch screen. Simply slide your finger over the pad in the center console to make choices. The voice command system errs on the side of bearable versus annoying. The vehicle also has six speakers, and works with Apple Car Play and Siri Eyes Free.

While the UX has not received a rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, it comes with the Lexus Safety System + 2.0 Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar, cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam headlamps and road sign assist. Some of these features are optional and cost extra. Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect comes with the first 10 years of ownership. The backup camera has so much detail, it took a little bit of getting used to with a perfectly clear picture and good guidance. What an improvement over older systems and cameras.

The base price at $34,000 really surprised me. I was thinking $40K. But there are a lot of subscriptions that come with the car at first and then get renewed so there is an ongoing revenue stream for Lexus. That includes under the Lexus Enform name WiFi, Remote, GPS and Satellite Radio. In addition the fabulous triple beam LED Headlamps with Auto-Leveling and cornering are a $1,600 option and the Nav systems costs an additional $2,200. Along with $565 for parking assist and rear cross traffic alert and other add ons—no surprise—the car does cost $41,975 as outfitted. These days cars cost that much and the advances are expensive.

Overall, I like the crossover and I would recommend taking a look at it if you are in the market for a compact. Downside might be the tight back seat but it would work for little people. And I think my feelings about the front end might be generational. To me a gorgeous front end is a 1960s Buick. So you see where this is going. I don’t engage in video games and I’m not into Manga or flamboyant modern looks.

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