The UX 200 is Lexus’ all-new compact luxury crossover. Metro News Service photo

Lexus SUV family offers updates, new offerings

Crossovers and SUVs highlight the Lexus brand

SUVs are always popular. So even if there’s not much new from model year to model year, there’s always something interesting to write about. For the 2019 model year, Lexus has a whole stable of interesting SUVs; most are just refreshed models, but one is completely redesigned.

This week, I’m taking a closer look at four SUV/crossovers I’ve recently driven from Lexus. It seemed as if I was running a Lexus dealership during this timespan when I had the LX570, NX 300h, UX F-Sport and RX350 in my driveway. It gave me perspective for how good and consistent a Lexus SUV is, and why they’re so popular.

Luxury SUVs and crossovers are all the rage and it’s an area that Lexus has dominated for many years. Even their vehicles that had little to no changes from the previous model year were excellent.

LEXUS UX 200

You may have heard me mention the ever-expanding luxury subcompact crossover segment. Well, the UX is Lexus’ entry into this segment. It’s new for the 2019 model year and features both a hybrid and a regular internal combustion engine. My tester was the F-Sport version which has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a continuously variable transmission. The overall performance of this small SUV is pretty tame at 169 hp. It lacks enthusiasm but is incredibly maneuverable. The CVT is a drawback as it withholds needed power at times; the transmission seems to try to play catch-up during other shifts.

The UX’s looks suit this segment as it’s less aggressive-looking than other Lexus SUVs and has a youthful, perky appearance. The interior is exactly what you’d want and expect from a Lexus. As an introductory vehicle to the Lexus brand, which is what this is intended to be, the UX shows that it’s much more than just a glorified Toyota. For a non-hybrid, the fuel economy is pretty incredible with an EPA rating of 29 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway.

LEXUS LX570

The 2019 LX570 is largest SUV in the Lexus family, which for this model year carries over little to no changes. This stout, full-size SUV is bold in its styling. The grille is massive and has creative many love/hate reactions. I’m in the love category as I appreciate bold styling, especially with Lexus, which in the past has been criticized for being too conservative, broke loose from that with bold styling a couple model years ago.

The exterior and interior of the LX570 was outstanding. It was everything you’d want from a full-size luxury SUV. The performance was a little disappointing. The LX570 has a 5.7-liter V8 engine that creates 383 horsepower. Overall, this engine performs well, and when mated to the off-road capability, it’s quite impressive. For a big, lumbering SUV, the LX570 is quite capable off the road and in variable road conditions. This is the LX570’s big advantage over other competitors.

LEXUS NX 300H

Not a fan of the Toyota Prius but want a hybrid with some luxury? That’s the purpose of the Lexus NX 300H. This hybrid SUV epitomizes the Lexus brand in many ways with steady, consistent and somewhat conservative styling. But it also dazzles with quality touchpoints throughout. While the interior isn’t garish and the luxury isn’t in your face, even the smallest aspects of the interior show why it’s a luxury vehicle. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine generates 194 hp. It feels peppier than the aforementioned UX and still gets more than 30 mpg, on average. It won’t be as much of a fuel sipper as its cousin the Prius, but it also has nice features and better looks than the Prius. The starting MSRP is below $40,000, making this quite a value-based luxury vehicle.

LEXUS RX 350

Steady as she goes. That’s the best way to describe this mainstay of the Lexus SUV family. There were no major changes for this model year, but nevertheless, my tester impressed. It was hard to find fault with any particular area. One could argue that the RX350 is the prototypical Lexus SUV. The grille is bold, and the styling suits the SUV well. The interior is as consistent as it gets. The RX350 typifies what Lexus luxury is all about with a comfortable, quiet cabin and ample head and legroom for the rear passengers. As is the case with all the SUVs mentioned, the infotainment system is less than intuitive, as Lexus continues to offer the frustrating touchpad to navigate the system. It is not a user-friendly feature and hopefully is changed for future generations.

CONCLUSION

All these SUVs Lexus provided me to drive offered a lot of a merit. Where they are in their individual lifespan shows where Lexus has been and where it’s going. As is the case for this conservative luxury brand, being too steady and too consistent can often be misconstrued as boring. Not a single one of these SUVs can fairly be called boring.

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