Given the ease of accessing anything online from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, it’s easy to forget how long it once took to pay a bill.
First, you’d examine the charges and match them to your receipts. Then you’d write out a check, and put it in an envelope onto which you affixed a stamp. Next, you schlepped to the post office to mail it. This assumes that you don’t have to deposit money in the bank to cover your checks.
Now it’s all done digitally, and takes less time than it once took to open a bill and curse yourself for wasting money on a Patrick Nagel print.
So much in life is made easier by technology, at least when it delivers a good user experience, known in the tech world as UX — a term known by everyone under a certain age. So, given that Lexus’ new entry-level vehicle is called the UX 200, you’d expect it to deliver one.
It does, as long as you have modest expectations.
Looking more like a raised hatchback than a true SUV, the UX 200’s stance is no different from its many competitors’, including the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and Infiniti QX30. But its appearance is uniquely aggressive, thanks to Lexus’ current design direction.
The assertive wardrobe cloaks Toyota’s Global Architecture Compact (GA-C) platform that also underpins the Toyota Corolla Hatchback and Toyota C-HR. Not surprisingly, the Lexus has more than two cubic feet of additional cargo space, but less headroom due to its sportier styling.
The UX 200 also employs the C-HR’s driveline, although it’s blessed with more horsepower (169 hp vs. the C-HR’s 144 hp). However, this powertrain is offered solely with front-wheel drive. To get all-wheel drive, you must spring for the UX 200h hybrid, which starts at $2,000 more than the UX 200, but also has 181 hp, an extra 300 pounds of weight, and an extra 6 mpg in combined fuel economy (39 mpg vs. 33 mpg). Both models come with a standard continuously variable automatic transmission.
But the hybrid might not be worth the extra scratch since neither vehicle is a barn-burner off the line. The UX 200 runs from 0 to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, while the hybrid makes the same trip in 8.6 seconds. Certainly, this part of the user experience proves disappointing.
Inside, you’ll find an interior with a pleasing array of materials that ably mimic Lexus’ tonier models. The comfortably supportive seats are covered in soft leather and offer up a perfect driving position with a thick steering wheel, although the side of the center console’s hard plastic hits the driver’s right knee thanks to its fairly narrow cabin. Leg room is sufficient up front, but lacking in the rear unless the front seat passengers compromise by moving forward.
Other parts of the cabin were frustrating as well. A large cup or thermos doesn’t fit in the cup holders because of their small diameter, while a row of toggle buttons above prevents you from placing anything too tall in them. And remarkably, Lexus’ infotainment continues to be one of the finickiest offered. A touchpad controls the on-screen cursor that rarely goes where you need it to, resulting in your taking your eyes off the road for extended periods of time as you end up actuating the wrong feature. It’s extraordinarily frustrating to use.
2019 Lexus UX 200
Base price: $34,000
Price as tested: $40,615
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder
EPA fuel economy: 29 mpg city, 37 highway
Competitors: BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, Volvo XC40, Infiniti QX30
Bottom line: Delivers on modest expectations.