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2019 Lexus UX 200 and 250h

Frank Washington | 10/29/2018, 11:21 a.m.
Lexus is a conservative auto brand but it seems to have thrown that philosophy out the door when it comes ...

Lexus is a conservative auto brand but it seems to have thrown that philosophy out the door when it comes to its new UX small crossover.

First the UX is the luxury brand’s fifth and smallest CUV. They account for almost 70 percent of its sales. Thus, creating another one for a market dominated by crossovers is not necessarily a risk.

But very name badge denotes the target customer. U stands for urban and X denotes crossover. The two letters equal urban crossover. I don’t know of any luxury auto brand that so overtly goes after this market. To be candid, urban used to mean black and it used to mean poor but not anymore.

Although they say they want to appeal to young buyers, Lexus wants the UX to be relevant to their lifestyles. That is psychographic and it means urban black, white and Spanish speaking buyers. That is unabashedly aggressive, open and it just might be really smart.

I’ll never forget what a marketing executive told me years ago. You can place an ad in a general market publication and get some response from your ethnic target buyers. But place the same ad in media that they read or watch and it says I’m talking to you.

The Lexus UX will have a digital launch involving social media, internet advertising and marketing when it goes on sale at the end of the year and that tells me they intend to speak directly to their target buyers.

What they’re trying to sell is the 2019 Lexus UX 200 and Lexus UX 250h.They are both small luxury crossovers with wheelbases of 103.9 inches, an overall length of 177 inches and a width of 72.4 inches. With or without roof rails or shark fin antennae, they stand at roughly 60-inches tall.

The UX 200 will go on sale in December. It had a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that made 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The UX 250h is the hybrid. With its 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine and two electric generators, it makes a total of 181 horsepower.

The gasoline UX 200 had a 10-speed direct shift CVT while the hybrid UX 250 gets a two motor-generator hybrid transmission with planetary power-split device (read CVT).

Anyway, Lexus takes another risk, I think, with what goes where. The gasoline engine powered UX 200 has front wheel drive only and the Hybrid UX 250h has all-wheel-drive only. What’s more, Lexus expects sales to be 50-50. Most often automakers do not plan for the hybrid to sell the same as the gasoline powered version of any vehicle but Lexus does.

No matter which vehicle consumers choose they will get a Lexus with the distinct spindle grille with a UX twist. It featured a new block-shaped mesh pattern with individual elements that gradually changed in shape as they radiated out from the central Lexus emblem. The grille created a three-dimensional appearance that changed with the viewing angle, said Lexus. I don’t know about that, it looked the same to me and that was good from any angle.