Lexus Makes it Official: New UX Debuts as Millennial Focused Entry Crossover

“Creative Urban Explorer” to launch at $32,000,

by on Sep.12, 2018

Lexus is looking to court the first round of millennial buyers hard with the new UX crossover.

The Baby Boomers built Lexus into one of the powerhouse brands of the American luxury car market, but there comes a time to move on, it seems, and the high-line arm of Toyota Motor Corp. is shifting focus to millennials with the official debut of its new UX “Urban eXplorer.”

The smallest model in an expanding line-up of crossover-utility vehicles, the base, 2019 Lexus UX 200 will start at $32,000 when it rolls into U.S. showrooms in December, with the hybrid UX 250h tacking on another $2,000.

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“The Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving,” said Chika Kako, executive vice president of Lexus International and chief engineer of the UX. “We designed the UX to appeal to young buyers who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.”

Lexus has been struggling with success during the last decade. It connected with Baby Boomers in a big way, that generation helping it topple European giants BMW and Mercedes-Benz several times in the annual sales sweepstakes. But it has had far more trouble winning over Gen-Xers and the massive millennial generation just starting to move into the luxury segment.

(Lexus shows of new “urban explorer” at the New York auto show. Click Here for the story.)

The new Lexus UX comes in two trim levels the 200 or the 250h, above, which is the hybrid model.

The luxury brand has taken several steps to win those younger generations over, starting with the more aggressive design symbolized by the now-standard Lexus spindle grille. It has also been tinkering with its product line-up. The old CT hybrid never really connected with younger buyers, however, despite their interest in green technology. Now, the maker is hoping the edgier design of the UX will work magic.

The new, pint-sized crossover targets a segment that has become one of the fastest-growing worldwide, and is beginning to take off in the U.S., with an array of competitors expected to flood in over the next several years.

While the UX slots into the crossover segment, Lexus officials say they didn’t just want another two-box design. “I wanted to positively overturn the image of a crossover and offer a car with nimble performance and excellent maneuverability that makes it as easy to drive as a sedan,” said Kako.

The Lexus UX made its debut as a concept model at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, an essentially production-ready version reappearing at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

The rear of the new Lexus 200 reveals that it certainly related to other crossovers in the Lexus line-up.

(Click Here for more about Lexus downsizing with new UX crossover.)

In its original show car form, the UX featured what some critics called a “flood” of angles and edges, Lexus clearly listening to potential customers to help it come up with the right level for production

Two versions of the crossover will be offered, including the front-wheel-drive UX 200, featuring a 2.0-liter inline-four gas powertrain paired with a 10-speed Direct Shift CVT. To pull in more green-minded buyers, there will also be the UX 250h. It opts for a high-efficiency version of that 2.0-liter engine and uses the fourth-generation Lexus hybrid system to deliver power to all four wheels.

Lexus hopes to avoid having the UX seen as an “entry” model, using packaging and technology to give it a more upscale feel. The interior is one of the more roomy in its segment and it offers such niceties as fold-down grocery bag hooks in the cargo area. There’s also an optional tailgate control that can be activated with a waggle of the foot under the rear bumper.

The interior of the new UX reveals the crossovers expansive use of technology.

The cabin features controllable LED lighting in the footwells, glovebox and cargo area and on the air vents on high-line models of the UX, mirror optics make the controls appear to be floating in space.

(To see more about the debut of the UX at the Geneva Motor Show, Click Here.)

Technology is, of course, a critical selling point for younger buyers and the Lexus UX offers a standard 7-inch multimedia display, with an optional 10.25-inch system available for those who order navigation. Apple CarPlay will be standard, and a variety of vehicle functions, including door locks and remote engine start, will be operable through a smartwatch, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Connected features also include the Lexus Enform system and an onboard 4G LTE hotspot.

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