Conventional wisdom has held that Millennials are less interested in buying cars than the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who came before them.
But according to the latest analysis by Experian
, Americans born between 1980 and 2000 accounted for all new-vehicle sales growth in North America during the first quarter of 2018.
That bodes well for the all-new 2019 Lexus UX, which North America first saw at the New York International Auto Show in March
and was released to the automotive media this week. When it begins to hit dealerships at the end of the year, this innovative compact luxury crossover will take aim squarely at this younger demographic. It could well be not only their first Lexus, but also their first luxury vehicle.
“The Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving,” says Chika Kako, executive vice president of Lexus International and the chief engineer of the UX. “It will appeal to buyers in their 30s who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.”
The UX’s design team was guided by its name: Urban + X-over (crossover) = UX. This new formula has given rise to a vehicle that delivers “elegant performance,” a blend of quick and engaging driving feel with Lexus’ distinctively smooth demeanor.
From the Ground Up
How has Lexus pulled off this balancing act? Like all of its vehicles, the answer to that question begins with engineering.
Most notably, the UX is the first Lexus built on the brand’s new Global Architecture – Compact (GA-C) platform. It combines a super-rigid structure with an extremely low center of gravity and highly refined suspension tuning that optimizes handling agility and ride comfort.
“I wanted to positively overturn the image of a crossover with a high body that requires careful maneuvering, and offer a vehicle that’s as easy to drive as a hatchback,” says Kako.
Kako’s structural rigidity objectives have been met in part due to the use of high-tensile steel, high-strength adhesives and laser screw welding. Contributing to the UX’s car-like handling is a low center of gravity, aided by aluminum side doors, fenders and hood and a composite tailgate.
The UX’s suspension employs MacPherson struts in the front and a multilink approach in the rear, buttressed with an upper strut brace and Lexus’ Active Cornering Assist system, integrated with Vehicle Stability Control.
Power is delivered in one of two ways:
- UX 200 — Featuring a new 169-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, it’s mated with Lexus’ new 10-speed Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission that delivers quicker acceleration at the low end without sacrificing fuel efficiency at the high end. Combined fuel economy is estimated to be 33 mpg, which places the UX among the best in the crossover segment.
- UX 250h —The fourth generation of the Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain generates a total system output of 175 horsepower and is equipped with standard all-wheel drive. The UX250h will introduce several new features when equipped with navigation, including Predictive Eco Drive Control that analyzes driving habits and expected road and traffic conditions to optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery. Combined fuel economy is estimated to be 38 mpg, which is more than any crossover, luxury or non-luxury, without a plug.
From the Outside In
The UX’s dynamic exterior and interior complement this innovative underlying technology. Kako says the overall design theme was to crossbreed the secure, robust look of an armored vehicle with the athletic stance of a racecar.
This can be seen in such exterior styling cues as:
- Body panels refined by takumi modelers to within .01 millimeter, pushing the limits of current body-stamping processes
- Aero Stabilizing Blade Lights that contribute to vehicle stability when cornering and driving in crosswinds
- Standard five-spoke 18-inch aluminum wheels
- A choice of 12 exterior colors, including the all-new Cadmium Orange and Nori Green
- Standard bi-LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights
- Standard aluminum roof rails
The same intense attention to detail carries through to the interior. Kako drew on her extensive experience in materials development and time spent working in Europe to develop an uncluttered “less is more” approach that makes the UX feel inviting and accessible.
- A “seat-in-control” driver’s cockpit, with a three-spoke steering wheel carried over from the LS
- A wide choice of interior colors, including four variations on the standard model (includes two new colors: Birch and Birch with Lapis)
- Lexus Climate Concierge that automatically optimizes interior temperature comfort
- Four USB ports that enable driver and passengers to use and recharge mobile devices, plus optional wireless charge
- The Lexus Enform multimedia system enhanced by Apple CarPlay®, Amazon Alexa®, SiriusXM® and WiFi hotspot
And, of course, the new UX takes advantage of a wide array of advanced safety technology, including the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. The latest version of the safety suite adds road sign assist, bicyclist detection, low-light pedestrian detection and lane tracing assist.
Look for the UX 200 to begin arriving at Lexus dealerships nationwide in December and the UX 250h to follow in January.