Lexus has a unique rewards program that is packed full of useful and handy incentives. We test the cheapest way to access the Encore Platinum program.
The UX is Lexus’ smallest and cheapest SUV. Prices start at about $52,000 drive-away for the UX 200. This compares favourably to Mercedes-Benz’s GLA200 at $63,000, but costs more than the $49,000 Audi Q2.
We are testing the limited Crafted Edition, which is based on the cheapest UX 200, and is priced from about $58,000 drive-away.
Lexus has boosted the Crafted Edition’s street appeal with a number of styling tweaks including big 18-inch black alloy wheels, puddle lights, a moonroof and dark chrome and black exterior highlights.
A head-up display makes up for the omission of a digital instrument cluster and a wireless device charging pad is another welcome addition. A big 10.3-inch central display is compatible with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Audiophiles will appreciate the booming 13-speaker Mark Levinson system and CD player.
The UX Crafted Edition is the cheapest way into Lexus’ exclusive Encore Platinum benefits program, usually reserved for the brand’s $100,000-plus machines.
Owners can borrow top-shelf sports cars such as the LC500 coupe on four occasions for up to eight days at a time. Vehicles are available at airports and dealerships around the country, as well as New Zealand airports. Owners can use complimentary valet parking services at select shopping centres and access discounts and benefits at some of the country’s leading hotels. Lexus covers its vehicles for four years/100,000km, while a capped price servicing program costs $1485 over three years.
The Crafted Edition’s cabin is an enjoyable space. Passengers are surrounded by soft-touch materials, while the leather accented steering wheel and gear shifter feel premium.
Snug faux-leather front seats are heated and electronically adjustable and provide good support. A high seating position gives the driver a good view of the road ahead and the tall ride height makes for easier access.
The laptop-style trackpad control for the central display is fussy to use, though.
Rear leg room is tight and higher set windows make vision less than ideal for younger kids.
A decent sized boot can easily accommodate the weekly shop or a couple of travel bags, while the power tailgate is a welcome addition.
Well sorted suspension does a good job of soaking up most bumps, but can feel a little unsettled over rippled surfaces. Rougher roads elicit a bit of tyre roar and road noise.
The UX Crafted Edition has all the latest safety bells and whistles.
It’ll brake automatically if it detects a potential collision with another car, a pedestrian or cyclist.
Active safety aids will guide you back into the centre of the lane if you wander, while the car will also let you know if something is in your blind spot. If a car is approaching as you reverse out of your driveway or a tight parking spot, an alarm will sound.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine won’t set your heart alight, but its 126kW/205Nm outputs are adequate for commuting around town. It can feel a bit breathless under heavy acceleration, though.
Lexus’ CVT auto is one of the better examples, extracting the most out of the engine’s modest power reserves.
The UX is one of the better handling small SUVs on the road. It exerts great body control through corners, displaying minimal lean and impressive grip. Its compact size makes navigating inner city streets and tight carparks a breeze. Lexus claims fuel use of 5.8L/100km, but expect low 6s in the real world.
Classy small SUV fits the bill for downsizers, while ownership experience should be top class.
Audi Q2 40TFSI, from about $56,200 drive-away
Cute and charming all-wheel drive SUV lacks the cabin finesse of the Japanese brand.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 200, from about $63,000 drive-away
Slightly bigger, more powerful and luxuriously equipped. Much more expensive, though.
BMW X1 sDrive20i, from about $61,000 drive-away
Looks good but lacks the warranty and ownership benefits of the Lexus.
LEXUS UX 200 CRAFTED EDITION VITALS
Price: About $58,000 drive-away
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, 126kW/205Nm
Warranty/servicing: 4-yr/unl’td km, $1485 over three years
Safety: Auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, auto high beam, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control
Spare: Repair kit