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2021 Lexus UX Review

The 2021 Lexus UX ranks at the back of the luxury subcompact SUV class. The UX has a great predicted reliability rating, refined handling, and a premium interior, but it’s let down by its tepid engine performance and distracting infotainment system.

Pros & Cons

  • Refined ride quality and handling
  • Great fuel economy
  • High predicted reliability rating
  • Distracting infotainment controls
  • Tepid acceleration
  • Relatively small cargo area

Thinking of leasing a Lexus UX?

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Is the Lexus UX a Good SUV?

The 2021 Lexus UX is a decent luxury subcompact SUV. The UX sports an upscale interior with comfy front seats and lots of standard safety features. It feels athletic and stable around turns, it’s easy to park, and it rides smoothly over bumps and dips in the road. The UX also rates highly for predicted reliability, and it returns great fuel economy.

This Lexus isn’t without its drawbacks though. The UX accelerates slowly, and its infotainment system is distracting to use. The rear seats and cargo area are fairly cramped as well.

We review the all-wheel-drive Lexus UX Hybrid separately.

Why You Can Trust Us: 26 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 26 Lexus UX reviews, as well as data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

This 2021 UX review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2019.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Lexus UX?

The 2021 Lexus UX is worth a look if you’re shopping for a small luxury SUV but perhaps not as a top pick. There are more well-rounded alternatives in this segment, including the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Volvo XC40.

Find a 2021 Lexus UX for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Lexus UX: What's the Difference?

There’s only one key difference between the 2020 and 2021 UX models. Lexus adds blind spot monitoring to the 2021 UX’s standard features. This system was previously optional.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 UX »

Here are the key changes for the Lexus UX over the last few years:

  • 2019: all-new vehicle
  • 2020: Android Auto added to standard features list
  • 2021: blind spot monitoring now standard

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2019 UX and 2020 UX reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Lexus UX Cost?

The Lexus UX has a $32,900 starting price, which is the lowest in the luxury subcompact SUV class. The price rises to $37,600 for the well-equipped Luxury trim level.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus UX Versus the Competition

Lexus UX vs. Lexus NX

The Lexus NX is a luxury compact SUV, and it fits right above the UX in the brand’s growing SUV lineup. Both models ride smoothly over rough road surfaces and rate highly for predicted reliability. The UX and NX offer a wide range of standard safety features as well. However, both vehicles are paired with the same distracting infotainment system. Stick with the UX if you have a tighter budget. It yields better gas mileage, and its starting price is lower than the NX’s by about $4,600. On the other hand, go with the NX if you’re looking for zippier acceleration or a roomier back seat.

Compare the UX and NX »

Lexus UX vs. BMW X1

The BMW X1 ranks at the top of the luxury subcompact SUV class for good reason. The X1 boasts lively handling, a quality interior, and many standard tech and safety features. It rates above average for predicted reliability, and it offers a more-accommodating back seat and a larger cargo area than the UX. The X1 also outshines the UX with its peppier turbocharged engine and easier-to-use infotainment system. It’s not a runaway win for the X1 – the UX returns better fuel economy, and its starting price is lower by $2,500 – but overall, the BMW remains the better pick.

Compare the UX and X1 »

Compare the UX, NX, and X1 »

UX Interior: Passable User Experience

UX Cargo Space

The Lexus UX has just 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s less cargo room than almost every other luxury subcompact SUV offers. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split though, opening up a larger area that makes it easier to accommodate the occasional bulky item.

How Many People Does the UX Seat?

The Lexus UX is a two-row SUV with five seats. The front seats are soft and supportive, and the driving position is comfy enough for longer outings behind the wheel. There’s ample headroom and legroom up front, even for taller occupants. Outward visibility is good to the front and sides of the SUV as well, though rear visibility is limited by the thick roof pillars. The UX’s rear seats have adequate space for two adults to sit in reasonable comfort, at least for shorter trips around town. The back seat is better suited for smaller kids and teens on longer drives.

Synthetic leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats are standard. Heated and ventilated front seats, F Sport front seats with larger side bolsters, and a heated steering wheel are available.

UX and Child Car Seats

The UX has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. These connectors are easy to find and access when attaching a child car seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the UX's LATCH system the highest rating of Good+, which indicates that it's among the easiest to use.

UX Interior Quality

The Lexus UX may be the least expensive model in the brand’s lineup, but its interior doesn’t reflect that. The styling is sophisticated and clean cut, and most surfaces are covered in quality materials like soft-touch plastic and padded synthetic leather. The interior filters out most wind and road noise as well, though the engine’s thrum is pervasive at higher speeds.

UX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Lexus UX is offered with a standard 7-inch infotainment display or an available 10.2-inch display. These displays are located high on the dashboard and within the driver’s line of sight, but they are controlled using a touchpad on the center console, similar to the one found on a laptop computer. It’s a distracting setup to use while driving, and it doesn’t integrate well with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. On the plus side, the main audio and climate controls are simple. They can be adjusted using buttons on the center console and toggles on the dashboard.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch display, a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, four USB ports, satellite radio, six speakers, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.3-inch display, an 8-inch digital gauge cluster, navigation, wireless device charging, and eight speakers
  • Additional standard features: proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a moonroof and a hands-free power liftgate

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay?, What Is Android Auto?, and What Is Amazon Alexa Auto?

Read more about interior »

UX Performance: Urban Explorer

UX Engine

The Lexus UX is equipped with a 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel drive. This powertrain enables reasonably swift off-the-line acceleration, helping the UX feel quick and lively at city driving speeds and in stop-and-go traffic. This pep is short-lived, however. The engine sounds coarse at higher rpm and struggles to motivate the UX up to highway speeds. Going from zero to 60 mph takes a leisurely 8.9 seconds, and the UX offers meager passing power once there.

UX Gas Mileage

The Lexus UX gets an EPA-rated 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. That’s one of the best fuel economy ratings amongst luxury subcompact SUVs. Upgrade to the Lexus UX Hybrid for even better gas mileage. It gets an EPA-rated 43/41 mpg city/highway.

UX Ride and Handling

The Lexus UX has well-rounded driving dynamics. The UX feels stable and composed through turns, its steering is responsive and nicely weighted, and its tight turning radius makes the UX easy to park and maneuver on city streets. The suspension does a nice job of soaking up bumps and dips as well, yielding a comfortable and relatively smooth ride on rough pavement.

UX Towing Capacity

The Lexus UX is not rated to tow. Consider upgrading to the Lexus NX if you need to tow a small trailer. The NX is rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about performance »

UX Reliability

Is the Lexus UX Reliable?

The 2021 Lexus UX has a great predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five.

Lexus UX Warranty

Lexus covers the UX with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

UX Safety

UX Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Lexus UX an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The UX received five stars in the side crash test, as well as four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 UX the highest rating of Good in all six of the organization's crash tests. UX models equipped with the triple-beam LED headlamps with auto leveling package earned a Good rating for their headlights; models without that optional equipment received the lowest rating of Poor for how well their headlights illuminate the road ahead.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. The UX received the highest rating of Superior for its standard front crash prevention systems.

UX Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Road sign recognition
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Available advanced safety features:

  • Adaptive headlights
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Hands-free park assist
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

UX Dimensions and Weight

The Lexus UX is 14.8 feet long, and it weighs 3,307 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Lexus UX Built?

Lexus builds the 2021 UX in Japan.

Which Lexus UX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Lexus UX 200 comes in three trims: base, F Sport, and Luxury. All are outfitted with a 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel drive.

We suspect most shoppers will be happy with the base trim. It has an extensive array of standard safety features, as well as niceties like standard smartphone integration and synthetic leather upholstery.

Lexus UX 200

The UX 200 starts at $32,900. Standard features include a 7-inch infotainment display, a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, four USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, six speakers, a Wi-Fi hot spot, proximity keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, blind spot monitoring, LED headlights, and 18-inch wheels.

The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 package also comes standard, and it includes forward collision warning, pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and road sign recognition.

Options include a 10.3-inch infotainment display, a navigation system, eight speakers, wireless device charging, a moonroof, a hands-free power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, hands-free park assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and adaptive pivoting headlights.

Lexus UX 200 F Sport

The UX 200 F Sport trim starts at $34,900 and adds restyled bumpers, a stiffer suspension, an 8-inch digital gauge cluster, shift paddles, and F Sport front seats with larger side bolsters. Most options carry over unchanged.

Lexus UX 200 Luxury

The UX 200 Luxury trim starts at $37,600, and it includes all of the base model’s features plus a 10.3-inch infotainment display, a navigation system, eight speakers, heated and ventilated front seats, a moonroof, a hands-free power liftgate, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. As before, most options carry over unchanged.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2021 Lexus UX specs and trims »

The Final Call

The UX 200 is the Lexus brand’s first entry into the fast-growing luxury subcompact SUV market, and – like many first attempts – it gets a few things right and a few wrong. On the plus side, the UX feels like a genuine Lexus. The interior is quiet and nicely trimmed, there are many standard safety features, and the UX’s ride quality is comfortable over rough road surfaces. It also rates highly for predicted reliability. On the downside, the UX’s engine is underpowered, its infotainment system is unintuitive, cargo capacity is limited, and the rear seats are snug for adults. This pint-sized Lexus is worth a look – just not as a top pick.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2021 Lexus UX is the least expensive way of getting into a brand-new Lexus. As an added bonus, it’s also a crossover SUV, that most desired of vehicles. But it’s a small crossover. It enjoys the distinct Lexus styling language, however, along with the usual high levels of build quality and standard equipment. The UX is now only two years old, so there’s still not a great amount of data, but we’re willing to bet that reliability and resale values are also going to be impressive … Neither version is as lively as, say, the BMW X1 or Volvo XC40, but a dearth of driving thrills has never stopped any Lexus from being popular." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Despite a low ride height and hatchback proportions, the 2020 Lexus UX is a subcompact crossover that caters to the luxury crowd. Its interior is nicely appointed and outfitted with numerous standard features. What the Lexus lacks in cargo storage and engine refinement it makes up for with engaging driving characteristics and affordability. The UX is considerably cheaper than more traditional alternatives such as the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40 but still maintains an upscale aura. Although the 2020 UX is too weird looking and hatchbacklike for some SUV shoppers, it has more than enough content and style to entice everyone else." -- Car and Driver (2020)
  • "Lexus wants us to read 'Urban eXplorer' into its new UX nomenclature, but the target audience of mostly younger, web-savvy folks sees User eXperience when they read those letters. UX in that context refers broadly to a customer's overall interaction with a product or company, with the point of contact–or user interface (UI)–being an especially crucial element. Unfortunately, one of the main elements of the Lexus UX's UI, the infotainment touchpad, has a lousy user experience." -- Motor Trend (2019)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 29, 2021

Steady Sales: The Lexus UX placed in the lower half of the competitive luxury subcompact SUV sales ranks in 2020. The class sales-leading Audi Q3 outsold the UX by 61 percent. That said, UX sales remained consistent last year relative to 2019. 

Research more buying advice »
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2021 Lexus UX

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