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Finding the right compact crossover SUV can be a challenge as the market seems to be ever-expanding. But the 2021 Lexus UX is of a different breed, entirely unto its own. This compact crossover is really sized and shaped more along the hatchback lines, and it actually slates below Lexus' NX, which is its smallest crossover. The UX is small but mighty, and it practically oozes sophistication.
With its low center of gravity and competitive cargo and cabin space, the Lexus UX is an athletic performer with an edge over many rivals. The UX is actually quite fun to drive despite the standard 4-cylinder and hybrid powertrains both being sluggish to accelerate and getting noisy when pushed. But inside and out, the UX is stylish and spunky. That is what will attract serious buyers who want a blend of power and creature comforts.
As far as standard features go, even the base trim is packed with them. Also, this year, Lexus made some upgrades to both the standard UX 200 and the hybrid UX 250h. The UX 200 gets a rear cargo board that is adjustable, meaning cargo space gets a boost from 17 cubic feet up to 22 cubic feet. Blind spot monitoring now comes standard on every trim level, and rear cross traffic alert comes right along with it. Silver Lining Metallic and Autumn Shimmer - two well-loved exterior body colors - have sadly been axed from the line-up this year, but the remaining ones look just as nice. On top of it all, the UX 250h has a more responsive accelerator this year since Lexus went ahead and made some tweaks to its design.
Before you go into the rest of this trim level comparison review, you need to know that the 2021 Lexus UX has a gas- or hybrid-powered powertrain that comes equipped with a continuously variable transmission (better known as a CVT). You can only get all-wheel drive on the UX 250h, as the UX 200 is front-wheel drive only. These differences could impact your decision to buy. And, with that being said, it is time to launch into our comparison. Be sure to read through to the conclusion, as that is where we will let you know which trim level we think offers the best overall deal for buyers.
Compare the 2021 Lexus UX 200 vs UX 200 F Sport Trim Level. - What is the Difference?
The base UX 200 trim level comes loaded with just about everything you could expect to find in a luxury base trim. It starts you off with an interior that is constructed for both comfort and luxury. A dual-zone automatic climate control system provides air distribution and filters the air going into the cabin for impurities. The front seats are both 8-way power-adjustable with 2-way power lumbar support for the driver, and the rear has a 60/40-split folding bench seat. The steering wheel and gear shift knob are both trimmed in leather. A folding tonneau cover is included as well. Stand-alone options include an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with the HomeLink universal garage door opener and built-in digital compass, a kick sensor with a power rear door, and a heated steering wheel. Package options will also give you heated and ventilated front seats and Washi interior trim.
To this, the UX 200 F Sport adds paddle shifters, sliding bezel with the performance-inspired instrumentation, unique F Sport stylings (including front aluminum door-sill scuff plates and aluminum pedals), a perforated leather–trimmed F SPORT steering wheel and shift knob, and bolstered front F Sport seats. Package options open up for the Lexus Memory System equipped on the driver's seat and side mirrors as well as heated front seats.
On the outside, the UX 200 looks pretty chic. It rides atop 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels with Dark Gray and machined finish; run-flat tires come with it. Aluminum roof rails come equipped, as do Bi-LED headlightss, LED taillights, LED daytime running lights, and heated side mirrors. Options include a power tilting and sliding moonroof, windshield wiper de-icer, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and Premium Triple-Beam LED headlights that are auto-leveling and adaptive front lights, washers for the headlights, fog lights, and cornering lights.
The UX 200 F Sport standardizes the Bi-LED premium lights. A package option that opens up is the power-folding side mirrors that have an auto tilt-down function in reverse and a driver's-side auto-dimming feature.
Standard tech features on both trim levels include a 6-speaker premium sound system, a color display with the Multimedia System, voice command, smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa capability, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Lexus Enform Remote, the Lexus app (which includes engine start from Enform Remote and vehicle reports), a three-month trial for 4G LTE WiFi hotspot connectivity, a 7-inch LCD display, four USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera, push-button Start/Stop on the SmartAccess feature, and an electronic parking brake.
The UX 200 F Sport adds active sound control and an 8-inch color display. Both vehicles have options for a wireless charger, a built-in navigation system, Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation, a 10.3-inch touchscreen display, dynamic voice command, Lexus Enform Destination Assist, an 8-speaker premium sound system, and a head-up display.
The safety system is pretty well-rounded on both trim levels. The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 comes on every trim level and includes a pre-collision warning with a pedestrian warning built into it, lane trace assist, steering assist with the lane departure warning system, road sign assist, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and intelligent high beams. You also get Lexus Enform Safety Connect, Lexus Enform Service Connect, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Intuitive Parking Assist is an option and comes with automatic braking.
Compare the 2021 Lexus UX 200 F Sport vs UX 200 Luxury Trim. - What is the Difference?
If you upgrade to the Luxury trim level, you lose the F Sport's unique features but gain - obviously - more luxury ones. That means that, for the interior, you get a standard power rear door with the kick sensor, air knob vents that are wirelessly powered and LED-illuminated, acoustic front glass, aluminum door-sill scuff plates for the front, and the Lexus Memory System for driver's seat and both side mirrors.
On the exterior, the UX 200 Luxury gains the power tilting and sliding moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and auto tilt-down on the power folding side mirrors. As far as tech goes, the Luxury does lose the F Sport's 8.0-inch multi-information display and active sound control. Everything else remains the same. Safety features also remain the same.
Compare the 2021 Lexus UX 200 Luxury vs 250h AWD. What is the difference?
The 250h AWD is where things dramatically differ as, after all, this is a hybrid powertrain. Since it is a hybrid, it gains extra mechanical components, including the battery pack and motor. It also gets EV drive mode and, as the name indicates, standard all-wheel drive.
A few changes can be found inside of the 250h AWD. The cabin gains a rear cargo deckboard that can be adjusted. It has the same optional features as the base UX 200 though. On the outside, the 250h AWD a concealed exhaust, but it otherwise looks just like the gas-powered base trim. Technology and safety features remain unchanged.
Compare the 2021 Lexus UX 250h AWD vs 250h F Sport AWD - What is the Difference?
The 250h F Sport AWD essentially combines the hybrid powertrain with the features you get on the F Sport. This means you get F Sport bolstered front seats, the perforated leather-wrapped F Sport steering wheel and gear shift knob, the aluminum pedals, front aluminum door-sill scuff plates, and sliding bezel with the performance-inspired instrumentation set-up. Of course, paddle shifters get included.
On the exterior, the 250h F Sport AWD shares the 200 F Sport's 18-in split-5-spoke alloy wheels that come with run-flat tires. It also has the same badging and uniquely styled front and rear fascia. LED fog lights with cornering lights come included. A package option will give you power-folding side mirrors that have an auto tilt-down feature that works in reverse as well as an auto-dimming driver's side mirror.
Since this is an F Sport model, active sound control and the 8-inch multi-information display return. The rest of the tech and safety features remain unchanged.
Compare the 2021 Lexus UX 250h F Sport AWD vs UX 250h Luxury AWD - What is the Difference?
The UX 250h Luxury AWD is essentially the 250h with all of the features you find on the 200 Luxury. This means that the vehicle comes with acoustic front side glass, the air vent knobs that are wirelessly powered, kick sensor for the power rear door, Lexus Memory on the dirver's seat and side mirrors, and heated and ventilated front seats. The front aluminum door-sill scuff plates also come equipped.
The exterior features the standard power moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and auto-dimming on the power-folding driver's side mirror. Once again, nothing changes regarding technology and safety features.
2021 Lexus UX 250h Luxury AWD vs UX 250h AWD Black Line Special Edition. What is the difference?
A the very top of the 2021 Lexus UX line-up is the UX 250h AWD Black Line Special Edition. It will not release until mid-cycle, while all of the other UX models are already on the market. This trim level standardizes some of the remaining options left over on the 250h Luxury AWD, starting with the auto-dimming rear-view mirror with the compass and HomeLink. It also has a heated steering wheel, special Black Line floor mats and a cargo mat, blue stitching on the armrest and upper area of the instrument panel along with matching blue trim, and blue seatbelts.
The exterior is a lot different than the other trims. This one gets treated to black roof rails, black 18-inch alloy wheels, blackened headlights, a black grille surround, a black grille, black side mirrors, and over-fenders that are color-keyed. Windshield wiper de-icer also comes as standard.
The wireless charger gets added as a standard tech feature, and intuitive parking assist rounds out the list of standard safety features.
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Which Trim to Choose?
So, which 2021 Lexus UX trim level should you get? We will tell it to you straight: We wholeheartedly recommend the UX250h. Why do we say this? Well, the standard all-wheel drive is something many drivers will like. Also, in the city, this trim level gets improved fuel economy. With the F Sport version of the UX250h, you can enjoy more sculpted front seats with better support, a sportier suspension, and the ultra cool gauge cluster. Also, you might want to equip the Premium package since that will give the vehicle rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and upgraded interior materials. It really completes the UX250h.
Still, it will be hard to go wrong with any trim level in this line-up. They all have something special to offer their buyers.