Lexus UX 200 F Sport: The New UX in Lexus Premium auto brands often offer smaller companions to their flagship sedans. These gateway autos are the See’s samplers of motoring. Good examples include BMW’s plucky 2002 and Acura’s Integra. Now, you must step up in height and price into a cute ute such as BMW’s X1/X2 (Mini’s hardware) and Audi’s new Q3 (VW’s MQB platform). Lexus’s entry-slot highchair is the UX 200. The UX’s cousin is Toyota’s C-HR built with Toyota’s New Global Architecture. The MSRP starts at just north of $35,000. Add some gear; the tab rises to $41,285. What do you get? Exterior styling looks like a wide-screen sci-fi spacecraft shrunk to fit a 19-inch Sony Trinitron. Creased exterior panels and angular plastic-clad wheel arches pay homage to either the Lamborghini Urus or Pontiac’s Aztek. Eighteen-inch wheels clad with Bridgestone 225/50 run-flat tires fill those arches. Wearing “That 70s Show” Cadmium Orange paint, the UX looks sunshine sweet. Panel alignment zigs or zags precisely. The wrap-around tail lamps sport pert Caddy tailfins. Drivers experience a plush panzer-like driving position with power-adjust front seat and steering wheel. Legroom is generous. Red stitching offsets the coal-bin interior. Lexus covers most surfaces with pliable materials. Dashboard sculpting puts a 10.3-inch infotainment screen deep in its center stack. Below this, there are rows of piano-key switches and a CD-player. The shell-like front seats are supportive. The protruding dashboard is a hazard. Like a 1957 Ford’s wrapped windshield's dogleg, Lexus’ jutting dashboard knocks your knees. The speedometer, in contrast, slides to the right, opening real estate for an information billboard. Sight lines are blocked due to high window sills and thick windshield pillars. Pay $565 for parking assist with rear cross traffic alert. Lexus’ driver’s assist package with radar cruise control, lane tracing alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and road sign detection is standard. An optional color head up display costs $500. Lexus’ trick center armrest opens either left or right uncovering USB ports. A hidden 12-volt socket resides next to a lower-dashboard phone charging pad. Behind the center armrest, there are rear face vents and power points. Those forced to endure the grade-school gymnasium bleacher-sized 60/40 folding rear seat suffer from skimpy foot, knee and legroom. For the $41,285 asking price, one would expect soft-touch rear door cards and perhaps two front seat-back pockets. You get only one of the latter. Lexus includes rear side airbags. Kick your foot under the rear bumper like the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker; the power liftgate opens. A high rear apron and rear bumper projection force you to lift and stretch, when loading. The fastback roofline limits cargo room. Underfloor stowage is skimpy and unsightly. Easy-folding rear seats lay flat but higher than the stowage floor. When they’re lowered, a road bike fits after removing the the front wheel. Driven with brio, the UX runs wide, plows and pushes. Steering isn’t communicative. Yet, the UX quickly threaded confidently on twisty asphalt near Lake Michigan’s western shore. Ride quality rates calm. Wind and road noise are hushed. Firm snaps and thumps poke through, however. Brake pedal effort is moderate. An adequate twin-injection, front-drive 169-hp non-turbo mill attaches to a “10-speed” CVT. Paddles shifters let you pick “gears.” When provoked, the engine moans like a $14,000 Mitsubishi Mirage. Lexus says its first-gear launch has less Laffy Taffy than other CVTs. True. The UX’s chief virtue is good fuel economy. The EPA says: 29 mpg city, 37 highway and 33 combined. I saw 34 mpg. Mute the active sound feature. It makes the engine sound like a berserk oboe from an unhappy orchestra. LED headlamps with cornering aid and automatic high beams provide good illumination. Lexus lights the steering column stalk’s headlight switch and the instrument panel’s brightness control. Lexus convenience items include a climate concierge. It tweaks seat heat and other functions based on your temp setting. The infotainment screen’s interface pad plays peek-a-boo near the shift lever. It’s awkward as Kevin Spacey at a Cub Scout meeting. A Sony Walkman-like control panel around the center armrest lets you spin audio-system thumb wheels. Once learned they’re intuitive. Compared with other premium brands the UX’s power train comes up short. There’s a hybrid version, which adds rear-wheel drive. Those seeking to step up from a Toyota Corolla, this is your ride.