At RM 249k, the Toyota Harrier asks quite a sizeable chunk of your hard-earned money. Interestingly, the Lexus UX occupies a similar price range to the Harrier (RM 236k - 290k). Will this cause some sort of cannibalisation within the brands? Let's delve further and have a look.
All cards on the table, the Harrier is actually the bigger car, as it sits on the TNGA-K platform. Conversely, the UX is underpinned by the smaller TNGA-C platform (Lexus just calls it GA-C). It is patently obvious when you step inside. The Harrier is more spacious and airy, while the interior space of the UX remains its one glaring weakness.
Boot space (litres)
Inside, both cars don't fare all that well when in comes to places to put your stuff. The UX is the poorer of the two in this aspect, having no rear door bins and a paltry 271 litres of boot space. The Harrier fares a bit better with slightly more storage spaces and 396 litres of boot space.
The same goes for road presence. The Harrier, being the bigger car, does look the more imposing of the two. The UX carries off that typical Lexus styling - sharp, distinctive, bold - but next to the Harrier, looks a little compact. That said, it really is down to personal preference with regards to which looks better.
The Lexus factor
Everything about the Lexus UX feels a cut above the Harrier. Look at the spindle grill, the wing mirrors, the LED headlights, the aero blade taillamps and the finishing in the interior (did I mention I adore the 'Washi' finish on the UX Luxury?). This is where your money goes to, the little extras that elevate the UX to a more special plane.
The Harrier is by no means a poor relative, serving up a sumptuous interior in its own right. It's just that, at various touch points, you'll notice shared Toyota switchgear scattered across the cabin. Is it a dealbreaker? Hardly, but it does make the Harrier feel a little less bespoke for the money. This is especially evident in the Malaysian-spec infotainment screen, which is reduced in size.
Even so, both cars score quite well in the kit counter. Full TSS ADAS suite, many airbags, powered tailgate, wireless charging, and smartphone connectivity. Special mention goes to the Harrier's ingenious fixed panoramic roof, which is equipped with electro-chromatic glass that can be dimmed or darkened at the touch of a button. Neat!
Lexus UX F Sport
Electric steering adjustment
Powered tailgate with easy open
The drive factor
Seeing that both cars have TNGA roots underneath, both the Harrier and UX excel in the ride and handling department. In the performance stakes, the Harrier and UX share the exact same powertrain, a 2.0-litre, Dynamic Force engine paired to a Direct Shift CVT transmission. Curiously, the output for both cars are slightly different, the Lexus with 171 PS/205 Nm and the Toyota coming in with 173 PS/203 Nm.
The UX, being the lighter car, does feel more responsive and nimble compared to the 70 kg heavier Harrier. Having spent extensive time in it, I can safely say that it is the most accomplished of the premium compact SUVs in driving experience, even if it loses out on outright grunt.
We expect the same of the Toyota Harrier (although we have yet to drive it yet), in which it is the most proficient in its class where ride and handling are concerned. However, the Harrier occupies a space in the market where it is a class of one, so it is the best by default (chuckle chuckle). Much has been made about the loss of turbo propulsion, but the XU60 generation can only dream of having a chassis as talented as its current successor.
Choosing between these 2 cars is a lot harder than it seems, but for my personal preference, I'd plump for the Toyota Harrier. Living with it daily would be a little easier compared to the UX, extra space and all. Don't get me wrong, I love the Lexus experience as much as anyone, but the Harrier probably meets my needs in a better manner.
If you're looking for a sense of occasion everytime you get in, then the Lexus UX will be that car. More than just a posh Toyota, it carries off this air of effortless luxury that is borne from decades of perfecting Lexus craftsmanship. It is more expensive, it is the smaller car, but boy does it feel special.