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Toyota trademarks a trio of UXs for Lexus

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The month of February saw a trio of notable trademark filings by Toyota that seemingly hint at the Lexus brand’s 12th model line and their 5th crossover/SUV, the UX. Initially revealed by AutoGuide and then expanded upon in far greater detail by the Lexus Enthusiast blog, the UX initials (we definitely agree with Lexus Enthusiast forums member Hemi’s suggestion that they stand for Urban Crossover) have been trademarked in conjunction with a trio of 200, 250 and 250h numbers. That strongly implies Lexus’ smallest-ever crossover, and one that is probably an offshoot of the just-launched Toyota C-HR, much as the larger Lexus NX shares its basic architecture with the Toyota RAV4.

UX 200
Filed in the United States on 25 February 2016, under Serial Number 86919702, this one suggests a 2-liter, 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated gasoline engine, possibly the same one that will, in conjunction with a CVT (continuously-variable transmission) power the Toyota C-HR in certain markets (North America likely among them). Currently, 4-cylinder options within the Toyota brand there jump from the 1.8-liter 2ZR in both FE and FAE (Valvematic) variants to the 2.5-liter 2AR-FE, so a 2-liter 4 is something North America hasn’t seen in a while. Somewhat muddying the waters, both the ZR and AR engine families offer 2-liter versions.

Toyota_ValvematicTo clarify, the smaller-displacement ZR engine family starts with the 1.6-liter 1ZR, followed by the 1.8-liter 2ZR and maxing out with the 1986cc (80.5 mm bore × 97.6 mm stroke) 3ZR. Two variants of the latter engine currently exist: the 3ZR-FE with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent) on both intake and exhaust camshafts, with an output of 141 hp and 143 lb/ft of torque; and the 3ZR-FAE that adds the Valvematic variable lift intake system (shown at right), for an output of 150 hp and 144 lb/ft of torque.

Meanwhile, the larger-displacement AR engine family starts with the 1998cc (86 mm bore × 86 mm stroke) 6AR and 8AR and then work their way to larger 2.5-liter (2AR) and 2.7-liter (1AR) variants. Both 2-liter versions are sophisticated and content-rich powerplants, featuring dual direct + port injection (D4-S), VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent Wide) with expanded valve opening angles and dual Atkinson/Otto cycle capability. The naturally aspirated 6AR-FSE (shown below left) is only offered in a handful of Asian markets including China, Russia and Thailand, and produces 165 hp and 147 lb/ft of torque. The 8AR-FTS adds a turbocharger for an output of 235 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque in its initial Lexus NX 200t application.

6AR-FSE-engineWhich of these engines would power a Lexus UX 200? That depends on the answer to a couple of other questions. Will Lexus hew to its Toyota siblings’ engine choices, like the ES/Avalon, older RX/Highlander, Russian NX/European RAV4 and LX/Land Cruiser 200 V8? If so, Toyota Japan’s official C-HR microsite tells us that the 2-liter version of the C-HR uses a 1986cc engine with 150 PS (148 hp) and 193 Nm (142.3 lb/ft) of torque. That means one of the 3ZR variants, most likely the Valvematic-endowed 3ZR-FAE. If, on the other hand, Lexus goes its own way, as in the NX 200t vs RAV4, 4th-gen RX vs Highlander or GX vs 4Runner, a case could be made for the slightly larger and more elaborate AR engine family. Don’t necessarily expect the 6AR-FSE, however, as China-market engines such as that one generally have unique engine codes. Remove the turbo from the NX 200t’s 8AR-FTS and you’d have an 8AR-FSE (or, possibly, 8AR-FKS) in its smaller UX 200 sibling. There’s a certain symmetry or logic to that.

UX 250
Filed in Australia on 24 February 2016, under #1754520 and in the United States on 26 February 2016, under Serial Number 86920845. A UX 250 would certainly use a 2AR 2.5-liter four. The only question here is whether it would be the regular 2AR-FE as used in Toyota Camry, RAV4 and soon-to-be-discontinued Scion tC/Toyota Zelas or a new 2AR-FSE or FKS with all the D4-S, VVT-iW and dual Otto/Atkinson cycle bells and whistles from the 2-liter AR family engines.

UX 250h
Filed in Australia on 24 February 2016, under #1754522 and in the United States on 26 February 2016, under Serial Number 86920959. As with the UX 200, educated guesswork and informed speculation go into overtime, especially considering that with the carmaker’s hybrids, the numbers correspond to semi-arbitrary performance equivalencies, and not actual engine size. Is Lexus bringing back the HS 250’s 2AZ-FXE 2.4-liter hybrid powertrain? Highly unlikely. What about the 4th-generation Toyota Prius and its latest iteration of the 1.8-liter 2ZR-FXE powertrain? Is it enough of an improvement over its predecessor that it’s gone from a 2-liter equivalent (as on the current aging Lexus CT 200h) to a 2.5-liter equivalent? Again unlikely, given that the new version is actually a bit down on official horsepower numbers, unless adding dual direct + port injection and VVT-iW does the trick. Or will Toyota and Lexus engineers finally set out to hybridize the 2-liter 3ZR engine to create a 3ZR-FXE hybrid powertrain with 2.5-liter-equivalent performance? Here’s hoping…

Bear in mind, however, that just because Toyota filed three different UX trademarks for (presumably) Lexus isn’t a guarantee that all three will see the light of day on an actual production vehicle. Perhaps none of them will. As we noted back in June 2015,

…registration of a trademark is not a guarantee that a model bearing that name will reach production. Besides… VX and JX, other Lexus-centric badges that have died unused include CT 300h, CT 400h (we’re particularly bummed out about those two), IS 300C, RX 440h, LX 520, LX 550, LX 590, LX 600 and JX 470.

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