The XC40 launched in April 2018 and has already overtaken its rivals to be the top-selling model in the segment. The UX arrived in January this year, slotting into the Lexus line-up under the popular NX SUV.
The Volvo is offered with a choice of two petrol engines and three model grades, while the Lexus offers a petrol or petrol-electric hybrid powertrain across three model grades.
We sampled two front-wheel-drive Lexus variants – the petrol UX200 F Sport and the hybrid UX250h Sports Luxury – but have focused on the UX200 F Sport as it is more closely aligned to the specification of the XC40 T4 Inscription.
The XC40 costs $50,990 plus on-road costs, but Volvo fitted our test car with the optional Technology Pack that bundles up adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, park assist and more for $5580, bringing the price to $56,570.
It is well specified, with a solid list of standard safety gear – as one would hope from a Volvo – and comfort and tech gear including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen with satellite navigation, but it is missing a digital radio.
Lexus is known for offering more standard equipment than its European rivals, and the UX is no different. Priced from $53,450, the UX200 F Sport misses out on Apple CarPlay/Android Auto for now but features a suite of active safety gear and a 10.3-inch multimedia system.
Both cars have a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.
Each model offers a different take on small SUV design. The XC40 has a boxy body, but it’s a shape that works well with Volvo’s current design language. It has a noticeably higher ride height (211 millimetres compared with 160 millimetres) and is larger than the Lexus in all dimensions except length.