Have you looked at the price of gas lately? We have. And when we got our latest tester the Lexus UX 250h hybrid might just be the perfect answer for those who want luxury with a green (cash or environment) friendly ride. Is it worth your green? Let’s take a look.
While the UX is an “urban” vehicle, and the brand’s smallest crossover, it doesn’t come up short on design. From the front, you’ll get the familiar Lexus spindle grille. And like other models, it’s huge.
Maybe we’re getting used to it, but the proportions don’t bother us anymore, and with the signature L-shaped driving lights, LED headlights, and our Luxury model’s bright chrome trim, the look is aggressive and upscale. This is the first UX we’ve had that wasn’t the sporty F SPORT trim, but we think the Luxury model gives off plenty of good vibes.
That good feeling continues in profile, while the UX is definitely the fun-sized model, it’s got plenty of curves and fender flares to make the little crossover volumptuous, modern and crisp. The dark gray, 18-inch, twin-spoke alloy wheels look sporty as well.
The rear has the same crisp look, with rear “Aero Stabilizing Blade Lights” that span across the vehicle and tighten up the lines. The wing-type rear spoiler adds some aero cred, while a lower fascia gives a bit of SUV toughness to the package. The finishing touch – our tester’s Cloudburst Gray that looks very premium. Those wanting to make a bigger statement can find a wide range of colors – we love the eye-searing Redline, the bright blue Grecian Water and the very Japanese Nori Green Pearl.
Luxury on a Slightly Smaller Scale
Inside is a little different from our previous F SPORT. There, we had bright red sport seats. The Luxury model is a bit more somber with a uniform gray. That’s not to say it’s not upscale, with handsome materials and a beautifully finished appearance.
The driver gets an attractive digital/analog combo display and the optional 10.3-inch info-tainment split-screen in the center of the dash is handsome, and was great to use for our WAZE app.
The Lexus Navigation system is included in the package, and works very well adding a cloud-based service to ensure trip details are up-to-date and routes are selected with accuracy. Nice.
The 8-speaker audio system sounds great, and as a bonus on hybrid models, Acoustic front side glass and Acoustic sound control keep things quiet and serene.
Everyone loves tech, and the UX serves up the goods with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi hotspot and optional wireless charging, plus add goods that let you integrate standard safety features with your smartwatch, Amazon-enabled, or Google Assistant enabled device. Letting you lock/unlock the doors, start the engine, or even check the fuel level.
Lexus still doesn’t win us over with their fidgety touch-pad system controls, and the UX also has a mouse-like hub with pushbutton controls and a little thumbwheel for volume controls that really is not very intuitive. A volume and tuning knob would go a long way, please.
The UX does its best to soothe our slightly frayed nerves with a load of impressive luxuries like, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone climate controls and power tailgate.
While this is not a large vehicle on the outside, we found the rear seats surprisingly comfy for adults. With those seats up, cargo space is merely adequate, but you can easily flip them down if you need more cargo space. A nice accessory roof rack would also give you plenty of room to carry extra gear or bikes, if that’s your vibe.
Fun Size, Indeed
The UX’s compact dimensions make it one of the most fun to drive Lexus crossovers. Like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the hybrid powertrain is the enthusiast’s choice.
While the non-hybrid model features a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder with 169 horsepower and front wheel drive, the hybrid adds to that engine and gives 181 horsepower and all-wheel drive. Like most hybrids, that extra EV-like push at the bottom of the powerband gives a bit more oomph off the line and the UX can also cruise in whisper-quiet EV mode when the conditions are right.
And remember what we said about the cost of the gas? Well, the 250h hybrid touts a 41-mpg city rating (hybrids often work best around town) and a combined estimate of 39 mpg. This makes it one of the most efficient small crossovers you can buy.
For reference, the non-hybrid UX comes in at 29 mpg city and 32 mpg combined, so it’s a notable difference. We couldn’t approach that 41 mpg because we liked keeping our tester in Sport Mode which brightened up the responsiveness and brought more grins.
The compact dimensions add to those grins. While we would recommend the F SPORT for max G’s with a sportier suspension and grippier seats, our Luxury model still was very responsive to the steering and was lots of fun to zip around and slice and dice city traffic. Despite the short wheelbase, we also found freeway traffic to be relaxed and composed as well. Win-win!
Save At The Pumps, Save At The Bank?
That depends on how much luxury or sport you want. You can get into a UX200 starting at $34,525, and for a gateway drug to the Lexus life of luxury that’s very reasonable.
Our UX250h AWD is at the other end of the price range, starting at $41,865. Our tester was fully loaded, adding Premium triple beam LED lighting ($1,660), Color Head-up display ($500), Wireless Charger ($75) Intuitive Parking Assist with Rear Cross Traffic braking ($565) and Cloudburst Gray paint ($500) add in delivery, and we rang the bell at $45,165.
Competitors would include the Volvo XC40, at $41,945, but it isn’t a hybrid. We also like the sporty BMW X2, at $45,000 comparably equipped. Also, not a hybrid, but a very sporty drive, to be sure. We say drive and see what suits you best.
Premium luxury, style, and panache, with the fuel-sipping efficiency of a Prius. The Lexus UX 250h is the perfect crossover for the way we live today.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.