Lexus, a top luxury brand for quality and customer satisfaction, entered the subcompact luxury hybrid crossover market with their UX 250h hybrid. Its main selling points are its impressive fuel economy, top safety ratings, eye-grabbing design and upscale interior along with the latest technological features.
UX 250h is offered in base, F Sport and Luxury trim versions. We were privileged to test the F Sport which as its name implies, has a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, partial AWD, sporty trim features and active noise control.
The UX 250h is situated within a crowded subcompact field, however, few are hybrid and considered luxury. The closest are Honda’s CR-V Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid, but both are larger vehicles and can’t be fairly compared.
Like all Lexus vehicles, UX’s interior is exceptionally classy with a 10.3-inch multimedia display, supportive, comfy, perforated leather seats. The console houses the CVT transmission shifter that is flanked by a track pad that has double tap, pinch and flicking operation. But it’s distracting and not really safe to use while driving as it’s super sensitive that requires undivided attention for selections – which takes the eyes off the road. Seems a touchscreen or a rotary controller would be better and safer.
The bright and sharp 10.3-inch dash-top dual display serves a host of functions including climate and audio selections plus rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Enform Suite apps with Wi-Fi connect capability and some voice control. All of which can be displayed simultaneously with entertainment selections that includes satellite radio.
The hybrid’s HVAC controls are keyboard type switches that are easy to view and use. And below them are push button switches for the heated/cooled seats and heated steering wheel.
Speaking of the heated/cooled front seats, they are supportive and sporty with contrasting stitching on all seams plus matching color inlays.
On the vertical stack and below the display is a wireless phone charger and get this, a CD player. Lexus is one of the few carmakers still offering one.
A single digital instrument gauge displays speed, transmission gear, driving modes of Eco, Charge and Power. Plus, it serves as a driver information display with a host of notices and alerts.
Attached to the gauge display is the drive mode selector switch that sprouts from the right side of the gauge display. The turret-type rotary switch offers selectable Sport, Normal and Eco driving modes. Eco controls the operation of the A/C and heating system and is the most economical driving mode. Sport livens performance somewhat as it maintains shift points a bit longer and UX’s steering becomes more sensitive for spirited driving. There’s also a separate EV switch that allows short drives on electric only.
One commendable safety feature is that the drivers’ seat bottom buzzes to alert the driver of an impending accident or obstruction. For example, when backing into something or approaching a vehicle in front at too high rate of speed and other situations.
Included too is Lexus’ Safety System 2.0 featuring pre-collision system w/pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing alert/lane departure with steering assist, intelligent high beam headlights (brightens/dims automatically) and road sign assist.
Another nice feature, particularly if it’s raining hard, is the doors unlock when approaching the car with the keyfob in a pocket or purse.
With its short wheelbase, UX’s back seat leg space is understandably tight, especially so if the fronts are racked well rearward. Ingress/egress though is easy thanks to wide opening rear doors and a low 16.25-inch step-in.
The cargo area is rated at 17.1 cubic feet that measures 30 inches deep, 40 wide and 22 high. With the hybrid battery stowed underneath, the cargo floor is higher than on a non-hybrid UX, and as such, has a bit less cubic feet. That also puts load height at an easy 30 inches. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and cargo depth expands to 61 inches.
UX 250h Sport is powered by a 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder plus a 24-kW battery for a total of 181 horsepower. Coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the combination gets impressive EPA mileage estimates of 41 city, 38-highway mpg. Acceleration from a standing stop and during highway passing maneuvers is linear. There’s only a slight increase in performance when selecting Sport mode. The UX 250h is not a speedster, just an economical and classy crossover.
Shod with Bridgestone 18-inch tires, the UX 250h is a quiet and smooth rider even with the sport suspension. Only major road imperfections resonate into the cabin. It handles nicely with nary any lean in sharp turns, is nimble and parks easily with a tight turning radius thanks to its compact size.
The UX 250h began life at $36,350. But escalated after adding the wireless charger ($75); windshield deicer ($100); F Sport Luxury Package ($2,890) that includes rain sensing wipers, heated/cooled sport seats, moonroof and more; head-up display ($500); navigation system w/10.3-inch display, dynamic voice display, 8-speaker premium audio, Lexus Enform, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and more; premium paint ($595); heated F Sport steering wheel w/paddle shifters ($150); carpeted cargo mat ($110); key gloves ($25); 3M paint protection film ($430) and delivery ($1,025), took the bottom line to $44,450.
If you can live without some of these niceties, this price can be shaved somewhat.
To its credit, the UX 250h received the government’s top five-star overall safety rating; four each for driver/passenger frontal crash; five each for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover. All impressive safety scores for a compelling and classy compact crossover.