The crossover/SUV market is getting more crowded with choices every month, it seems. You have access to plenty that will dominate the space in your garage and maybe even necessitate parking farther out in the grocery store lot in order to not be squeezed into a tiny space.
Slowly but surely, car makers are realizing that there’s a pretty good demand for something in the category that doesn’t overwhelm you. Lexus, which already has a few winners in the crossover arena (see the Lexus RX350, which I reviewed here) and now they’re proudly unveiling their newest player.
The UX 250h is the hybrid version of the brand new UX. If you opt for the traditional engine, it’s the UX 200.
I drove the hybrid 250h for a week.
This is a sweet looking crossover. Although it’s smaller than its family members, the RX and the NX, it doesn’t seem shrimpy. Granted, storage space has been sacrificed, especially in the hybrid, but not to the point where it seems tiny.
The exterior modeling has been quite well done. I found the UX to be one of the more attractive crossovers I’ve driven.
It’s available in two trim levels, the base and the F Sport. A 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine is paired with a couple of motors. Altogether the package delivers 181 horsepower.
A third electric motor is assigned to power the rear wheels in order to provide all-wheel drive. The non-hybrid UX 200 is only available with traditional front-wheel drive.
One thing you’ll notice is that this vehicle rides lower to the ground than most of the crossover/SUVs you might be used to. That’s an important consideration for some people, although it didn’t bother me a bit. In fact, I felt like it provided the 250h with a sportier, more nimble ride.
I’ve yet to be disappointed with the smooth comfort of a Lexus cockpit. Again, there’s some styling that makes it stand out, although more than a few people have pointed out that Lexus cut a few corners in order to make this model more affordable.
I never felt like it cheapened the UX at all.
Things are laid out fine, with a nice setup of virtual gauges for the driver to see between the steering wheel. With its smaller, more intimate interior, everything is easy to reach. In my notes I actually used the word ‘snug,’ but not in a derogatory way. Sometimes I really appreciate a snug driver’s space.
If you’re looking for an SUV with tons of cargo space, you’ve come to the wrong place. The standard UX 200 has about 22 cubic feet, while the hybrid edition is limited to 17. It all depends on your priorities; I’ve never demanded the capability to haul a grand piano, so the UX’s modest way-back space is fine by me.
To help matters, the rear seat features a 60/40 split fold down.
What wasn’t as fine was the storage up front. We’re all getting spoiled to those wide/deep bins and cubbys, and you won’t get those here. I’d rate the storage in the front as okay.
The leather-stitched seats were very comfortable, but that’s pretty much a given with any Lexus. The two-toned look isn’t my personal favorite, but Gretchen thought it was nice.
The driver and front passenger get plenty of room, and although the rear seat can technically hold three additional passengers, two would be better. Remember, we’re talking about a smaller crossover here, so don’t think you’re getting the space of a Lincoln Navigator or anything.
Still, it’s a comfortable space.
There is some yin and yang with the drive of the UX 250h.
The car was not made to bolt from the starting line like a track star. In fact, a zero-to-60 time isn’t even worth talking about. A big part of this likely can be blamed on the 3,600 pounds it’s having to move.
On the flip side, it’s not pokey, either. The combination of gas engine and electric motors did a very good job of navigating around town. At no time did I feel uncomfortable pulling out at an intersection or merging into traffic on the highway.
I guess you could call it the Goldilocks option: It’s just right.
Handling and steering were both very good, and, as mentioned, the UX feels nimble while darting around town. Overall I loved the way this car drove.
The one real ding I’ve given Lexus over the years is their stubborn insistence on the interface. They’re going to keep pushing this touchpad nonsense, although I swear it’s way too distracting for a driver.
That’s combined with some scrolling wheels and buttons. The screen itself is large and pleasant to deal with.
Luckily they’ve made the climate control a bit simpler, which is at least something. I think the luxury car makers won’t stop annoying us with a touchpad or mouse until we all rise up and demand they stop. Give us regular buttons!
Apple CarPlay is available, but not Android Auto, sorry. You also get the big suite of Lexus tech toys, including the Enform wifi system, along with Alexa and smart watch integration. That’s cool.
Although Lexus is generous with standard tech features, there are also plenty of options, some bundled into packages.
The Bottom Line
Of the ten cars I’ve test-driven so far in 2019, I’d put the UX in my top three. It’s just the size I (personally) find attractive, the exterior styling is sharp and eye-appealing, and the drive is sporty and fun.
I do wish there was a bit more storage room up front, and backseat passengers might appreciate a touch more leg room.
But that doesn’t take away the fact that the UX 250h is a dynamic little hybrid crossover that will get you where you’re going in style.
Plus, when you factor in the fuel savings with the hybrid power plant, you’ll appreciate the break for your wallet. The combined mileage, according to the EPA, is around 39 mpg.
If your family doesn’t need to haul half your house every time you go somewhere, it’s a solid choice for you to consider — especially given the price compared to other luxury crossovers.
2019 Lexus UX 250h
2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with dual hybrid electric motors
Continuously variable transmission
All-wheel drive (front-wheel drive standard in the UX 200)
Fuel economy: 41/38/39 combined
As tested: $42,050
Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer