Given that I generally dislike hybrid power-trains, my expectations were not particularly high when I took delivery of my very fetching Nori Green 2019 Lexus UX 250h. First impressions on the smallest Lexus crossover are, it looks really good and is more hatchback shaped than expected. Add the elegant creases and folds and you have a vehicle that definitely stands out, even if it doesn’t stand tall.
I’ve driven the CT200h a couple of times and it is somewhat under-powered and certainly misses out on the wow factor inside. The new UX 250h, however, has a combined power of 181 hp, 47 hp more than the CT200h which is enough to get along quite nicely. The 2.0-liter inline-4 has 143 hp and 133 lb-ft mated to a permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor, driven through a 10-speed continuously variable transmission. In the case of the hybrid, which has all-wheel-drive, the system doesn’t use a driveshaft. Instead the UX hybrid uses an electric motor to power the rear wheels only at speeds up to 45 mph.
Being a hybrid, by definition, means having a battery and this does make the little UX quite heavy, curb weight is 3,605 lbs some 298 lbs heavier than the UX200.
On The Road
From a driver’s perspective it’s very easy to drive in particularly around town, where you can shoot for a gap in traffic thanks to the electric drive’s extra torque. It’s fairly lively from a standstill although the 2.0 liter can get buzzy at higher revs, so it’s more fun driving around on a partial throttle.
I spent the first day week toggling between Eco, Normal and Sport, and decided that Sport was best for the rest of the week. You do have to reset it every time you start the car since is always defaults to Normal. With that setting I wasn’t able to achieve the EPA rating of 41 city but I was quite pleased with my 32 mpg considering my energetic driving style.
The steering has a reassuring weight and is direct making the car quite nimble. It’s not just a city car though, once on the freeway it cruises at high speeds and still has enough to push past traffic with relative ease.
The chassis is good, you feel planted in the turns and it feels very stable at higher speeds. Simple put the diminutive UX doesn’t feel like a crossover at all, it feels like a car and this is why it shines. True, outright acceleration is not going to blow your socks off, 0-60 takes 8.6 seconds, but this is not its intended purpose.
You sit quite low in this car, so those of you that enjoy a high riding panoramic view will be disappointed, or will you? You see once you slide inside the very comfortable, leather faced seats you’ll notice the UX is
beautifully designed and thought out.
The controls are laid out well using piano key buttons in a long row, the infotainment screen is wide and thin and is angled towards the driver, another plus. Instead of having to use the fiddly touch-pad for everything, the basic audio controls protrude from the front of the center armrest. It works, you can adjust volume, media, etc.
There are some issues, for instance there is only 17.1 cubic feet of space in the hybrid, 4.6 less than in standard model. The loading height is 32 inches off the ground making heavy items awkward and it reduces headroom. Having said that my 90 lb hound was able to get in and get comfortable.
My Luxury equipped tester came with just about everything you would need including Triple Beam Headlamp, Washers, LED Fog Lamps and Cornering Lamps for $1,660. Add a Wireless Charger for $75 and the total tester price was $42,525.
Standard safety equipment included Pre-Collision System w/Pedestrian Detection, All Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracking Assist and Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist.
The UX is good, in fact it’s very good, as a replacement for the aging CT, Lexus has produced a winner. It’s specifically aimed at the entry-level urban luxury buyer, and as a bonus is Lexus’s least-expensive model. I really liked this little Lexus, I’ll be sad to see it go.
2019 Lexus UX 250h Luxury Numbers
BASE PRICE: $39,200
PRICE AS TESTED: $42,525
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, AWD, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4
ELECTRIC MOTOR: High-output, permanent-magnet, with EV mode
COMBINED POWER: 181 hp
TRANSMISSION: Electronically controlled Continuously Variable
0-60 MPH: 8.6 sec
CURB WEIGHT: 3,605 lb
CARGO CAPACITY: 21.7 ft³
FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 10.6 gallons
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 41/38/39 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 32 mpg
PROS: Quite and refined, superb seats, beautiful interior
CONS: Cargo space is tight.