The UX is the smallest crossover offering in the Lexus lineup.
These days, electric vehicles (EVs) are dominating automotive headlines. Manufacturers are rushing to the gate with their new portfolios in every segment they can afford to launch with, but Toyota has decided to stay the course and double-downed on their tried and true hybrid technology. This approach has yielded great dividends for the brand, and they made sure their Lexus luxury division is following the same path with a hybrid variant of their three most popular crossover models, the UX, NX, and RX. On test here is the 2020 Lexus UX 250h AWD Luxury.
The UX is the smallest crossover offering in the Lexus lineup. While it is small, the 2020 UX 250h looks unmistakable as a Lexus product wearing the brand’s signature spindle grille. Its fascia and body shape are evolutions of the hybrid model it loosely replaces, the CT 200h, with the addition of slightly higher ride height to distinguish itself as a crossover and not a regular hatchback.
In an effort to make the UX stand out amongst the crossovers in the market, Lexus has offered it with some interesting colour choices such as Celestial Blue, Cadmium Orange, and the one painted on our sample here, Nori Green Pearl. The UX 250h’s bold styling stands out in the segment, and is suitable to its intended buyers that are usually younger and likely with small children.
Two engine choices are available for the 2020 Lexus UX. The front-drive UX 200 (reviewed here) features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 168 horsepower, and all-wheel drive versions are powered by a 2.0-litre hybrid powerplant that outputs 181 horsepower. By pairing two electric motor-generators to the engine, the UX 250h achieves extra power and enhanced efficiency while offering a silky-smooth ride. Acceleration will not blow anyone away, but is effortless while the electric all-wheel drive (eAWD) works in the background to send power to the rear wheels when traction is needed. Power delivery is similar to its mainstream offering, the Toyota Prius AWD-e (reviewed here), but is noticeably quicker thanks an extra 61-horsepower.
For a typically boring segment, the UX 250h handles fairly well. Steering is light, with some feel of the road. Its small footprint and sporty chassis tuning make the Lexus UX 250h a fun car to drive in a regular commute setting, and we enjoyed that it has good brake feel unlike the regenerative braking systems that are found in many hybrids or EVs. There is an EV mode that allows it to run on battery only, but we found that the range is too short to be meaningful and drivers will have to ease on the throttle so much to keep it on that it is difficult to keep up in traffic.
Lexus Canada rates the 2020 UX 250h’s fuel consumption at 5.7L/100km in the city, 6.2L/100km on the highway, and a combined 6.0L/100km. Our test result comes in at a lower than expected 5.8L/100km for a combined commute, truly excellent considering the urban environment we had the vehicle in. The UX 250h accepts regular fuel, and fuel tank capacity is a paltry 40 litres.
The interior is where Lexus products typically excel, and the UX 250h is no exception. Open its doors and drivers are welcomed into to a clean and simple interior. Every button is well within reach, and is clearly labeled so there is no confusion. Fit and finish is of high quality, and special trim material inspired by handmade Japanese paper known as ‘Washi’ sets a calm and welcoming tone for the interior. The light-coloured NuLuxe synthetic leather seats look and feel good, and we expect the materials to be easier to maintain than traditional leather. The front seats are heated, ventilated, and are eight-way power adjustable, while the rear seats are split-foldable to expand the standard 486-litre cargo area. Users who are looking for more cargo capacity should take a look at the gasoline powered UX model with 614-litres of volume.
For our Luxury trim tester, infotainment is delivered by an upgraded 10.3-inch display screen atop the centre console. The resolution is good, however we encountered legibility issues with the screen brightness in sunlight, as if there was a privacy screen applied. A trackpad controls the infotainment commands, and it continues to be a distracting and frustrating experience trying to navigate while on the fly.
The good news is that there are shortcut keys including a volume dial below the trackpad to assist with user commands, and the Lexus UX 250h now supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity (Android Auto is new for 2020 for the Lexus lineup). Those who prefer to have better sound quality should opt for Luxury or F-Sport Series 2 packages, which comes with eight instead of the standard six speakers, but unfortunately sound quality was not substantially better than the standard system.
The UX comes standard with the latest version of Lexus Safety System + (LSS+ 2.0), which includes a pre-collision system with bicycle and pedestrian detection that is particularly useful for urban users, radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, and automatic high beam systems. A standard Lexus Safety Connect system that includes automatic collision notification and stolen vehicle locator are also standard for the 2020 Lexus UX 250h.
The 2020 Lexus UX 250h starts at an even $40,000, and our tester had the optional Luxury package which includes embedded navigation, wireless charging, head-up display, and intuitive parking assist system in a long list of additional features, for an additional $5,300.
With an as-tested price of $45,300, the 2020 Lexus UX 250h Luxury is a decent value for buyers who are looking for a urban commuter with particularly good fuel economy, and want the luxury experience without breaking the budget. Despite being down on power versus some of its key competition such as the BMW X1 (reviewed here) or the Audi Q3, the UX 250h’s smooth driving dynamics make it feel quicker than the numbers suggest, and its efficiency is the cherry on top in this hotly contested segment.