The Lexus UX 250h F Sport is a compact hybrid luxury crossover that feels ample and relaxed, and it packs lots of comfort and style into a small package.
What is it?
The compact crossover market is hot as Hades, and the UX series faces foes from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and Volvo. The UX 250h hybrid version examined here adds extra efficiency to clearly distinguish it from the field.
Pricing and trims
Competitively priced at just over $35,000 (including the $1,025 destination charge), the UX 250h’s base prices bump up to either the tested F Sport ($37,175) or Luxury ($40,375).
The tested UX 250h F Sport rang in at $42,785, and its options were worthwhile. The $595 Blue Mica paint shimmered in the sun.
The $600 Power Rear Door with Kick Sensor allowed for multiple means of entry and closure, and it proved to be a real convenience on the errand run.
The $975 F Sport Premium Package includes the moonroof, along with rain-sensing wipers and heated front seats.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the highly for crash protection and active safety features, with headlight range being the only ding.
An array of protective measures comprises the UX’s standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, with recent advances in pedestrian and bicyclist detection. Dynamic Cruise Control with Lane Tracing is a small step toward autonomous driving and potentially a big relief while commuting in heavy traffic.
Critical consensus on the UX pegs it as a mild performer, and this was a surprise to your writer after a spirited run out to the coast with it.
Granted, there is a learning curve in extracting maximum performance from any hybrid, and the UX can be caught feeling flat-footed as it is asked to accelerate from a rolling stop. And yep, there’s only so much one can do with the 181 total system horsepower generated by the 2.0-liter engine and hybrid additions.
But then the UX 250h’s Sport mode wakes things up, and that’s where the fun comes in. Once you get the UX moving, the extra responsiveness of Sport mode keeps a bubble of power under your right foot, and it lends the UX 250h F Sport a nimble feel.
The F Sport package adds paddle shifters to the hybrid transmission, which can also be run through a gear program via the shifter’s up-and-down gate. The hybrid system’s response could occasionally could seem slack, but here again, Sport mode was effective in tightening things up.
Note the dust that collects under the floating selector pod. Definitely a car in which you’d want to keep a dust cloth.
Ride and handling
Lexus says the F Sport package comes with 18-inch wheels that are more rigid than those on standard UXs. We’d wish for more communication between them and the driver, but routine handling is hard to fault, particularly with the stiffer underpinnings included in the F Sport package.
Even with the extra stiffness, the tested UX 250h F Sport’s highway ride was very smooth. And the tester endeared itself around town, with a tight turning radius of less than 35 feet and a very parkable, 177-inch overall length.
Now we get to the UX 250h F Sport’s best parts. The sport seats included with the F Sport package were cozy, enough that those with broad shoulders would want to check if the upper bolsters are invasive. But most will find them nice and snug, and the padded console provides a comfy place to park for the driver’s right leg.
From the coupe-like rake on the rear glass, you’d think the UX 250h F Sport’s rear seat would be confining, but it is surprisingly quite accommodating.
All your parts reside in scooped-out coves, and the narrow windows and great sweeps of black plastic conspire to make it pretty dark back there. But it works, with head and knee space aplenty for a six-footer sitting behind another six-footer.
Cargo space checks in at 17.1 cubic feet. That’s skimpy for an SUV of any size, but the UX 250h F Sport’s high load floor serves up your gym bag and groceries with minimal bending-over. It seems tailor-made for a single person making the usual purchasing rounds.
Underneath the load floor where the not-included spare tire would go are cubbies for small items.
Infotainment and controls
Lexus succeeded in creating a cockpit-like feel for the Lexus UX 250h F Sport, where hard edges peacefully coexist with naturally-defined curves. You sit low, but visibility is decent, and the hard controls are quickly learned.
The wide center screen is unobtrusive while still displaying lots of information, and the clock is a nice touch.
Graphics are amusingly ghostly, and though the interface works smoothly, it’s still best to dial yourself in before getting underway, for minimum distraction.
The Lexus touchpad is happily augmented in the UX 250h F Sport with hard controls for high-demand functions.
Lexus bills the UX series as a “Creative Urban Explorer” design. Setting aside hopeful hubris leaves us with “urban“, which is where the tested UX 250h F Sport immediately ingratiated itself. It’s a vehicle that fits right in to the run-around-town lifestyle.
But this unfairly de-emphasizes the UX 250h F Sport’s commuting prowess. It’s a quiet and comfortable cruising capsule with labor-saving helpers like Dynamic Cruise Control with Lane Tracing. They are stress reducers that could provide real value over time for the supercommuters among us.
As the UX 250h’s default mode can seem a little sleepy, it seems essential to opt for the F Sport package, for the extra responsiveness it brings. It’s nice that the UX 250h is so ample and relaxed; and it is nicer that its edges can be defined more clearly with the right combination of features and settings.
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport
Base price: $36,000
Price as tested, including $1,025 destination charge: $42,785
Blind Spot Monitor: $500
Wireless Charger: $75
Windshield Deicer: $100
Navigation System: $2,200
- 10.3-inch Color Multimedia Display
- Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation (Complimentary Up To Three Years)
- Dynamic Voice Command
- Lexus Enform Destination Assist (Complimentary One Year)
- Eight-Speaker Lexus Premium Sound System
- Auto-Dim Inner Mirror with HomeLink
- Power Tilt/Telescopic Steering Wheel
Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert With Braking: $565
Power Rear Door With Kick Sensor: $600
Premium Paint: $595
F Sport Premium Package: $975
- Rain Sensing Wipers
- Heated Front Seats
Heated F Sport Steering Wheel w/Paddle Shifters: $150
- Comfortable interior
- Substantial feel in a tidy size
- Spacious rear seats
- Hybrid efficiency
- F Sport options seem essential for a fun driving experience
- Concentration-requiring controls for center screen