It’s not easy to be surprised these days, but the all-new 2019 Lexus UX250h caught me off guard. The UX, derived from “urban x-over”, is designed to be a gateway to the Lexus brand, a compact crossover that introduces buyers to luxury appointments and features. With an all-new 2.0L four-cylinder engine and available hybrid all-wheel-drive system, the UX brings a Lexus level of luxury down into the compact segment.
Build on the Global Architecture Compact (GA-C) platform shared with vehicles like the all-new Toyota Corolla and C-HR, we knew the new UX would be a delight to drive. Our F Sport UX250h features unique suspension tuning for a tighter ride and unique alloy wheels. That same F Sport trim level also adds a unique grille, exclusive front and rear bumpers, front sport seats, perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and a unique F Sport instrument cluster. Clad in the attention-grabbing Redline paint, the little UX is a head turner.
The UX’s chiseled shape is carefully crafted to be aggressive looking, but aerodynamically efficient. The shape of the wheel arches, rear tail lights, rear spoiler, and flat underbody all help improve efficiency and reduce wind noise. Paired with a new generation of run-flat tires and the use of sound-absorbing and insulating materials, the UX is whisper quiet at all speeds. That alone would give the UX a premium feel, but the interior materials and craftsmanship elevate it to a true luxury level. The cabin is laid out with an elevated seating position and driver-centric controls. Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface with haptic feedback is the brand’s best attempt at an infotainment interface, but it still falls behind the competition.
The UX250h hybrid system combines the 2.0L four-cylinder from the UX200 with two electric motors in an all-new front transaxle. The system was designed to be smaller, lighter, and more efficient than previous Lexus hybrid systems. In all-wheel-drive models like our tester, a third, separate electric motor is integrated into the rear differential. With a combined 181 total horsepower, the UX delivers more-than adequate power for everyday driving. Notably, the speed at which the internal combustion engine can shut off has been raised from 43mph to 71mph. The transition to full electric highway driving wouldn’t be discernible if things didn’t go so eerily quiet in the middle of your morning commute.
With the UX’s general size, appearance, and underlying platform resembling the Toyota C-HR, it’s easy to be deluded into thinking that this could be a dilution of the Lexus brand. And to be honest, those preconceived notions caused me to doubt the UX. But after a week behind the wheel, that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. The thoughtfulness of each detail paired with a segment-leading hybrid drivetrain and some serious engineering prowess has delivered the best compact crossover to date. A true luxury experience wrapped up into a tiny package delivered a unexpected impact.
|2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport||$36,000|
|F Sport Luxury Package||$2,890|
|Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert||$565|
|Heated F Sport Steering Wheel w/ Paddle Shifters||$150|
|As Tested MSRP||$43,930|