Jeffrey N. Ross | Apr 20, 2019

View the exterior features of the UX 250h

Forget what people say: size does matter. And so does luxury. If you're looking for a small vehicle packed with luxurious amenities, few do it better than the 2019 Lexus UX. As the spiritual successor to the fun-to-drive Lexus CT, the all-new UX subcompact crossover now stands as the entry-level model for Lexus, but before you go thinking that small size and affordable price means a sacrifice in luxury, give this little Lexus a chance.

Like most of the Lexus models offered today, the UX is available with a hybrid powertrain and a sporty F Sport package, which is exactly what I got to experience with a 2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport for this test drive review.


2019 Lexus UX 250h Exterior

View the exterior features of the UX 250h

As is the case with many of today's subcompact crossovers, the 2019 Lexus UX could easily pass for a hatchback, and that's actually a good thing for this design. Lexus' current design language looks really good scaled down to the UX's dimensions, and this crossover's use of the spindle grille might be one of the least polarizing applications of this now-signature styling element. But my favorite part of the UX's design is the cool little tail fins built into the taillights that help to create a more squared-off look to the rear end while revealing a unique lighting design.

Dressed up in the F Sport package, the UX looks even better with dark-finished 18-inch wheels, sportier front and rear bumpers with more dark-finish accents and a unique mesh-pattern grille design, and the cherry on top for this tester's look was the Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint job. Opting for the F Sport package adds an extra $2,000 to the bottom line, while the brilliantly blue color costs $595.

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2019 Lexus UX 250h Interior

View the interior features of the UX 250h

Buyers who want a large, cavernous vehicle won't be shopping for a vehicle like the 2019 Lexus UX in the first place, but those who are downsizing or just want a right-sized urban commuter will be blown away by how much room the UX's packaging affords. With a primary focus on being a personal luxury vehicle, the front portion of the cabin is especially roomy comfortable, supportive seats (10-way power driver's seat and eight-way power passenger seat) and a wide center console. Even the rear seats have enough headroom and legroom to fit adults far better than some of the other hatchback-looking CUVs in this segment. The UX 250h has plenty of utility, too, with 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space available behind the rear seats, and the ability fold the rear seats completely flat.

Like most current Lexus models, the 2019 Lexus UX really excels when it comes to the design, materials and technology found inside the cabin. The instrument panel is straightforward with controls that are easy to use, and just about every surface inside the UX is covered with a soft, rich material. The $2,890 F Sport Luxury Package takes things up a notch with perforated leather seats (heated and cooled front seats) as well as aluminum pedals, red accent stitching and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift levers; this tester added the $150 heated steering wheel. The best part of Lexus' F and F Sport vehicles is the motorized gauge cluster with a large digital read out and scrollable screens for various information that displays everything from fuel economy to g-forces.

This tester was also equipped with the $2,200 Navigation Package that includes a sizeable 10.3-inch display for the navigation system, an eight-speaker premium audio system and power tilt and telescoping steering column. The major gripes about the cabin include a finicky remote touch controller that takes a bit of attention to use at first, and the infotainment system that still doesn't offer Android Auto - the UX 250h does come standard with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa capability. Overall, Lexus did an excellent job of fitting a lot of luxurious content into a subcompact package.

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2019 Lexus UX 250h Powertrain

View the engine block of the UX 250h

The 2019 Lexus UX is offered with two powertrain options consisting of the UX 200 with a 2.0-liter engine and a continuously variable transmission that simulates the shifts of a 10-speed automatic transmission, and this tester was the UX 250h that pairs the same engine with a hybrid electric drivetrain.

If you want all-wheel drive, the hybrid UX is the only way to go, and this advanced powertrain also delivers incredible fuel economy with EPA-rated estimates of 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway*; after a week of mostly highway driving, which included playing around the F Sport's Sport mode, this tester showed 37.6 mpg on the trip computer.

The Lexus UX rides on the same platform as the Toyota C-HR, but these two crossovers feel nothing alike. Despite being a subcompact hybrid, the UX 250h can be fun to drive with excellent steering response and a pleasantly nimble suspension setup; it's noticeably firmer than the C-HR but not as sporty feeling as the Audi Q3. With a total system output of 181 horsepower, the 3,605-pound UX 250h is both peppy and efficient, and the hybrid system delivers seamless operation.

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2019 Lexus UX 250h Safety

View the safety features of the UX 250h

The 2019 Lexus UX (200 and 250h) received a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard safety features include 10 airbags and the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite of driver-assistance technology, which includes radar cruise control, lane departure alert and more.

Equipped with the F Sport Luxury Package, this tester also added rain-sensing wipers and blind spot monitor as well as an extra $565 for parking assist and rear cross traffic alert with automatic braking.

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2019 Lexus UX 250h Overall

View the safety features of the UX 250h

As the market for subcompact luxury crossovers continues to grow, the 2019 Lexus UX goes up against rivals like the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Volvo XC40. Not only does the bold Lexus styling help it stand out, but the hybrid powertrain allows the UX 250h to absolutely dominate the all-wheel-drive competition in regards to fuel economy.

Bottom line, this small CUV delivers big on efficiency, style and, most of all, luxury. And all of this comes with a price that is just as refreshingly small as the UX itself with a starting price of $32,300** and only a $2,000 price premium for the hybrid model. Even with an as-tested price of $43,525, this well-equipped UX 250h F Sport delivers big on value.

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Lexus UX 250h Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, AWD Crossover

Engine/Transmission

2.0L I-4 with hybrid assist

181 hp / 141 lb-ft  

Mileage

41/38 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.