2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport AWD Review

The brand's recipe for affordable excellence


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: More fun to drive than its power indicates, great interior space and materials, solid efficiency numbers, looks good with F Sport trim.
Negatives: Infotainment still requires too much time and effort, could use about 25 more ponies, cargo space is a bit tight with the battery.
Bottom Line: The UX 250h F Sport costs about $2,050 more than the gas version, but it offers a bit more power and better efficiency. The driving experience isn't all that different, so it's a preference issue. Overall, the UX 250h is a remarkably good car to drive, and it has more space and refinement than you expect. It's one of Lexus's best.
The UX doesn't deviate all that much in styling from the radical concept, and you'd never guess by looking at it (especially in F Sport trim) that it's Lexus's entry-level vehicle. In hybrid form, it offers up better efficiency and more power. Even optioned out, it's still priced just a few thousand dollars more than the average new car price in 2019. The UX 200 F Sport we drove earlier in the year impressed us, so we were excited to try the hybrid version. We drove it for a full week, and our full review follows.
 

Driving Experience

8.7

 

The UX 250h is interesting to drive. It's not powerful, fast, or especially great in terms of handling. But it's competent and fun, nevertheless. Push it too hard, and it gets a little dicey, but in everyday normal driving, it's quite pleasant.

Ride Quality: On the firm side with the F Sport suspension, the UX 250h still rides comfortably.

Acceleration: The UX 250h is about half a second faster than its naturally-aspirated brother, hitting 60 in about 8 seconds. The CVT is one of the better systems, too.

Braking: The regen brakes feel weird like most systems of this nature, but they do help it stop shorter than the UX 200.

Steering: Despite the fact that there's little feedback, turn-in is very good, and there's a modicum of effort.

Handling: The lower center of gravity due to the battery helps the UX 250h handle corners a little better than the UX 200. The car feels balanced, but you can't push it too hard in the turns.

Technology

8

 

The Enform system needs a serious overhaul, but in the UX 250h, it's not the worst of its kind. We do like the option to perform some of the audio control on the little dials on the hand controls in the center console.

Infotainment System: The 7" screen that comes standard looks good and has solid resolution, but the optional 10.3" screen is way better.

Controls: The excellent rotary audio/media dials that rotate and push for selection work very well, but the touchpad is still a nightmare to use. The drive mode stalks on the instrument binnacle are unique touches that are easy to operate.

Styling

8.4

 

The UX 250h F Sport looks great in person, way better than in photographs. It comes across as more of a premium hatchback than a crossover due to its low ride height, and the dramatic bulges and styling elements work better on it than on other Lexus models (ahem, LX 570).

Front: The F Sport grille is big bold, and attractive, and the large faux intakes add to the aggressiveness.

Rear: We love the single bar LED taillight with the protruding fins. The UX 250h looks fresh and original from the back.

Profile: From this angle, the UX looks a bit awkward. The short rear overhang is betrayed by the tail section that protrudes, and the front overhang seems overly long.

Cabin: In one of the best executed Lexus cabins, the UX 250h's interior is youthful and refined. Lexus did a fine job creating clean lines and great materials.

Comfort

8.2

 

Though the UX is small, it can comfortably accommodate adults in both rows. Lexus did a great job with the overall layout, and they did an excellent job with seat comfort. Some rear plastic bits are definitely from Toyota, but overall the execution is very good.

Front Seats: The F Sport seats provide top notich comfort thanks to a great shape, as well as the right amount of bolstering and cushioning.

Rear Seats: Seating two in back is no problem. There's actually a pretty good amount of legroom for medium-sized adults. The middle position is only for short distances, though.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Although the cabin is quiet, there is some wind noise at higher speeds. You can also hear the hybrid system when the car is pushed, but it's by no means intrusive.

Visibility: Sightlines out the front and sides are pretty good, but the rear is obscured by thick pillars and headrests that block the small rear window.

Climate: The climate system fired up quickly, and the heated seats are very warm. We love the switches/buttons that mimic the fancier ones on the LC luxury coupe.

Safety

9.5

 

Last time we tested the UX 200, it had not been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. Now, scores are out, and the UX nailed them both with flying colors.

IIHS Rating: The UX model gets the Top Safety Pick+ award by earning "good" in all crash tests, as well as "superior" accident avoidance tech, "good" LATCH usage, and "good" headlights depending on trim level.

NHTSA Rating: The UX gets five stars from the federal government.

Standard Tech: The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 gets a ton of great features that put it at the top of the heap, including intelligent cruise control, Road Sign Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, and Intelligent High Beams. The adaptive cruise control works remarkably well with quick responses and ease of use.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with Parking Assista and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert w/ Braking.

Storage/Cargo

6.8

 

There's not a lot of rear cargo room, but the space that exists is useful. The battery compromises some of the rear cargo room, but it's still about the size of a practical hatchback.

Storage Space: There's a flat storage spot under the center stack, conveniently placed cupholders, and a decenlty sized armrest.

Cargo Room: 17.1 cubic feet behind the second row is good for a few grocery bags or some luggage. With the seats down, it's 52.3 cubic feet. That's just a tad bit smaller than the Volkswagen Golf and the BMW X1.

Fuel Economy

8.8

 

Our efficiency numbers were really good, despite the fact that we drove the UX 250h F Sport pretty hard all week to eke out as much power as possible. Owners will no doubt find even greater success at meeting EPA figures under more conservative driving.

Observed: 35.0 mpg.

Distance Driven: 163 miles.

Audio

8

 

The premium 8-speaker system comes standard and sounds great. The tester we had was well-outfitted, and the upgraded system (compared to the stock 6-speaker) is one of the better systems we've experienced at this price.



Final Thoughts

The UX 250h (and the UX 200) are conundrums. They're no sports cars, and with their standard FWD setup, they're not exactly rugged. But the whole package comes together nicely thanks to thoughtful styling and interior layout. Materials at this price are top notch, and the UX looks great in F Sport trim. For those young folks who want a premium brand without paying through the nose, the UX presents a great option, and in hybrid form, it's actually quite a good deal. Lexus could give it more power next time around, but the finished product is a very good one and worthy of consideration when shopping for a premium compact hybrid.
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