UX is the abbreviation for user experience. It’s also the smallest of Lexus’ U.S.-market crossovers, one that’s more an oversized hatchback than a true SUV. In that sense, it’s no different than its many competitors, including the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLB, Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40.
But it’s among Lexus’s least popular sport-utility vehicles, which begs the question of does the UX live up to a potential buyer’s expectations?
Well, it depends what they are. We tested a 250h F Sport Handling — a new trim for 2023 — for a week. Here’s what we found.
The Lexus UX gets a makeover for 2023 and is offered solely as a hybrid. As before, it still rides atop Toyota’s Global Architecture Compact (GA-C) platform that also underpins the Toyota Corolla Hatchback and the late, unlamented Toyota C-HR. It’s offered in ascending Base, Premium, F Sport Design and F Sport Handling trim levels, with prices starting at $35,925, plus destination, taxes and options. Of the two F Sport trims, Design offers the exterior appearance of an F Sport, but without the specially tuned F Sport suspension. As you might imagine, the Handling trim does and includes an adaptive variable suspension.
Thankfully, Lexus has toned down the UX’s design for 2023, with body colored fender trim rather than the black plastic previously used. It looks far more sophisticated and more in line with what’s expected of a Lexus.
The rest of the styling resembles that of the brand’s other SUV designs, with a large spindle grille up front and more than a little side sculpting to visually lengthen the car. Its size seems perfect for urban environs, but there’s no hiding its compact length, something that’s particularly true once inside.
While the Lexus UX’s revised interior places the multimedia touchscreen high on the instrument panel, where it’s easy to reach, the IP feels as if it’s placed high in the car. Head and leg room are generous up front, but legroom in particular is nearly non-existent in the second row. And the 17.1-cubic-foot cargo hold is adequate, but not overly spacious, something than can be said of the whole car. But if you don’t use a rear seat often, the lack of space shouldn’t be an issue.
That said, some of the materials felt more Toyota than Lexus, particularly the hard sides of the center console. This vehicle doesn’t seem to have the same level of poshness as its larger siblings. But it is as quiet and driver’s seating position is good. F-Sport Handling models come with more supportive front seats.
For the first time, buyers can get their UX with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. But there’s only one powertrain: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with three electric motors and a continuously variable transmission. It generates 181 horsepower and 0-60 mph times of 8.4 seconds with front-wheel drive, while returning an EPA-rated 41 mpg, dropping to 39 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Opting for the F Sport Handling nets an F Sport tuned suspension with adaptive dampers.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2023 Lexus UX.
The 2023 Lexus UX comes with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 includes blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning with automatic braking, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, lane-departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist and automatic high beams.
An 8-inch display is standard, a 12.3-inch screen is optional. Both use the new version of brand’s’ Interface touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates an integrated voice assistant and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new system is far more intuitive to use than the excessively cumbersome previous system, which lacked Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
With 181 hp moving around 3,600+ pounds, you wouldn’t expect the 2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport to be fast — and it isn’t. It’s quick off-the-line, but its lack of power soon makes itself evident.
While the continuously variable transmission doesn’t help, it’s well-mannered for such a unit. But it does return stellar fuel economy in exchange for its lack of speed. And its powertrain is fairly refined, with an inherent smoothness occasionally interrupted by the moaning 4-cylinder engine.
Steering feel is good and fairly quick, while the F Sport’s adaptive suspension delivers a premium ride, offering secure handling. Its overall demeanor is more of a large hatchback than a true SUV, as it delivers a quiet, comfortable driving experience. But don’t look for any excitement; the user experience in the UX delivers good fuel economy, not driving thrills, even in F Sport trim.
2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport Specifications
|177 inches/W: 72.5 inches/H: 60.6 inches/Wheelbase: 104 inches
|2.0-liter 4-cylinder/three-motor hybrid, continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive
|41 mpg city/38 mpg highway/39 mpg combined
|181 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $43,605; As tested: $47,690 including $1,150 destination charge.
Small in stature and horsepower, the diminutive UX delivers stellar fuel economy and stately performance. The revised infotainment system and styling updates make it a more appealing proposition. But its pricetag seems pricey for what you get, and other compact luxury SUVs seem to be a far better value. That said, the UX does deliver some Lexus goodness in a small package, which is ideal for those who don’t use a back seat or require a small, urban-friendly vehicle.
2023 Lexus UX 250h — Frequently Asked Questions
Does Lexus UX 250h need premium gas?
No, it runs on regular unleaded gasoline.
How many miles does a hybrid Lexus last?
Under normal conditions, you can expect Lexus hybrid car batteries to last up to 150,000 miles or 15 years and sometimes even longer.
Is the Lexus UX self-charging?