Lexus brings a new compact SUV for those who don’t need a big vehicle, but still want something luxurious and fuel efficient. The 2019 Lexus UX 250h is a new vehicle from the luxury division of Toyota that slots below the NX in the Lexus stable. It comes with Toyota’s proven hybrid system and reputation for reliability, along with contemporary styling and strong fuel economy in one small package.
This week, we drove the 2019 Lexus UX 250h with all-wheel drive.
The 2019 Lexus UX 250h is an all-new model. Lexus says they have drawn on Japanese traditions in craftsmanship and hospitality for the new UX. This was done to appeal especially to younger consumers who are buying their first luxury vehicle.
Features & Options: Connectivity & Safety
The 2019 Lexus UX 250h AWD ($34,000) comes standard with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, heated side mirrors, automatic wipers, proximity entry and push-button start, and selectable drive modes. On the inside, there’s dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, simulated-leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and a 60/40-split folding rear seat.
Technology highlights include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, an infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen display, smartphone app-based navigation, and on-board Wi-Fi. Four USB ports and Apple CarPlay increase connectivity and infotainment inside the cabin. The six-speaker audio system and satellite radio are a nice treat for music lovers. Safety features like pedestrian detection and lane departure warning are standard on the UX, thanks to Lexus’ comprehensive Safety System+ 2.0.
This tester came with a few extra options: Blind Spot Monitor, rear across traffic alert, power rear liftgate with kick sensor, Triple Beam LED headlights, navigation, and heated and ventilated front seats. Total MSRP including destination: $42,060. By comparison, the non-hybrid UX starts at $32,000.
The 2019 Lexus UX 250h is a compact SUV so it’s a bit tight inside, but there’s plenty of seat adjustments for taller drivers. However, if you have an adult sitting in the rear, they won’t have much room with the front seat all the way back. We took four friends to dinner this week and the guys in back were cramped. For a company vehicle, it will work around town, but you won’t want much more than a short trip. For a long business trip, it would be tight.
Up front, there is a large infotainment display, and all of the controls are easy to reach. The materials are not what you would expect from Lexus, but for an entry-level luxury vehicle it’s tolerable. The fit and finish is generally up to par, although our only complaint is with the Remote Touch interface. We struggle with the overly sensitive touchpad and always seem to have issues with it in every Lexus vehicle we review.
There is also a new and interesting way to adjust the radio volume. On the center stack there are little wheels that are supposed to be easily turnable by your fingers if your hand is resting at the end of the armrest. It took us a week to learn which way was up and down. It might look cool but it’s hardly intuitive.
With the rear seats folded, the cargo space is usable for groceries and smaller cargo and luggage. Overall, the UX 250h offers up 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space. That should be enough room for gear if you like to go on outdoor adventures.
The 2019 Lexus UX 250h is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, two motor-generator, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. This setup provides a total of 181 horsepower and drives the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. A third electric motor powers the rear wheels when extra traction is needed. EPA fuel mileage estimates are 41/38 city/highway and 39 combined.
The non-hybrid UX, with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, delivers 169 horsepower to the front wheels. A 10-speed Direct Shift CVT helps disperse the power to the pavement. EPA fuel mileage estimates for the non-hybrid UX come in at 29/37 city/highway and 33 combined.
Driving Dynamics: Plenty of Zip & Grip
The hybrid’s 181 horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but the electric motors help give the compact SUV an instant surge of power when you need it. We found it to have plenty, as we were able to get the UX moving up the mountains at altitude west of Denver. While it’s no sports car, the UX 250h is stable and fun to throw around tight mountain curves. The MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension with trailing arms are both mounted to sub-frames. The design helps plant the UX to the road.
It has enough zip to get around traffic on city streets too. The 2019 Lexus UX is a good size for urban commuting, and is easy to park and drive on narrow streets. The cabin is quiet, and with all the connectivity features it’s a good place to escape after a long day. We especially liked the peace of mind we had driving through the city with the standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. The advanced safety technologies are one of the high points of the UX.
Conclusion: A Good Fit
If you don’t need a lot of cargo and people-carrying ability, the 2019 Lexus UX is a good daily driver. It has the luxury car feel without the big price tag. Just don’t get too carried away with the many options available. Other than that, the UX should fit most budgets nicely.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
2019 Lexus UX Gallery
Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (additional trim levels shown).