2020 Lexus UXh 8

2020 Lexus UX 250h Review: Just How Good Is This “Urban Explorer?”

2020 Lexus UXh 10
2020 Lexus UX
In Our Opinion:
The 2020 Lexus UX is a luxurious small crossover with a nice array of standard features. It's ideal for city driving and is easy to park. Connectivity is a strong point too, as the UX has a number of apps built-in, like Spotify and Waze. Cargo space should be enough for the daily drive, but if you carry larger items on a regular basis, the UX may not fit your needs.
Exterior Styling
Interior Layout
Driving Dynamics
Safety & Tech Features
Everyday Functionality
Fuel Economy
Safety Features
Driving Dynamics
Small Rear Seat
Limited Cargo Area
Infotainment System

If you are in the market for a smaller, yet luxurious SUV with excellent fuel mileage, the 2020 Lexus UX is a relatively affordable option. Gas prices won’t stay this low forever, and when they do go back up, this Lexus model will deliver in a big way. If you need to carry more people and extra cargo, you will need something larger, but otherwise, the UX is ideal for city driving.

This week, we drove the 2020 Lexus UX 250h with the F Sport package.

What The F Sport Package Includes

The F Sport package adds a sport-tuned suspension; 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels; LED fog lights and cornering lamps; an augmented engine sound generator; steering-wheel paddle shifters; front seats with additional foam treatments for support; aluminum pedals; and an upgraded digital gauge cluster.

Lexus UX: What’s New For 2020?

Lexus adds Android Auto and Google Assistant to the UX for the 2020 model year. Rear cross-traffic alert is now available with a blind-spot monitor. The 2020 UX is the first Lexus constructed on the automaker’s Global Architecture Compact (GA-C) platform. 

The “h” designation means hybrid, which is officially called the UX 250h. The gasoline-powered version is denoted as the UX 200.

2020 Lexus UX 250h.
2020 Lexus UX 250h.

Features & Options: F Sport Treatments

Our 2020 Lexus UX 250h F Sport tester ($36,350) came standard with LED headlights; dual-zone automatic climate control; simulated leather upholstery; eight-way power-adjustable front seats; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and a six-speaker audio system. Our tester also came with the Lexus Remote Touch Interface with haptic feedback. A switch below the touch pad controls different functions like air conditioning and navigation.

Features & Options: Safety First

Advanced safety features (Lexus Safety System+ 2.0) included pedestrian detection; radar cruise control; lane centering assist; lane departure alert; and intelligent high beams. Our tester also had a heads-up display.

Optional for the base UX is the Premium F Sport package ($1,475). That package adds heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a sunroof, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and rain sensing wipers.

How Much Does The 2020 Lexus UX Cost?

Total MSRP, including destination, for our 2020 Lexus UX 250h: $42,890. By comparison, the UX 200 starts at $32,300, while the hybrid version starts at $34,350.

If you are considering a new UX 250h, this free and easy search tool* will help you find the best price. Depending on local incentives and inventory in your area, you may be able to purchase below MSRP. 

2020 Lexus UX 250h.
The “UX” in Lexus UX stands for “urban explorer.”

Interior Highlights: Sporty & Fun

What sets the Lexus UX 250h apart from the more standard models? The F Sport trim! And it’s worth it. Our tester had comfy sport seats that gave us extra bolstering for more spirited driving. The steering wheel gets paddle shifters allowing enthusiasts to make manual shifts. Even though the UX 250h is geared toward efficiency, the F Sport does feature aluminum pedals for a sports sedan feel inside. 

The F Sport also receives an eight-inch, multi-information display and the Active Sound Control feature. The latter is an engine sound generator that brings everything into the cabin. We enjoyed it each time we jumped on the aluminum gas pedal.

Interior Highlights: Just (Barely) Enough Room

All controls are easy to reach and the quality of materials is about what we would expect from an entry-level, luxury SUV. It’s a bit tight inside at times, but there’s plenty of seat room for taller drivers with the 10-way power adjustments. 

With the rear seats folded, the UX will accommodate groceries and smaller luggage. Overall, the UX 250h offers up 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space. That should be enough room for some light gear if you like to go on outdoor adventures, but you can’t pack too much. It doesn’t take long to fill up the rear cargo area.

Lexus UX rear seat layout.
Lexus UX rear seat layout.

Interior Highlights: One Thing We Don’t Like

As with other Lexus vehicles, we struggled with the Remote Touch Interface because of its overly sensitive touch pad. We always seem to have issues with it in every Lexus vehicle we drive and review. Adjusting the radio volume is a bit different in the UX 250 as well. On the center stack there are little wheels that are supposed to be easily turned 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. It’s more annoying than anything.  

Otherwise, the 2020 Lexus UX is loaded with connectivity features. Spotify, Pandora, WhatsApp, Google Maps, and Waze are all available through Google Assistant. For an added touch, Lexus Enform Destination Assist (complimentary for three years) acts as an in-vehicle personal concierge. You can actually have directions delivered by a live agent when you drive. 

Engine & Powertrain

The 2020 Lexus UX 250h is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, along with a 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.

The Lexus UX 200 is powered by the same engine with a 10-speed automatic. The UX 200 produces 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. of torque.

Is The 2020 Lexus UX All-Wheel Drive?

Yes, but only as a hybrid – a third electric motor powers the rear wheels when extra traction is needed for all-wheel drive and all-weather capability. But there is one caveat: the all-wheel drive system only works at speeds up to 42 mph.

The gasoline-powered UX 200 is strictly front-wheel drive.

Gas Mileage of The 2020 Lexus UX

EPA fuel mileage estimates are 41/38 city/highway and 39 combined for the UX 250h with all-wheel drive. The front-wheel drive UX 250h comes in at 43/41 city/highway and 42 combined. By comparison, the UX 200 returns 29/37 city/highway and 33 combined.

2020 Lexus UX 250h.

Driving Dynamics: Stable & Steady

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 suspension tuning of the F Sport trim makes the compact SUV a bit more fun to drive in the curves. The 18-inch run flat tires are harder than the normal tires and give it a firmer ride over the non-F Sport model. The UX’s body structure makes use of high-tensile steel, high-strength adhesives, and laser screw welding, all of which make the compact SUV feel stable.

In the city, the UX 250h is the perfect size to navigate packed streets. It has plenty of zip to get around traffic, but it’s also easy to park. 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.

2020 Lexus UX 250h.

Conclusion: Good For The Money

If you don’t need to haul a lot of cargo, the 2020 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

Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

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