Lexus UX small crossover now comes only as hybrid

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Lexus added its UX small crossover vehicle to its lineup five years ago, with gasoline-only (UX 200) and gasoline-electric hybrid (UX 250h) versions offered.

For 2023, Lexus made a few upgrades to the UX, but it mostly carried over – except for one big difference: the UX 200 model was dropped, leaving only the UX 250h hybrid version in the lineup.

The 2024 models are already arriving at dealerships, basically with no changes from 2023. As with the previous year, the UX 250h comes in either front- or all-wheel-drive versions.

Added for 2023 and carrying over for 2024 are two versions of the uplevel F Sport models, the F Sport Design (2024 base price $40,350) and F Sport Handling ($45,320).

Prices for front-drive models for 2024 begin at $36,490 for the base, $38,950 for the Premium or the F Sport Design model, and $43,920 for the F Sport Handling version.

All-wheel drive versions are $37,890 for the base, $40,350 for the Premium or F Sport Design, and $45,320 for the F Sport Handling.  

The 2023 enhancements included the addition of the Lexus Interface, a larger touch screen and Lexus Safety System-plus 2.5.

Other improvements for 2023 included a more-refined driving experience brought by updates to steering response, handling stability and ride quality.

Structural rigidity was improved by adding 20 spot-welding points on the body, and the electronic power steering and shock absorbers were re-calibrated accordingly.

Improved noise and vibration reduction were achieved with the addition of newly developed Bridgestone 18-inch run-flat tires on the new UX models.

Also for 2023, the UX 250h F Sport model’s driving appearance and sportiness have been further enhanced through new F Sport Design and F Sport Handling versions.

On the exterior, both models have F Sport wheels, grille, dark roof rails, a black roof, power tilt-and-slide moon roof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, fog and cornering lights, automatic headlight leveling and painted wheel-arch molding.

For this report, we tested the 2023 F Sport Handling AWD model ($43,605 plus freight and options).

The F Sport Handling package adds standard performance dampers and the Active Variable Suspension. The rear performance dampers are designed to absorb body flex and minor vibrations to help sharpen handling and improve overall ride comfort and quietness, Lexus says.

In addition, damping force adjustment helps simultaneously maintain a flat posture and absorb excess shock, even on uneven or bumpy surfaces. This brings enhanced steering response and stability, along with a more-comfortable ride.

There are special interior features with the F Sport Handling package, as well. They include an aluminum footrest and scuff plate in addition to F Sport-exclusive sports seats, steering wheel, shift knob, meters and aluminum sport pedals.

The driver and front passenger get heated and ventilated F Sport seats with memory. A digital key, heated auto-dimming side mirrors with memory, and auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink also come with the F Sport Handling model.

Overall, the UX is low and sleek with a coupe-like appearance. It’s built on the same basic architecture as the Toyota CH-R, with a common wheelbase length – 103.9 inches. The UX is a bit longer overall, however – 177 inches versus the C-HR’s 172.6.

The hybrid drive system comes with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine plus an electric motor. The system has a combined 181 horsepower (gasoline engine and electric motor).

Fuel-economy ratings for the AWD hybrid system are 41 mpg city/38 highway/39 combined (43/41/42 with front drive).

The UX and C-HR are built on the same basic architecture, with a common wheelbase length – 103.9 inches. The UX is a bit longer overall, however – 177 inches versus the C-HR’s 172.6. The UX also has a bit more passenger room, at 90.4 cubic feet (88.5 with the moon roof), compared with 86 cubic feet for the C-HR.

Cargo space is 17.1 cubic feet behind the rear seat.

As light as the UX is – with aluminum doors, fenders and hood, and a composite power tailgate – this engine and motor combo gave us plenty of power with lots of low-end torque.

The UX is officially in what the auto industry calls the “B-segment,” which also includes premium models such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Buick Encore, Infiniti QX30 and Volvo XC40, among others.

These are crossovers slightly smaller than the compact models the size of the Lexus NX and its corresponding Toyota model, the RAV4.

Lexus says the UX name stands for “urban crossover,” and that it’s designed for “the modern urban explorer.” It was the first Lexus to be built on Toyota’s new Global Architecture Compact, featuring a “lightweight yet super-rigid structure, extremely low center of gravity and refined suspension” intended to provide a combination of sporty handling and ride comfort. It’s also styled to stand out in the crowd of small crossovers.

Even with its small exterior dimensions, the UX is surprisingly roomy and comfortable, with decent space for up to four people, or five with a small person or child riding in the middle of the back seat. The driver’s seat is accommodating even for larger people, and the driver’s seat position and door opening made it easy for me to enter and exit. Toyota says that was one of the goals in designing the UX.

The UX cabin was quiet even at highway speeds. We could carry on conversations without raising our voices, even with backseat passengers. Noise reduction was aided by the use of high-strength steel and sound-absorbing materials throughout the body.

Leather seats are not offered, even on the Luxury model. All UX versions come with the Lexus NuLuxe synthetic leather upholstery, and the steering wheel is leather wrapped.

Standard safety features include the Lexus Safety System-Plus, with Lane Tracing Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist and a Pre-Collision System that can recognize pedestrians at night.  The radar system also can detect cyclists during the day.

Our tester came with the moon roof, rain-sensing wipers, heated/ventilated front seats, power rear door, auto-dimming driver’s side mirror with auto reverse tilt-down and memory, easy-access driver’s seat with memory, and blind-spot monitor.

A 12.3-inch touch screen is used with the Lexus Navigation system. We also had a 10-speaker Lexus premium audio system, automatic-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, and a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard.

UX drivers can lock/unlock doors, start the engine, or check the fuel level from a smartphone or even a smart watch, Amazon Alexa-enabled, or Google Assist device. It’s voice controllable and compatible with select Android or Apple devices. A 4GB Wi-Fi Hotspot allows a user device to become an internet access point.

Our tester came in the Iridium (silver) exterior color with the Obsidian (black) contrasting roof ($500 extra for the premium paint). The interior was Circuit Red NuLuxe with black trim.

With the basic F-Sport package comes exclusive suspension tuning with springs and stabilizer bars set up for a tighter ride. Also included are 18-inch, five twin-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels; an exclusive mesh grille with individual L-shaped pieces; a special front bumper with large LED fog light bezels with L-shaped chrome moldings, cornering lamps and the same mesh pattern as the grille; a unique rear bumper; and jet-black trim on the front and rear moldings.

Interior F-Sport features include front sports seats made with a highly supportive integrated foam; a digital instrument meter with a movable ring inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar; a perforated-leather-trimmed F-Sport steering wheel with paddle shifters; perforated-leather-trimmed shift knob; and aluminum pedals, door scuff plates and footrest.

Also included is Active Sound Control for the CVT, which “generates the aural effect of up- and down-shifts like those of a geared automatic transmission,” Lexus says.

Extras on our UX 250h F Sport Handling model included a head-up display ($900); windshield de-icer ($100); intuitive parking assist ($565); F Sport heated steering wheel ($150); power rear hatch with kick sensor ($550); and wireless phone charger ($75).

Total sticker price for our 2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport Handling AWD model was $47,595, including freight and options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at or on Twitter @gchambers3. His driving partner Emma Jayne Williams contributed to this report.

2023/24 Lexus UX 250h

There is room for up to five people in the 2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport hybrid crossover.

There is room for up to five people in the 2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport hybrid crossover.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

The package: Premium, subcompact, five-door, four-cylinder, front- or all-wheel-drive, five-passenger, gasoline-electric hybrid crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: Lexus joined the growing small SUV (“B”) segment with the 2019 introduction of the UX, a crossover based on the Toyota C-HR, with a stylish coupe-like exterior, well-designed interior and sporty handling. Originally offered in regular gasoline-only (UX 200) and hybrid (UX 250h) versions, the UX 200 was discontinued after the 2022 model year.

Negatives: Back seat tight for three adults; limited rearward visibility for driver.

Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder driving front wheels, combined with electric motor driving rear wheels.

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic with 10-speed sport-shift manual mode.

Power: 181 combined system horsepower (gasoline engine/electric motor).

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock, with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Electronic stability control: Standard, including traction control.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain, both rows.

Overall length: 177 inches.

Cargo capacity: 17.1 cubic feet (behind rear seat).

Curb weight range: 3,483-3,605 pounds.

Towing capacity: Towing not recommended.

Fuel capacity/type: 10.6 gallons/unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy:  41 mpg city/38 highway/39 combined.

Base price range (2024): $36,490-$45,320, plus $1,150 freight.

Price as tested: $47,595, including freight and options (2023 UX 250h F Sport).

On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

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