- Doors and Seats
- Engine Power
- Ancap Safety
The UX compact SUV is the most affordable way to get a Lexus, but it’s still loaded with features, as Glenn Butler discovers.
- Economical and enthusiastic
- Easy to drive around town
- Lots of techy stuff to play with
- Tight rear door and smallish boot
- At $70K drive-away it’s not cheap
- Touchpad is hard to use
Lexus calls the UX compact premium SUV a gateway model, which is a fancy way of saying it’s the cheapest and smallest car in the range and will therefore introduce the Lexus brand to some buyers.
Prices for the UX range start from $44,450 for the UX200 FWD Luxury spec, stretching to $64,100 for the UX250h AWD Sports Luxury, both before on-road costs.
There are three mechanical configurations across the eight-variant UX range. The most affordable variant is the UX200 that is powered by a 126kW 2.0-litre petrol engine driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Above that sits the UX250h, which has a detuned 107kW version of that same engine coupled to an 80kW electric motor, which makes it a faster performer overall and also more economical.
In November 2021, Lexus added the fully electric UX300e to the range, priced from $74,000 up to $81,000 plus on-road costs. This variant has a 150kW electric motor driving the front wheels, drawing power from a 54.3kWh lithium-ion battery. Lexus claims it will do 360km on a single charge, although Europe’s more stringent WLTP test cycle reports 315km.
The UX’s body dimensions of 4495mm length, 1840mm width and 1520mm height make it roughly the same size as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and slightly bigger than the BMW X2, its two main rivals in the small premium SUV market segment.
Today we’re testing the 2021 Lexus UX250h Sports Luxury FWD that is priced from $59,100 plus on-road costs. It comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and LED cornering foglamps, headlight washers, roof rails, privacy glass and a power-operated tailgate.
Our test car also has the $3500 Sports Luxury Enhancement Pack that adds a moonroof, head-up display and smart key card.
According to the Lexus website, the drive-away price in Melbourne for our test car is $70,657.
The UX250h test car came with a white leather interior, perforated on the front seats that also have integrated headrests and blue accents. Both front seats are electrically adjustable, as is the steering wheel for reach and tilt.
Dual-zone climate control is standard, as is a 10.3-inch display screen housing satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone integration, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There are two USB ports under the armrest and a wireless charging mat up front.
This UX250h test car also had a moonroof, head-up display and smart key card as mentioned above.
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As for convenience factors, both front doors have good-sized pockets that can take water bottles. The back doors do not, but there are cupholders in the centre armrest.
Getting into the back seat is not as easy as it could be thanks to a narrow door opening. Headroom is okay if you’re under six foot like me, and there’s a decent amount of legroom (for me) back there too.
The back seats also get air vents and USB-C charging points, and there are ISOFIX points in the two outboard seats.
As for the boot, the UX250h hybrid stores its battery pack under the boot floor, which means it’s a higher floor than some rivals, and it also lops seven litres off total boot capacity, 364L compared to the UX200’s 371L. The all-wheel-drive version is smaller again at 334L.
None of those numbers are particularly impressive, even for a small SUV. That said, the UX250h does offer a double-floor system in the boot that allows you to store slim objects like laptop bags out of sight. There is also a carry hook and 12V power charger in the boot.
The back seat folds forward in a 60/40 split to accommodate larger loads at the expense of passenger capacity. The tailgate on the Sports Luxury variant is electric opening and closing.
In addition to all that, there are a number of thoughtful touches that might not seem obvious on first look. These include the illuminated air vent knobs to help you adjust airflow at night, or the cargo cover that can be folded like a net and stowed when not in use, or windscreen wipers that stop when a door opens to prevent passengers getting splashed.
|2021 Lexus UX250h Sports Luxury FWD|
|Boot volume||364L seats up|
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Lexus UX250h Sports Luxury comes standard with a Mark Levinson 13-speaker sound system that is state-of-the-art and a CD player in the dash that is not.
A 10.3-inch central display houses the infotainment and connectivity functions, including DAB+ digital radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It can be used by talking to it, by touching the screen, or by clumsily fumbling with Lexus’s unloved touchpad – which will be kicked to the kerb for all next-gen Lexus models.
The Lexus UX was crash-tested by ANCAP shortly after its arrival in Australia in 2018. It was awarded five stars, scoring particularly well in Adult Occupant Protection (96 per cent) and Child Occupant Protection (88 per cent). It scored 83 per cent for Safety Assist systems and 82 per cent for Vulnerable Road User Protection.
The Lexus UX range comes with the Safety Sense+ pack that includes auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control, a reversing camera and parking sensors all round.
The UX250h has a head-up display that puts speed and sat-nav information in the driver’s natural line of sight.
If you buy a Lexus after January 1, 2022, it will come with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. If you bought before that date – but still in 2021 – Lexus will convert your current four-year, 100,000km warranty to the new five-year term from January 1.
After that same date, battery packs fitted to electric and hybrid models like the UX250h will be covered by a 10-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, up from eight years and 160,000km.
The UX needs to be serviced every 12 months or 15,000km, and each of the first three visits will cost a capped $495.
As for fuel use, Lexus claims 4.5L/100km of regular unleaded on the city/hwy combined cycle. During our week-long test we averaged 5.8L/100km.
|At a glance||2021 Lexus UX250h Sports Luxury FWD|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months / 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1485 (3 years)|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||4.5L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||5.8L/100km|
|Fuel type||91-octane petrol|
|Fuel tank size||43L|
The UX250h starts silently, leaning on electric power to move away and can stay that way up to 50km/h, although it doesn’t take much throttle pressure to waken the petrol engine.
The UX feels like a compact car to drive; it’s nimble and easy to manoeuvre. The steering ratio is a quickish 2.8 turns lock-to-lock delivering a 10.4m turning circle kerb-to-kerb (11.2m if you prefer wall-to-wall).
The UX250h Sports Luxury is heavier than the UX200 thanks to the battery pack and other electric elements, weighing in at 1600kg (UX200 Sports Luxury is 1510kg).
So, a 1600kg SUV/hatch with 131kW of power is not a pocket rocket by any measure. But it does have a bit of punch to accelerate enthusiastically if you need it, although throttle response can be tardy in Eco and Normal driving modes. Lexus claims 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds, which feels on the money.
Of the UX250h’s three driving modes, Sport sharpens throttle response and continuously variable transmission gearing appreciably. It also colours the instrument binnacle red to reflect your chosen mode.
The ride is well controlled, a touch firm, but that’s more about reducing body roll because it soaks up small, sharp bumps with a well-tuned finesse. Noise levels inside the cabin are fine at urban speeds, but tyre and engine noise can become intrusive at higher speeds.
|Key details||2021 Lexus UX250h Sports Luxury FWD|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid|
|Power||107kW @ 6000rpm petrol engine
80kW electric motor
|Torque||188Nm @ 4400-5200rpm petrol engine
202Nm electric motor
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Continuously variable transmission (CVT)|
|Power to weight ratio||80.6kW/t|
|Tow rating||750kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
For some, the Lexus UX won’t have the space they expect, or need, from a small SUV. But if you want an eco-friendly hybrid that’s compact and easy to live with around town, one that has plenty of active safety and tech gizmos, then the UX250h could be the answer.