There are cars designed to make you think they’re SUVs—the Subaru Outback and the Volvo V60 Cross Country come to mind—but the 2023 Lexus UX is an SUV that does it’s best to look and feel like a car. It shares its platform with the Toyota Prius, which is every inch a passenger car, and like the Prius the UX is a hybrid—essentially last year’s UX250h hybrid model with a few updates. All UX’s come with a 181-hp powertrain that marries three electric motors, a four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and standard all-wheel drive. The result, predictably, is poky acceleration coupled with fuel economy ratings that are higher than many other small SUVs’. The interior is cozy and appropriately appointed, and the UX also offers a generous amount of standard tech and safety equipment. But when it comes to doing SUV things like hauling cargo, rivals such as the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLB-classoffer more practicality.
What’s New for 2023?
Lexus has dropped the nonhybrid UX200 models from the lineup for 2023making the all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain standard. Lexus says it has made changes to the UX’s chassis and suspension to improve both handling and ride quality. We’ll be able to confirm that only after we’ve driven this latest model. A new F Sport Handling package is available on the F Sport model that includes and adaptive dampers. Lexus has also installed its more modern Lexus Interface touchscreen infotainment system into the UX this year. The updated software looks more up-to-date and offers an integrated voice assistant, over-the-air update capabilities, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An 8.0-inch display is standard but the system looks best on the larger, optional 12.3-inch screen. The infotainment display has been relocated so it’s within reach for the driver and front passenger and the company’s annoying touchpad controller has been eliminated and.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d go with the F Sport version that brings a sportier suspension, more supportive front seats, and a slick-looking gauge cluster—among other enhancements. Of the two available packages, we’d pick the Premium option that includes heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, better interior materials, and a sunroof. Finally, we’d recommend adding a head-up display, heated steering wheel, power liftgate, and wireless charging.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Lexus UX is powered by a 181-hp four-cylinder hybrid powertrain paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and standard all-wheel drive. The UX250h we tested in 2019 proved to be half-asleep, needing 8.6 seconds to reach 60 mph. Thankfully, it had good steering feel and a quiet refinement that proved endearing enough to help make up for its lack of quickness. An F Sport package brings a sportier tune to the suspension, 18-inch wheels on run-flat tires, and exclusive interior and exterior appointments.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
As is common with hybrid vehicles, the UX is better at saving fuel around town than on the Interstate, with EPA estimated ratings 41 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. That was proven when we tested a 2019 UX250h on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test route—part of our extensive testing regimen and it returned only 31 mpg, 7 mpg lower than its EPA estimate. For more information about the UX’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, Lexus ensures that passengers know this is a luxury vehicle thanks to an attractive layout and posh materials. It also boasts a bunch of standard features that includes dual-zone climate control and power-adjustable front seats. The experience can be elevated with options such as heated and ventilated front seats, a head-up display, and snazzier materials. While the back seat is far from spacious, it’s also not as cramped as one might expect. Unfortunately, the cargo area behind those seats is skimpy. We managed to fit only four carry-on suitcases back there; by comparison, we could cram an extra three carry-ons in the rear of the BMW X1.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every UX has a touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, and four USB ports. The little Lexus also can be enhanced with numerous options that include a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen, built-in navigation, wireless charging, and an eight-speaker premium audio system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Every model is also equipped with standard driver-assistance technology via Lexus’s Safety System+ 2.5 suite of features. That includes automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and an adaptive cruise control system with lane-centering. For more information about the UX’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Lexus provides a competitive limited warranty and an even better powertrain warranty. The automaker also includes a short period of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers six years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for one year or 10,000 miles
2019 Lexus UX250h
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED: $38,240 (base price: $35,025)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter inline-4, 143 hp, 133 lb-ft; 1 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor; 1 induction AC motor; combined output, 181 hp
TRANSMISSION: continuously variable automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/11.1-in disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL450 RFT, 225/50RF-18 95V M+S
Wheelbase: 103.9 in
Length: 177.0 in
Width: 72.4 in
Height: 59.8 in
Passenger volume: 85 cu ft
Cargo volume: 17 cu ft
Curb weight: 3600 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 8.6 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 23.8 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 32.5 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.4 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.9 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.6 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.6 sec @ 86 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 112 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 173 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.86 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 31 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 39/41/38 mpg