Lexus calls the UX 250h a crossover SUV with best-in-class turning radius and fuel efficiency. We call it a luxury hatchback with crossover pretenses. Yes, you can get an AWD version of the UX, but the ability to distribute traction does not a crossover SUV make. Nonetheless, the version of the 2023 Lexus UX 250h we evaluated — F Sport Handling AWD — is a stylish luxury crossover SUV that boasts a range of features that can be found in many SUVs in its price class but, when appraised as a hatchback, there are few in its price class in the American market.
Nonetheless, with a blend of style, luxury and performance in a package that’s unusual in the crossover class, the Lexus UX 250h may have more appeal for those who wish to experience fuel efficiency and luxury without the trappings of climbing into a 5,000-pound vehicle. Be sure to check out the video below as it will give you an in-depth look at the features and performance of this quasi-SUV.
The Lexus UX 250h features plenty of creases and tucks that complement the triangular theme that Lexus leaned into several years ago. These days, the spindle grille has found its mojo after unceremoniously slathered onto every Lexus’ nose, no different than when Audi decided it needed to exponentially increase the size of its grille 20 years ago. As such, the UX 250h sometimes comes off as a mini-Lexus RX with enough utility for a quick jaunt to Whole Foods thanks to 17.1 cu-ft behind the second row, but keep your Home Depot shopping list limited to tools and glue.
To its target market, the US 250h comes off as somewhat sporty, though we aren’t the target market and our opinion may contrast. Nonetheless, the UX 250h may appear sportier when you go up the trim levels from the base, which includes color-keyed “overfenders” wheel well bulges, more aggressive front fascia and black contrast roof, the latter two being features of both F Sport models, Design and Handling. Both F Sports also feature 18-inch F Sport alloy wheels that subtly distinguish themselves from the 18-inchers on the base and UX 250h Premium models.
Color choices are of no help to the indecisive as there are nine colors in which to select. If you go with the UX 250h F Sport Handling, color choices are restricted to six, with Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 being the one on our test car.
The interior of the 2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport Handling is a mix of (surprise!) luxury and sport. The F Sport Handling model adds very attractive sport seats with unique upholstery plus race-inspired instrumentation, aluminum pedals and front door scuff plates, perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, and more. The cabin has enough legroom and headroom for front and rear passengers, though we wouldn’t recommend three in the rear unless they’re very familiar with each other.
All UX 250h models save the F Sport Handling feature a standard eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but the F Sport Handling features a 12.3-inch upgrade; it is available as an option for the UX 250h Premium. Likewise, all models save the F Sport Handling feature a seven-inch color multi-informational display (aka “instrument panel”) while essential information for the F Sport Handling is displayed in one that is an inch larger.
All versions of the Lexus UX 250h are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor to produce a combined 181 horsepower — for such sporting pretensions, it seems more like bench-warmer. Like most hybrid powertrains, it is mated to a continuously variable transmission that provides smooth acceleration, though no one would accuse it of being brisk. In fact, Lexus’ own tests suggest the FWD version is faster than the AWD version, which is counter to most cars. The EPA has rated the UX 250h at an estimated 41 city, 38 mpg highway and 39 combined, which is quite generous for a car masquerading as an SUV.
A shiny side to the UX 250h F Sport Handling is its sport-tuned suspension that provides a firm yet comfortable ride, with the Handling model offering more drive modes to lend credence to its appropriated name. Steering feels precise and responsive, making it easy to maneuver in tight spaces compared to your average crossover. Our UX 250h F Sport Handling also featured the option of all-wheel drive, something that is optional for all UX models.
The Lexus UX 250h F Sport Handing comes with a range of features that include the following:
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
- 10-speaker premium audio system
- Available WiFi and other connected technologies
- Heated outer mirrors
- Automatic dual-zone climate control with rear vents
- Adjustable rear cargo deckboard
- Power moonroof
- Auto-dimming rear mirror with HomeLink
- Lexus Memory System for driver’s seat and outside mirrors
- Active Sound Control
- Paddle shifters
A range of safety features also include:
- 10 airbags
- Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
- Dynamic radar cruise control
- Lane tracing assist
- Lane departure alert with steering assist
- Road sign assist
- Blind spot monitoring
- Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect
Overall, the 2023 Lexus UX 250h F Sport is a fine luxury subcompact, but a lackluster crossover SUV. Some may be attracted to its unique blend of performance, style and efficiency, but don’t expect utility anything beyond your typical hatchback. The UX 250h F Sport Handling model adds a sporty touch to the interior and, sometimes, its driving chops, while the hybrid powertrain provides a smooth but unexciting driving experience. With its advanced safety features and excellent fuel economy, the UX 250h F Sport is a solid choice for folks looking for a luxury subcompact but, if you need practicality and driving fun, there are more traditional crossover choices to be had that can offer that sweet spot.