- 2021 Lexus UX 250h ($35,200- $39,900)
- “2021 IntelliChoice Best Overall Value” Award
- Pro: The Lexus UX 250h provides a fuel-efficient and luxurious way to get around town.
- Con: The powertrain could use more power and the UX’s ride can feel a little choppy at times.
The Lexus UX 250h is the brand’s entry-level model that’s aimed at eco-conscious buyers looking to step into the luxury segment. Based on the Toyota CH-R, the Lexus UX is more of a hatchback than it is an SUV, which is what the automaker likes to call it. After spending some time with the UX, I can see why.
Despite its diminutive size, the UX 250h provides drivers with a utilitarian experience with its all-wheel-drive architecture and ever-so-slightly high riding stance. However, it’s more of a city-dweller than an off-road hauler, which is likely why UX stands for “urban explorer.” Regardless, the UX 250h still offers a large level of comfort and unstated opulence that’s found in its larger stablemates.
There are four different UX 250h trim levels to pick from
When deciding on which UX 250h to buy, it’s important to know that there are four different trim levels: UX 250h AWD, UX 250h F Sport, UX 250h Luxury, and UX 250h Black Line Edition. The base trim level comes well-equipped, while the F Sport trim mainly adds some sporty trim features and bolstered seats.
My tester was the Luxury trim, which added some conveniences like memory seats, a power tailgate with a kick sensor, and wirelessly powered LED illuminated air vents knobs. (Yes, they are fancy knobs for the air vents).
The 2021 Lexus UX 250h looks uniquely sharp
The 2021 Lexus UX 250h has that polarizing front grille that you can find on every other model from the automaker. Love it or hate it, I personally think that it works well on the small car as it gives it an imposing look that’s further accented by its aggressive LED headlights.
Moving to the side of the car, the body lines, high beltline, and wide rear haunches make the UX look athletic, which is taken a step further by its matte-black fenders. As for the rear, the wraparound LED light bar is the main highlight, which I think gives the car a futuristic look that will withstand the test of time.
Speaking of the fenders, if you don’t like the unpainted look then you can opt for the UX 250h Black Line Special Edition model. The UX Black Line also includes black 18-inch wheels and a “Grecian Water” exterior, which can also be called “light blue.”
The UX 250h’s interior is soft and cozy
Getting in and out of the 2021 UX 250h is easy as it sits a little higher than a normal compact car. And once you’re in, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how buttoned-up the interior looks. A NuLuxe leather interior is standard and it’s offered in four different colors. There’s plenty of room up front for the driver and passenger. However, the rear seat passengers should be limited to two adults or three children, as the center seat will be too cramped for anyone that’s not child-size.
There are soft-touch materials everywhere including the dashboard and door panels and I especially like the washi trim, which is inspired by the grain Japanese paper. A 10.3-inch infotainment screen sits in the middle of the dash and all of the HVAC controls are within easy reach and clearly laid out. My main gripe is the Remote Touch Interface that controls the infotainment system. It has haptic feedback that lets you feel when the cursor on the screen toggles between different icons. However, its functionality is frustrating and almost impossible to use while driving.
The Lexus UX 250h is packed with luxurious and convenient features
Every Lexus UX 250h comes standard with LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone auto climate control, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, and different drive modes (ECO, comfort, and Sport). An eight-inch infotainment display is standard, but it can be upgraded to 10.3 inches. There’s also a six-speaker audio system, but I recommend upgrading to the optional Lexus Premium Sound system that makes every song sound sublime.
Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and Amazon Alexa are all standard as is the Lexus WiFi, but you’ll need a subscription to keep it active. The car can also be remotely started via the Lexus Enform App, which also keeps track of maintenance and service appointments and records. Additionally, the F Sport variant has a stiffer suspension and paddle shifters while the Luxury trim adds ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and rear parking sensors with automatic reverse braking.
The Lexus UX 250h is agile
Again, don’t let Lexus’ “SUV” designation of the UX 250h fool you. This car isn’t meant for going off-road. However, I did manage to drive it on some dirt-filled back roads and it handled the loose gravel splendidly. On regular roads, the UX 250h feels spritely and its steering feels loose and comfortable in the “ECO” and “Normal” modes. Flipping it into “Sport” mode tightens up the steering and makes the throttle feel more responsive.
Around town, the UX 250 is easy to drive and comfortable at that. The ride quality feels soft, but it can be a little choppy over some road imperfections. Get the car up to highways speeds, and things soften up a bit. I drove the UX over 700 miles on a long road trip and had no issues to complain about when arriving at my destination. Additionally, I measured an average of 73 decibels on my decibel meter at highway speeds, which is on par with others in the Lexus lineup.
The 2.0-liter hybrid system is smooth and efficient
The Lexus UX 250h comes standard with a hybrid powertrain that consists of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine attached to two electric motors, a CVT, and a nickel-metal hydride battery. One of the motors sits between the rear axles to make the system all-wheel drive and the total power output is rated at 181 hp. The main draw is the UX’s fuel economy numbers, which are rated at an EPA-estimated 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
In my own testing, which was mostly highway driving, I achieved a real-world average of 37 mpg. That’s not bad, however, I still only managed to squeeze around 300 miles out of each full tank of fuel as the car’s Achilles heel is its small 10.6-gallon gas tank. In terms of performance, the UX 250h leaves the line quickly – thanks to its electric propulsion – but it won’t win any drag races. Car and Driver was able to get the UX from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, which isn’t slow, but it’s not terribly fast either.
The UX 250h might be small, but it’s also very safe
When it comes to safety, Lexus didn’t skimp on the compact UX 250h. The hybrid SUV comes standard with 10 airbags, blind-spot monitors, and a rear cross-traffic alert. Lexus also gave the UX an array of standard driver-assist features in the form of its Lexus Safety System 2.0 + package.
That package includes features like a pre-collision warning system with pedestrian detection, lane-tracing assist, lane-departure alert, road-sign assist, dynamic cruise control, and intelligent high beams. To add to the UX’s safety quotient, the hybrid car received a “Top Safety Pick Award” from the IIHS and a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA.
The UX250h is easy to maintain
Lexus vehicles are known for being reliable, so you can expect that the UX 250h won’t disappoint. According to Motortrend, the maintenance costs for the first five years should typically add up to $3,260, which is good for a car in the luxury segment. Consumer Reports gave the UX a five-star rating in its “predicted reliability” category and JD Power gave it a 75 out of 100 for “quality and reliability.”
You won’t have to worry too much about repairing the Lexus UX 250h over the first few years of ownership, though, as it’s covered by the brand’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty. As for the powertrain, that carries its own 6-year/70,000-mile warranty and there’s even an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for the hybrid components. Additionally, the hybrid battery itself carries its own 10-year/150,000-mile warranty.
The 2021 Lexus UX 250h is a small gem in the luxury compact market
Ultimately, if you’re looking to take a step up from the mainstream commuter cars and into something more upscale, but compact, then the Lexus UX 250h could work for you. It’s not as plush and soft as its ES and IS bigger siblings, but it will get you to where ever you’re going comfortably. If you’re looking for something that’s nicer than a Toyota Corolla Hatchback, but just as quirky, then the UX250h won’t disappoint.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Lexus UX 250h an expert rating of 7.7 out of 10
The MotorBiscuit editors rate the 2021 Lexus UX 250h a 7.7 out of 10. The UX 250h offers a lot of premium features while maintaining stellar fuel efficiency ratings. It’s an excellent value, given its price point and it even has all-wheel drive as standard equipment. The UX 250h might be unique, but it’s a great choice for entry-level luxury buyers.