2024 Lexus UX250h Review: A Compelling Subcompact SUV, Provided You’re a Loner
The UX250h is the smallest and most affordable option in the Lexus stable. Its overall characteristics make it an attractive choice for an upscale city commuter — but its appeal is limited to those who place pragmaticism low on their priority list. My weeklong test of the 2024 UX250h F Sport Handling underscores its value, posh accommodations and efficiency, but also its limited practicality for those who need to regularly move people and cargo.
Front passenger space is commodious, but adults in the rear will feel the pinch of limited head and leg room. Even in the subcompact ranks, it’s tight. The slightly reclined seatbacks in the rear are appreciated but don’t make up for the general lack of passenger space. Front passengers will also be cramped if a bulky rear- or forward-facing car seat is installed.
Limited cargo space doesn’t help the UX’s pragmaticism. Though Lexus claims 17.1 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats, it feels smaller in real-world applications. Even a modest grocery haul will quickly fill the cargo area. Lift-over height is surprisingly high, and the sloping roofline makes hauling any larger items a challenge at best, even with the flat-folding rear seats.
Though there are some clever designs to ease small-item storage, including an easy-to-reach wireless charging pad and a center console that opens either toward or away from the driver. Still, storage space is at a premium.
But for those living the single life or who ascribe to antinatalism, it has plenty to like.
The UX250h sets itself apart from the competition by being the only luxury hybrid subcompact SUV. All models are equipped with a 181-horsepower four-cylinder hybrid paired with a CVT. It’s impressively efficient around town. In 115 miles of mostly city driving, the little Lexus drank less than three gallons, putting it on par with its EPA estimate of 39 combined mpg with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive ups the ante to 42 combined mpg.
The UX’s efficiency comes with a sacrifice of speed. It meets hard throttle inputs with a leisurely attitude, though it does feel sprightly enough around town. The CVT is also one of the better examples and is unobtrusive in changing its proverbial cogs. It’s not for enthusiasts, but the UX’s driving characteristics are well-suited for city life.
Those seeking some more agility can spring for the F Sport Handling trim featuring a sport-tuned suspension. It did well to keep the UX balanced when thrown into corners and delivered a supple ride while cruising. The top trim also features comfortable and supportive sport seats.
It’s not easy to find value in the subcompact luxury ranks, but the UX delivers a generous list of standard features. Highlights include synthetic leather upholstery, power front seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, and a full suite of active driver aids. Premium trim adds some desirable features like heated and ventilated front seats. The F Sport Design is mostly an aesthetic upgrade with a few added amenities like a sunroof and rain-sensing wipers.
A 12.3-inch touchscreen is optional, and with it comes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The system requires a learning curve, though thankfully the brand’s old touchpad system is no more.
The UX’s styling furthers its urban-centric nature. Its hard lines, particularly around the fenders and liftgate, may not appeal to all, but it’s certainly one of the more eye-catching entries in its class.
Overall, the 2024 Lexus UX250h seems geared toward a specific crowd. Namely, urbanites who want a relatively well-appointed, comfortable, stylish, affordable and especially efficient luxury SUV that performs more like a car. But those that need pragmaticism in a small package should look elsewhere.
To note, Lexus recently revealed the 2025 UX will feature an update hybrid powertrain. With a new transaxle and lightweight battery, the new model delivers 196-hp. Lexus claims the added grunt will improve 0-60 mph times from 8.4 to 7.9 seconds. It will also feature a shift-by-wire system, and the 12.3-inch touchscreen is standard on upper trims.
Its interior and exterior dimensions remain unchanged.