Lexus UX SUV review
"The economical Lexus UX looks and feels great, but falls short on versatility"
- Sleek looks
- Good to drive
- Impressive economy
- Fiddly infotainment
- Tight boot space
- Rivals are cheaper
The premium compact SUV class is growing rapidly at the moment. Buyers can't get enough of fashionable crossovers such as the BMW X2 and Audi Q2. 'Hybrid' has become something of a buzzword, too, so a hybrid premium compact SUV really ought to be a sales sensation.
This is what Lexus, the upmarket arm of Toyota, hopes for the recently updated UX 250h. It's not only the smallest SUV the company offers - slotting beneath the Lexus NX in the brand's line-up - but now its smallest model full stop following the Lexus CT hatchback’s retirement. It also competes against the Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40, while potentially persuading would-be Toyota C-HR buyers to push a little further upmarket.
It comes as no surprise that Lexus should opt for hybrid power in its smallest SUV – the larger Lexus RX was something of a pioneer, offering hybrid power since 2004. The technology has since made big leaps forward in fuel-efficiency, though, and Lexus claims some fairly startling economy figures for the smaller, lighter UX. Modest CO2 emissions figures should make the UX an attractive proposition for company-car users, too.
Externally, the Lexus UX wears the brand's trademark 'spindle' grille, but isn't quite as bold and outspoken as the larger Lexus NX. The overall shape has the sleek silhouette of the latest coupe-SUVs, and despite its tough-looking black wheel arch mouldings, the stance is more soft-roader than go-anywhere vehicle.
That streamlined shape is reflected inside, where interior headroom is more saloon than SUV and the driving position is only a little higher than a typical family hatchback. Boot space is rather meagre, too, so this might be a crossover more suitable for couples than larger parties.
Although some may miss the lofty perch that other SUVs can provide, many will enjoy the UX's sporty driving position; there's no doubt it contributes to the driving experience, which feels a little more involving than some rivals. It just goes to show how capable Toyota's TNGA platform – also found under the Toyota Prius hybrid and latest Toyota Corolla – really is. Four-wheel drive is also offered in the UX 250h hybrid, badged E-Four, but we wouldn't recommend this version unless you really need extra traction in winter, because it makes the car less efficient.
Touted as a cutting-edge product at launch, the UX ticks all the usual safety boxes with autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and automatic headlights. There's a radar cruise-control system, too, with a mode for use in stop-start traffic at up to 18mph.
Lexus proudly occupied the number-one slot in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but slipped to 10th spot in 2021. While Lexus has a good reputation for customer service, the brand's three-year/60,000-mile warranty is less generous than Toyota's, but like that firm the guarantee can be extended to 10 years.
If you'd rather a longer warranty, the Toyota C-HR hybrid remains a less expensive – and slightly more spacious – alternative to the Lexus UX, but many will find the latter's extra style and interior appeal worth the extra outlay. High-mileage private buyers may find conventional diesel-powered rivals, such as the BMW X1 sDrive18d, will be cheaper to run, too.