Lexus UX review
The Lexus UX hybrid is good to drive, economical and should be easy to live with, too
Based on our experience, the Lexus UX is an interesting alternative to the best compact SUVs you can buy. The styling is daring and different, the interior is finished to the usual Lexus high standards, and it’s loaded with an impressive array of safety equipment.
But, the UX doesn't really stack up as an overall package; rear cabin space isn't great and the infotainment set-up is in need of an overhaul, which might be a concern for family buyers. The hybrid models won't win over many business users, either, as CO2 emissions aren't as competitive as plug-in rivals, while the fully electric UX 300e is expensive and doesn't come close to the range offered by BMW, Mercedes or Volvo's smallest electric SUVs.
About the Lexus UX
Lexus practically invented the premium crossover when it launched the RX in 1998, but the luxury brand was a little late to the compact SUV party and slow to get an EV to market. Even so, Lexus launched its NX back in 2014, the UX three years later and three years after that production of its first-ever electric car – the UX 300e – finally started.
The UX goes head-to-head with the likes of the Mercedes GLA, BMW X1, Audi Q3, Alfa Romeo Tonale and Volvo XC40, but with a coupe-like profile and sporty driving characteristics, its closest rival is arguably the BMW X2. It's a similar story for the UX 300e which faces competition from the BMW iX1 and Mercedes EQA, plus Volvo's XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge, with plenty more waiting in the wings.
The UX is based on an adaptation of Toyota’s TNGA platform (called GA-C in Lexus speak), which means it shares its underpinnings with the Toyota Prius and Toyota C-HR. Thanks to the high-voltage electronics assisting the petrol engine, all UX models promise good fuel consumption, although tailpipe emissions aren't able to compete with figures from plug-in hybrid rivals.
On a positive note, the UX will reward keen drivers with tight body control, plenty of grip, sharp steering and a composed ride. Even the standard-fit CVT transmission feels smooth and linear.
There are three drivetrains available in the UK. The first, which has been around the longest, is Lexus and Toyota’s venerable 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid system that sends power to the front wheels. These models are badged as “250h”. The second is also a petrol-electric hybrid but is four-wheel-drive and gets “E-Four” added to the end of its name. Last but not least is the fully-electric “300e” which arrived towards the end of 2020 and will be getting a much larger battery later in 2023, boosting the compact electric SUV’s range from 196 to 250 miles.
In typical Lexus fashion, the level of standard specification is high, including a comprehensive array of active and passive safety devices. There are three grades (aka trim levels) to choose from: UX, F Sport and Takumi, plus a number of optional extra packs. Prices start from just under £35,000, but rise to more than £57,000 for the flagship battery-powered model.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Lexus UX hybrid is good to drive, economical and should be easy to live with, too
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe UX offers quite un-Lexus-like levels of driver engagement, with tight body control and a punchy powertrain
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsOfficial figures suggest that the UX will be a cheap car to run, irrespective of fuel type
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Lexus UX boasts a highly individual and quality-rich interior, although the infotainment set-up isn't the best
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe UX's boot is too small and the space inside the cabin is merely adequate
- 6Reliability and SafetySafety and reliability come as standard with Lexus – you can buy a UX with confidence