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New Lexus UX 300h 2024 review: impressive hybrid SUV is now even better

Light updates for the Lexus UX crossover bring welcome benefits to create an efficient, refined and well-built package

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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from £37,495
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Verdict

The Lexus UX excels on many aspects customers will appreciate. The new powertrain is extremely economical and mostly refined, while retaining good levels of performance. Build quality is also brilliant, and there’s the ever-useful prospect of bulletproof reliability and strong residuals. It even drives well, but there is a pay-off on account of its firm ride and slightly cramped interior.

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Lexus has given its UX crossover a light upgrade for the 2024 model year, introducing new tech, a more powerful hybrid powertrain and some higher price points along the way. This isn’t only to improve the overall package, but also to make space for the new pint-sized Lexus LBX, which has put the squeeze on its older UX sibling within the premium Japanese brand’s crossover range. 

The new UX 300h will effectively replace the previous UX 250h and join the fully-electric UX 300e in the range, utilising Toyota’s latest hybrid technology to improve both performance and economy. As a traditional parallel hybrid, or ‘self-charging’ in Toyota speak, this doesn’t have the need to plug in but is available in either front-wheel drive, or optional all-wheel drive with a small electric drive unit mounted on the rear axle. 

The model we have here is the standard front-driver, and the headline figures look good, with the new 197bhp hybrid powertrain not only offering a 15bhp bump in power, but also besting the 250h’s claimed miles per gallon rating by nearly 5mpg at up to a claimed 56.4mpg – and it’s 0.4 seconds faster to 62mph, too. Who says incremental progress is a bad thing…?

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The self-charging hybrid powertrain also gives the UX300h a unique selling point amongst other compact premium crossovers like the Mercedes GLA or Audi Q2, however the recent growth of the BMW X1 and MINI's new Countryman puts these former rivals on a slightly higher plane, feeling more like a small SUV than a tall hatchback

Regardless of which rival you’re comparing the UX to, though, you’ll notice that despite the crossover styling it’s definitely more hatchback-like in terms of space inside, with a relatively tight rear seat and a 438-litre boot which is smaller than most key rivals. 

Exterior styling revisions for this updated model are largely absent, with only a few new colour options inside and out as well as painted arch surrounds on higher-grade models. Instead, Lexus has used the 2024 update to focus on upgrades to the technology package and expanding its active safety elements. 

This includes an update to the new user interface found inside the latest Toyota C-HR, in either 8-inch or 12.3-inch touchscreen options, plus a new digital driver’s display in the same combination of sizes. The UK’s highest seller is expected to be the low-to-mid spec F Sport Design we’re driving here, which is fitted with the smaller of both screen options yet neither feel like too much of a compromise. 

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General specification is still quite strong, with a synthetic leather finish to the seats and steering wheel that retains Lexus’s typically plush feel, alongside a sense of supreme build quality and good levels of refinement. This is a typical trait of the brand, which has ensured that all the bits you touch – like the steering wheel, door pulls or gear selector – feel a step above the more mainstream Toyotas it shares so much with under the skin.

On the road, the latest fifth generation parallel hybrid system feels exceptionally well calibrated, with the electric motor doing most of the grunt work at town speeds which has the added benefit of keeping the powertrain smooth and silent. Ask for more performance and response from the overall powertrain is good, with the petrol motor coming on stream seamlessly. 

Keep your inputs smooth and the whole experience is serene and calm, so long as you don’t ask for full power at which point refinement levels take a dive as the petrol engine spins harder. The important factors for easy driving, though, such as clear throttle response and consistent brakes that have predictable and effective regen all work together brilliantly. 

On our course of mixed town and dual-carriageway driving, we managed to top the claimed MPG figures quite substantially, cracking nearly 60mpg in the standard ‘Comfort’ driving mode. Faster motorway driving isn’t this powertrain’s most efficient arena, but even so 50mpg+ will easily be on the cards.

The UX300h F Sport does ride firmly on its stiffened suspension, but the pay-off is some impressive handling traits. Its body feels controlled, tight and fluid, made better by accurate steering which is relatively heavy for the class. Yet the ride is also never crashy or brittle – this isn’t a car you’ll need to avoiding potholes in. If the F Sport suspension is a little firm, the non-F models do offer a slightly softer suspension setup, especially with the top-spec Takumi’s variable dampers, but these are a little more ponderous to drive. 

And this notion of sticking with the basics is relevant to the car overall, too. The added toys and widescreen displays of the upper models are nice options to have, but they also bring the price point up and over a price that its Corolla-based chassis can really support. At the lower end, however, the UX300h brings all of Lexus’s best bits into a package that’s reliable, beautifully built and efficient. 

Model:Lexus UX300h F Sport Design
Price from:£37,495
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl petrol, hybrid
Power/torque:196bhp/190Nm
Transmission:CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:8.1 seconds
Economy/CO2:54.3mpg/117g/km
L/W/H:4,495/1,840/1,540
On sale:Now
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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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