2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport Review by Rob Eckaus - It's E15 Approved
The Efficient CUV
By Rob Eckaus
Northern California Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Lexus cleverly added the UX 250h to its line-up to attract buyers with an upscale experience, refinement and excellent fuel economy in the CUV form factor. This stunning Ultrasonic Blue Mica example is the F Sport model. It’s for those who get really utilitarian or sporty! The infamous Lexus grill is offset by the brilliant blue, even at night under parking lot lights. One night it got a compliment on the color. That doesn’t happen with black or white cars.
When child seats for the nephews became a thing, the reality of wanting an SUV hit. Loading and unloading the kids, or installing and reinstalling their seats, the height of both the seats and installing or removing them was the big convenience. Then numerous runs to the donation center for a move was another reason and suddenly, the SUV was a must-have for the household. Convenient as heck, still nice to drive.
But the little CUVs are a dilemma. A six-foot passenger may fit in the back of the UX in a pinch, but a rear facing child seat makes the passenger front seat compromised or even uninhabitable. If the ride height is raised for that easy child seat installation and access, then the little CUV looks funny. In this you’re still sitting a little low and not easily exiting the vehicle either. On the other hand it feels more handling oriented, more tossable and less tippy.
The cargo load height may be conveniently high and there appears to be room underneath for storage but it’s the ubiquitous Styrofoam bin with cutouts for some tools. It’s also a great place for the front license plate if you’re front plate rebel. The cargo space is great for groceries and the gym bag, what else is there if you’re childless? Pets? But two sets of golf clubs may work but a bicycle could be tight after folding down the rear seats and taking off the front wheel.
A decent looking hybrid with the wheel well body cladding for the off-road look versus, say, another in the corporate family (cough cough), quite fuel efficient, rated at 40mpg city, 38mpg highway, Lexus service and ownership experience, it’s a clever offering for the market segment. Says, “I’m sporty, darn it!” even though you’re fuel frugal.
Typical 4- cylinder whine or more like open up and say “aaaaaahhh” is present with any non-hyper mile driving. If you think a start stop function is extra wear, try driving this while maneuvering around slow traffic on the freeway or hills. Its constantly is revving or shutting down. But around town it a great commuter, the engine shut-off and start-up is subtle, sometimes needing a glance at the dashboard to see the EV mode light is on. It does have paddle-shifters that do provide some engine braking, and regenerative charging, and they imply 6 virtual forward gears when upshifting.
The total output of 181hp is sufficient for commuting and the highway. It’s a comfortable ride with minor road and wind noise. With a heavy foot showing over 33mpg, the efficiency is apparent, even with a 10.6 gallon tank. It drives like a front wheel driver, initially spinning the front tires with a large throttle input in the wet before the rear catches up.
The biggest gripe is the thick A & B pillars, with the right front corner of the dash being raised, making tight right-hand turns getting a bit used to in case of pedestrians. The B-pillar obstruction offset by the lane occupancy warning easily noticed in the side view mirrors.
The driver’s menu is intuitive but requires many steering wheel button presses to fully navigate. Left or right for each menu category, then down for the selections. The driver aids are configurable for on, off or sensitivity in a sub-menu. The lane keeping assist works with a subtle tug and a vibration if urgent. It begs the question, is it more active because a driver knows it’s there and becomes less diligent with lane position? Regardless it’s easily engaged, from the steering wheel, a small icon on the dash is an easily understood indicator.
Despite ignoring the four hundred plus pages of the owner’s manual and the supplementary infotainment manual, we were able to fumble our way through the functions with the haptic feedback touchpad and the buttons and dials on the handrest. It does have a logical flow. While messing around with the driver menus, I found a g-force indicator for lateral and longitudinal loads. That can be fun for data hounds, regardless of the vehicle’s limits, or lack of.
The suite of technology features is long and impressive:
The safety systems called the Lexus Safety System + 2.0, brlefly touched on here, is best summarized here: https://www.lexus.com/documents/safety/Lexus-Safety-System-Plus-2_0-20181024.pdf
The Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect is complimentary for the first 10 (TEN!) years of ownership. That includes Automatic Collision Notification, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Locator.
Lexus Wi-Fi at 4GB is free for one year, Lexus Enform Remote is also free for one year, allowing smartphone, smartwatch or Amazon Alexa devices access for remote start, checking vehicle status and more.
The Scout GPS Link & MapStream compatible service is free for three years.
All this and more has an MSRP of $42,785. The combination of hybrid efficiency with the utility of a compact crossover is a cLexus comfort, technology, customer service and reliability, and distinctive styling with AWD utility. A compelling choice for those seeking these attributes.