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2019 Lexus UX 250h Premium Rocky Mountain Review by Dan Poler

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By Dan Poler
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

New for 2019, Lexus has brought us the “category defying” UX 250h. Lexus may just be right; There’s nothing quite like it out there. Although marketed as a subcompact luxury hybrid crossover, it’s difficult to not think “hatchback” when you see the vehicle firsthand.

The UX 250h is based on Toyota’s TNGA-C platform which it shares with the Corolla, among others. But here, Lexus has dressed it up - it’s unmistakably Lexus, from every angle - particularly from the front where the Lexus signature spindle grille is prominent, and all the more so when featured on such a small vehicle.

Inside, the cabin is snug, but comfortable for the driver and front passenger. Materials are top notch throughout, as one would expect from Lexus. Seats up front are comfortable and supportive, with decent side bolstering to keep you in place as you run around the corners. In the second row, it’s a different story; there’s just not a lot of interior space to work with, and adults will not like spending much time in the back.

For the driver, controls are well-placed and easily in reach. Everything feels a little scaled-down; even the cupholders are reduced in size, barely accommodating a reusable water bottle; the use of the cupholders precludes easy access to some controls. Storage is limited, but smart - the center armrest has a single cover that can open in two ways either toward the driver or toward the front passenger.

Our UX 250h had the optional 10.3” widescreen on the dash, an upgrade from the 7” display that comes as standard equipment. It’s easy to read, and services like CarPlay look great in widescreen - but the system does carry with it some limitations: When using CarPlay, it must occupy the entire screen, wasting an opportunity to present a side-by-side split screen. And there’s the trackpad. As with most setups of this type, It’s distracting and annoying to use, requiring multiple gestures to highlight an item on screen for selection.

The UX 250h feels and drives very narrow, yet long, owing to the depth of the grille sticking out in front. Several times the parking sensors went off sooner than expected, alerting me to being closer to the object than I thought. Nevertheless, driving is a pleasant affair. Acceleration is a bit laggardly off the line, feeling almost like turbo lag as the gas engine (very smoothly) engages and adds to acceleration. There is a much-appreciated sport mode which adds a tachometer to the digital dash; while it’s fun, it doesn’t fool one into believing they’ve got a race car in the UX 250h.

Driving at speed is composed, with road noise noticeable but not overbearing. I very much appreciated the triple-beam LED headlights, perhaps the finest headlights on any vehicle recently driven. The UX 250h is fun to sail around corners with momentum; there’s some perceptible lean, but not badly so. Steering is well-weighted and precise. It should be noted that the UX 250h is all-wheel drive - sort of. The gas engine powers only the front wheels; the rear wheels are electric-only and good up to 43 MPH.

Of course the UX 250h comes with a long list of safety features such as including 10 airbags, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and front seats designed to reduce whiplash in a rear-end collision. The excellent triple-beam LED headlamps help to earn the UX 250h an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (note that this award applies to vehicles built after July, 2019 and with the triple-beam headlamps only; without this option, IIHS rates the headlamps as Poor, which disqualifies the UX 250h from earning the recognition).

Although carrying a base price of $34,000, options quickly add to that; the test unit loaded with options checked in at $42,050.

I wasn’t prepared to enjoy the UX 250h as much as I did. Apart from infotainment annoyances and laggy acceleration, the UX 250h is a solid choice for city-dwellers and -drivers looking for a step up in their creature comforts.

Lexus UX 250h Premium
Engine Type: Four-Cylinder + Hybrid
Engine Size: 2.0L
Horsepower: 181
Torque (lb-ft): Unreported
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
Wheelbase / Length (in): 103.9 / 177
Curb Weight: 3605
Pounds per HP: 19.92
Fuel Capacity (gal): 10.6
Fuel Requirement: Regular Unleaded
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL450; 225/50RF18 95V
Brakes: Disc, With Regenerative Function
Suspension, front / rear: MacPherson strut / Multilink
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG
city / highway / combined / observed: 41 / 38 / 39 / 38
Base Price: $34,000
Base Trim Price: $35,175
Options and Charges
Premium Package: Moonroof, Rain Sensing Wipers, Heated and Ventilated Seats: $1,175
Option: Blind Spot Monitor: $500
Option: Wireless Charger: $75
Option: Windshield De-Icer: $100
Option: Triple Beam LED Headlamps with Auto-Leveling, Washers, LED Fog Lamps and
Cornering Lamps: $1,660
Option: Navigation System with 10.3” Color Multimedia Display, Lexus Enform Dynamic
Navigation, Dynamic Voice Command, Lexus Enform Destination Assist, 8-speaker Lexus
Premium Sound System, Auto-Dim Inner Mirror with HomeLink, Power Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel: $2,200
Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert w/Braking: $565
Power Rear Door w/Kick Sensor: $600
Option: Heated Steering Wheel: $150
Delivery: $1,025
Price as tested: $42,050

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