Road Review: Through the Paces

2019 Lexus UX 250h AWD
Courtney Messenbaugh

The Lexus UX was new to the Lexus lineup for model year 2019. Its small size, nimble steering, and superior fuel economy put it in stark contrast to the slew of enormous luxury SUVs on the road. If you’re wondering, UX stands for Urban Explorer, and that’s exactly where this car primarily excels.

The entry-level model is the UX 200, which starts at $32,300, comes with a suite of standard features to keep you safe and comfortable, and has a combined fuel economy of 33 mpg. From there, you can upgrade to the 200F Sport model for $34,300, which includes more aggressive styling and athletic suspension, or the 250h with hybrid engine for $34,350, which gives you a peppier ride than its siblings, and better fuel economy (39 mpg combined). Each model is available with a Luxury package that adds a few other goodies like an automatic rear liftgate with kick sensor.

We test drove a UX 250h for a week, and put it through the paces to find out how it performs with our Colorado lifestyles.

  • Perfect for zipping around town
    With a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder hybrid engine that creates 181-hosepower, the UX 250h produces more power than the 200’s standard engine. It’s also the only model in the lineup to come with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), which is useful for cruising around in Colorado’s variable conditions. Moreover, with the simple turn of a dial, the Drive Select Mode gives you the option to kick things up a notch into Sport Mode, or tone things down and save on fuel economy in Eco Mode.
  • Great on fuel economy
    At a combined 41 mpg, this means fewer trips to the gas station, and more time to enjoy the outdoors, sample Denver’s nightlife, or cheer on one of our hometown teams.
  • Serious on safety
    The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 offers one of the most advanced standard packages of active safety features and includes a pre-collision warning system with pedestrian detection, and whiplash-reducing front seats. Plus, the UX 250h is a “Top Safety Pick” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), meaning it crushed the crash tests.
  • Small is good, but…
    The diminutive UX 250h is perfect for darting around the crowded Colorado roads and sliding into tight parking spaces, but being pint-sized does not lend itself to a plethora of extra room for storage. With only 17.1-cubic feet of rear cargo space, gear-dependent Coloradoans might want to consider adding a rooftop box or ski rack to the UX. The cupholders are also notably slim. Since you’re supposed to drink at least two liters of water a day, especially here at altitude, you need your water bottle nearby, and the UX’s cupholders don’t fit a regular-sized, reusable water bottle.
  • Technical difficulties
    The Lexus Remote Touch system employs a flat 7-inch touchpad for navigating the information and entertainment systems, but it’s less than intuitive. You want to be able to get to your destination or play tunes without much interface fuss. Unfortunately, this system doesn’t quite deliver in that regard…yet.

Courtney Messenbaugh is a freelance writer in Lafayette who has been writing about cars and life in the car for more than a decade.