MILDLY UPDATED: 2023 LEXUS UX 250H F SPORT HANDLING PACKAGE
With Lexus’ smallest UX crossover having been launched in 2019, some might say it’s bit overdue for an update as it reaches four-years old. And that is just what we have here, a slight update that involves Lexus’ latest gadgetry making for huge improvements on such a little brute.
Styling wise, not much has changed given that there are subtle cues of the newest Lexus generation in its design, like the LED taillight bar on the back hatch. Unknown to most buyers will be the loss of the entry level UX 200, the turbocharged four-cylinder option that was surprisingly slower than the growth of my saving account. This now leaves the UX as a hybrid only model powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor.
With the UX 200 now out of the picture, the UX 250h starts just under $36,000 being available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. New to the picture are two different F SPORT packages; an F SPORT Design package that brings in the 18-inch F SPORT wheels, a honeycomb grille, and F SPORT styling starting at $38,385 or the F SPORT Handling packaging that adds in the F SPORT tuned suspension, highly bolstered front seats and a thicker, F SPORT perforated leather steering wheel.
Really, calling the UX 250h sporty is a bit like calling the sandwich shop employees Sandwich Artists. The F SPORT does add a little flair, but really, it is just a name. It takes over 8.5-seconds to achieve 60-mph and with an Active Sound Control system to give the interior cabin a boost of engine noise with gear changes goes to show it is trying to hide its true self. On the road however, it is well mannered, the F SPORT tuned suspension really plays a nice part in the ride and handling department with a firm response on road management while providing a supreme level of comfort within the cabin. Handling feels responsive as well despite the steering having a numb approach. And then there are the different drive modes from Eco, Normal, Sport and if you’re feeling rambunctious, Sport + that changes the TFT digital instrument cluster to look like a video game straight out of the Lexus LFA.
Settling into the highly supportive front seats that coddle you tighter than a spider webbing its prey, we’ll notice the biggest change to the UX is the new touchscreen infotainment system. Gone from the past, the old puck-like mouse and recessed screen has been tossed out for a much more user friendly, intuitive 12.3-inch touch screen display that features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto pairing along with Amazon Alexa connectivity. The 12.3-inch display is standard on all models except for the entry-level variant that sees an 8-inch touch screen. With the changing of the screens and removal of the mouse pad, Lexus has then moved the heated and ventilated front seat controls out from under the dash to a much more ergonomic location, near the center console.
Despite its small demeanor, the UX 250h is quite a comfortable little ute. Driving along, it doesn’t feel like such a small compact. The interior is uplifting with refined comfortable soft leather seats with both driver and passenger being power adjustable and the driver getting 3-way memory controls. The back seat is tight for obvious reasons, but with a gentle request to the front seat occupants to adjust their seats, room can be accommodating. Even the trunk space is adequate for quick jaunts to the store with a nicely flat, level floor and rear seats that fold flat at a pull of a lever.
With an average of just over 40-mpg’s the Lexus UX 250h is a compelling package in its F SPORT wrapping and premium catered interior. However, with pricing hitting $47,440 with all its optional extra’s the UX 250h is no longer the only sub-compact premium hybrid crossover in town with the Volvo XC40 raining in on its parade. Besides, one can’t help to look at the larger Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in its XSE form that offers better versatility, better MPG’s, better value wrapped in just as nice of a package.