When Lexus teased the UX (short for urban crossover) Concept way back at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the vehicle represented quite a design evolution from the then-current lineup. The production version manufactured a couple of years later, sold in gasoline and partially electrified form, proved to be a tad tamer, but even now still stands out on the road — particularly in the bright Redline colour Darpan tested.
“The Canadian compact luxury SUV segment is booming as drivers look for a vehicle that matches today’s urban lifestyle,” says Robert Tsang, Lexus Canada director, in a news release during the model’s initial launch.
“As the segment’s first self-charging hybrid, the UX 250h offers Canadian drivers everything they love about compact luxury SUV plus incredible performance with standard active safety features and fuel efficiency – at a price that makes it easy to embrace the advantages of Lexus electrification technology.”
While the bodylines have been smoothed over a bit, the UX remains quite faithful to the angular styling of the concept. The standard spindle grille adopts a geometric-style, block-shaped asymmetrical mesh pattern creating a truly 3-D aesthetic. The chunky black wheel arches remain — crafted to channel airflow for better aerodynamics — and the rear end features full-length tail lamps comprised of 120 LEDs looking particularly dazzling when illuminated at night.
At 4,495 millimetres long and 1,840 millimetres wide, the car-sized crossover fits well in the city and has a turning radius competitors would be jealous of. The only missing thing is factory tinted glass for warm weather comfort and privacy.
There’s no spider-web-inspired seats or see-through A-pillars inside but there are a few cool design tweaks. The instrument hood purposely sits low to increase the driver’s spatial awareness, and media controls are placed ahead of the armrest so tuning the radio station or changing the volume can be done without glancing away from the road. This setup works surprisingly well and usage quickly becomes second nature.
Our loaner was equipped with the F SPORT Series 2 package bundling a number of exterior and interior upgrades including black trim, exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels, triple LED adaptive headlights, digital instrument cluster, eight-speaker premium stereo, wallet-sized smart key card and a nice chunky heated leather wheel.
The hybrid is powered by an ultra-efficient combination 2.0-litre four-cylinder internal combustion engine and two electric motors, sending 181 net horsepower to all four wheels via an electric all-wheel drive system, mated to a continuously variable transmission. Especially during these uncertain economic times where gas prices are at record highs, this fuel-thrifty setup is a welcome one.
As mentioned above, the SUV is very car-like and doesn’t feel cumbersome to operate on narrow roads. The Macpherson front/multi-link rear suspension provides a tight handling experience, and it’s also easy to park thanks to the excellent ultrasonic sensors warning when objects are getting too close. A birds-eye 360-degree camera would be a bonus, but not necessary.
The 2022 Lexus UX 250h starts at $40,750. Next year, the vehicle receives a refresh increasing rigidity and improving quietness. In addition, there will be a bigger infotainment touchscreen and available active variable suspension as well.
Highlights (as tested):
Motor: 2.0-litre four cylinder + two electric motors
Horsepower: 181 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 221 (net)
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 6.7 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)