CHATHAM, Mass. – The 2021 Lexus UX 250h provides an efficient package to fit into a city environment, but thanks to the efficiency of hybrid power and the go-in-any-weather security of all-wheel drive (AWD), it is also the perfect conveyance to take a couple and their stuff away from the metropolis, thus earning it the title “crossover for the urban dweller.”
Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota, labels the UX range a crossover, but you would be forgiven if you thought of it as a modern subcompact (180.5-inches long, 74.1 inches wide) four-door hatchback.
This vehicle blurs the line between sedan and SUV (sport utility vehicle), but it provides functionality for those needing room for up to five (the three in the rear need to be good friends for anything but the shortest journeys) and their gear to both maneuver around the urban/suburban landscape and then venture into the wide-open spaces.
Lexus IS 350 F Sport AWD Marries Luxury with Sport
It does all this in the traditional Lexus manner blending luxury and comfort with solidity and reliability – and in this F Sport trim AWD hybrid version, does it with high efficiency and reassuring performance.
Hybrid drivetrain which can learn where it is to your benefit
Small size plus hybrid gas-electric propulsion projects excellent fuel economy and the Lexus UX 250h F Sport delivers! The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates it at 41 miles per gallon in the city, 38 on the highway and 39 overall, but I never saw the MPG meter dip below 46 mpg during my week behind the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel (and for some extended suburban driving periods, 51.5 mpg)!
Power output from the combined electric and gasoline (four-cylinder, two-liter) engine is 181 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque operating through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The power distribution is optimized between the front and rear wheels by the vehicle stability control system when accelerating, cornering or driving on slippery surfaces.
Speaking of vehicle handling, this UX featured F SPORT suspension tuning including updated springs and stabilizer bars for a tighter, more-controlled ride. The 18-inch, five twin-spoke aluminum alloy wheels unique to the F SPORT are even more rigid than standard UX wheels, contributing to responsiveness and handling agility.
Everything works seamlessly, without driver involvement or knowledge. The driver can customize the UX 250h F Sport’s driving characteristics by selecting one of four modes: normal mode provides an optimal balance between driving performance and fuel efficiency; ECO mode maximizes fuel savings across all driving conditions by smoothing the throttle response, and by moderating air conditioning operation; Sport Mode delivers quicker throttle response and increased power steering feel. EV mode allows the UX 250h to drive in all electric under certain conditions.
Predictive Eco Drive Control, a world-first system, coupling with the navigation system, learns driving habits, predicts the expected roadway ahead and analyzes real-time traffic reports to optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery. The more miles the UX 250h is driven, the more data is gathered to help optimize fuel consumption.
Also operational with navigation, Predictive Deceleration Support technology uses accumulated knowledge about a driver’s behavior to predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow own or stop. For example, when the UX approaches a location where the driver has slowed or stopped in the past, and the driver releases the accelerator pedal, Predictive Deceleration support increases regenerative braking, allowing more efficient energy to be recovered and recharged into the hybrid battery. The system can provide deceleration support up to about 1,000 feet ahead of the vehicle.
Predictive State of Charge (SOC) control for the hybrid battery which functions on both downhill roads and in congested traffic. Operating when the UX is following guidance from the navigation system, it will predict the route for up to six miles ahead to optimize the conditions under which it can regenerate energy, earning power for future driving.
Luxury, comfort and convenience strong marks of the interior
The UX 250h is a Lexus which means a luxurious, comfortable cabin with a full complement of modern amenities. The F Sport version we drove included leather covered, heated, power-adjustable sport seats for both front-seat passengers, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a 10.3-inch color multi-function display at the heart of the navigation/infotainment/vehicle-control systems.
The ubiquitous Lexus laptop-like touchpad supplements buttons, switches and voice activation to control the UX’s various systems, allowing the driver to use whatever method works best for them (especially welcome are the volume and tuning knobs at the ideal fingertip position just in front of the center-console storage bin cover).
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (along with Sirius and Alexa voice assistants) are part of the eight-speaker premium-audio (part of the navigation-system package) infotainment system. Other interior features include an eight-inch customizable instrument cluster, head-up display, 60/40 split foldable rear seat, foot-activated power liftgate, USB power ports front and rear and, as part of the F Sport package, a panoramic sunroof.
Lexus Safety System 2.0 suite of advanced driver-assist systems
The comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) come under the umbrella of the Lexus Safety System 2.0 featuring: Pre-Collision System with Low-light and Daytime pedestrian and Daytime Cyclist Detection; All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Lane Tracing Assist; Road Sign Assist; Intelligent High-Beam headlamps, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
Comprehensive equipment levels are a hallmark of the Lexus brand, even amongst the base versions of each model range. This is true of the UX 250h F Sport which carries a $38,125 entry-level price (including $1,025 delivery, processing and handling fee). Equipping it the way it came to Cape Cod brings the price to $43,885 including major, important options like the navigation system ($2,200 which brings the 10.3-inch display, premium sound system), head-up display ($500) and $975 F Sport Premium Package (moonroof, heated front seats and rain-sensing wipers).
Lexus has earned its reputation for luxury vehicles and the 2021 UX 250h AWD F Sport slots right into the brand’s crossover/SUV lineup – a perfect fit if you spend most of your time manuevring around urban and suburban locales and then want to make a break for the great outdoors.
Next week TBR Drives the 2021 Honda Ridgeline midsize pickup truck