Entry price: $32,300
Price as tested: $39,635
This week, we’re behind the wheel of the all-new 2020 Lexus UX250h, a compact SUV delivered in hybrid dress. Notable is that all of the hybrids feature all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard fare and are becoming a popular choice in the smaller luxury SUV class.
In deciphering the model number and letters just a bit, the “h” in UX250h refers to a hybrid electric power system while UX designates the new model as a member of the impressive family of Lexus SUVs that all utilize the letter “X” for nomenclature distinction. There are two series of UX, namely non-hybrid front-drive 200 and AWD 250 hybrid.
This impressive family of compact Lexus “X” SUVs starts with the non-hybrid UX200 at just $32,300 and then moves up to UX200 Sport at $33,900, followed by UX200 Luxury at $37,500. The hybrids include our tester UX250h at $34,500 followed by UX250h F Sport at $36,250 and top line UX250h Luxury at $39,500.
Our tester UX250 hybrid is listed as a small/compact SUV by the EPA and debuted with the 2019 model introduction. This little Lexus hybrid offers a fuel mileage benefit over and above most of the competition. Motivation starts with an inline 2.0-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine that puts out a combined 181 horsepower when complemented with its high-output, permanent-magnet, electric-drive motor with an EV mode that works in tandem.
This engine/motor hybrid combo affords both full electric low speed driving and then very peppy, spirited performance when the internal combustion engine kicks in. The end result is excellent fuel economy listed at 41 city and 39 highway the EPA estimates. The 250h relies on a continuously variable transmission (CVT) special for the hybrid and will go zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds with a top track speed of 110 mph. It’s a little slow at the get go, but starts to move well when you hit 25 mph.
If you don’t want a hybrid, the front-drive UX200, with a similar inline 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 169 horses, starts at just $32,300 and delivers 29 city and 37 highway MPG utilizing a “10-speed” CVT transmission.
Known for abundant safety features resulting in 5-Star NHTSA ratings, all of the UX trims feature eight airbags and added structural protection features. Lexus thus delivers excellent safety with superior impact performance in front, side and rollover test evaluations. Well noted is that every Lexus UX series SUV, be it hybrid or not, comes with the Lexus Safety System Plus and Enform Safety Connect, which your Lexus dealer will explain in detail.
On the road, you’ll enjoy nimble handling and one of the quietest cabins in the compact SUV class. The standard Bridgestone 18-inch run-flat all-season tires are noteworthy and assist in planting the UX250h in the turns. The AWD system is fully automatic and thanks to several smaller snow storms Mother Nature sent our way, we got a chance to experience the AWD system’s traction capabilities and everything was fine.
Inside, a standard six-speaker Lexus Audio System sounds great, but our tester featured the optional Navigation with Stereo Upgrade for $2,200 more. Featuring a 10.3-inch split screen multimedia display and an eight-speaker stereo Lexus Premium Sound System, this upgrade delivers a fine sounding surround-sound experience. The secret is how Lexus incorporates an optimized speaker placement throughout the cabin, including a front-center speaker, six side speakers and a subwoofer in the rear.
Also included are SiriusXM satellite, HD radio and, surprise, a CD player as Lexus hasn’t forgotten consumers who have purchased hundreds of CDs through the years. A separate controller on the front of the console box controls everything radio and it does take a while getting used to. A second main menu infotainment controller is similar to a notebook touchpad finger controller that handles everything from navigation to the many apps and comfort features available on the main display. Included are four USB hubs, Apple/Android compatibility and also an Alexa feature to top things off. Throw in a government top safety rating of 5 stars, and there are countless reasons why consumers should include a test drive if shopping this ever-growing segment.
The Lexus cabin is first class all the way in that it both looks and feels great thanks to the Lexus touch of affluence. Expect a comfortable ride on those long, freeway drives that will seem to go quicker for passengers thanks to Lexus Enform onboard system. This feature is Wi-Fi centered where up to five devices can connect including tablets, laptops and smartphones that will please passengers by extending tech capability. Lexus Enform Wi-Fi includes 4GB capability and comes with a free three-month trial.
Options include a $1,675 Premium Package that adds a power moonroof, Japanese inspired Washi interior trim upgrade, rain sensing wipers, power tilt and slide moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert. A power read liftgate with foot activated slide/kick sensor (very nice) adds $600 while a triple beam auto leveling LED headlamps with foglamps and headlamp washer option costs another $1,600. With delivery of $1,025, our tester’s final retail came in at $39,635.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.9-inches, 3,605-pound curb weight, 34.2 ft. turn radius, 10.6 gallon fuel tank, and 17.1 cu. ft. of cargo capacity behind the second row.
Lexus proudly proclaims to prospective consumers that the UX200 and UX250h series offers “category leading and category defining” features. It also offers consumers the luxury brand’s most desirable features in a compact-luxury-SUV that is not only a class leading, efficient vehicle, it’s also fun to drive, easy to park and very quiet inside.
Overall, the reality that you can park a brand new 2020 Lexus UX or UX Hybrid or in your driveway for $34,500 or less, it makes the reality of owning a Lexus brand small SUV as close as your nearest Lexus dealer.
Either way, you’re in good hands.
Likes: New, compact size; efficient hybrid system, fuel mileage, Lexus opulence.
Dislikes: Radio controller, pricey options, a little engine noise.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2020 Lexus UX250h compact SUV
Entry price: $32,300