By on June 24, 2020

2020 Lexus UX 250h

2.0-liter DOHC four with two-motor hybrid system (181 total system horsepower)

Continuously-variable transmission, all-wheel drive

41 city / 38 highway / 39 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

41.7 (observed mileage, MPG)

5.7 city / 6.2 highway / 6.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $40,575 US / $42,226 CAN

As Tested: $43,625 US / $47,526 CAN

Prices include $1595 destination charge in the United States and $2,226 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

The study of user experience, often shortened to UX (since everything needs to fit in a neat 140-character limit), looks at how humans interact with a particular system. Often applied to computers, cell phones, and the like, UX looks at usability, ergonomics, and human feelings as they pertain to whatever system is being studied.

Lexus has a different definition for UX. The brand’s UX is this 2020 Lexus UX 250h, an “Urban Crossover.” While budget constraints have affected city infrastructure maintenance nationwide, leaving many roads a pockmarked hellscape, I’m not completely certain I buy the crossover story. So I grabbed the keyfob, prepared to thrash this pretender in the old TTAC tradition.

2020 Lexus UX 250h profile

I’m not completely sold on the styling. To be fair, there are only so many ways one can style this jacked hatch type of vehicle without the result looking like some overwrought L.A. Gear hightop sneaker from the late Eighties. Lexus’ signature hourglass grille isn’t as offensive here as in other models – it’s proportionate and almost understated.

[Get a price quote on the Lexus UX here!]

The wheel arches, however, bother me. See the above profile view. The aperture of the fender and the black plastic cladding both make the opening look asymmetrical. To my eyes, the arches are rounded toward the front of the car, and more squared toward the rear. It’s a weird effect I can’t help but notice.

Out back, however, is a delightful touch. Tail fins!

2020 Lexus UX 250h taillamp

Well, no, not really tail fins, but a tiny raised surface on each tail lamp stands proud, reminding me of the toned-down fins that appeared on American cars in the mid-Sixties. It’s a lovely detail.

This paint. Swoon. Lexus calls it Nori Green Pearl, and I was underwhelmed when I first saw it under overcast skies, sitting beneath my pear tree. Once some light falls on it, however, the colors start to dance. I’m not good enough with the camera to properly do this color justice – try and spot one on the road or at a dealer and you’ll see what I mean. And, unlike special hues found on many, many other cars, it’s not an extra cost option.

The interior further surprised me. It’s not as cramped as I’d expected from the subcompact classification. Indeed, my family of four journeyed to a new hiking spot a few hours away and emerged with absolutely no discomfort or complaints from the increasingly whiny tweens. One note – real leather seats are not available. The NuLuxe material, however, felt as good as a real hide.

2020 Lexus UX 250h interior

One point of user experience that seems to elicit complaints across the Lexus lineup comes from the infotainment control. No matter the car, the touchpad is always a bit too sensitive. Here, Lexus changes up the primary control buttons that sit just aft of the offending pad, giving tuning knobs for volume and, well, tuning, and a couple of hotkeys to toggle between radio and media. I suppose with plenty of driving time, these controls will become familiar, but I often found myself looking down to change various functions rather than keeping my eyes on the glass. I’d like to see Lexus completely reevaluate the UX here across the line – not just on the UX.

2020 Lexus UX 250h infotainment controls

Cargo space isn’t massive at 17.1 cubic feet (down from 21.7 on the non-hybrid, front-drive UX 200), but it’s workable for the target market. As you’ll see, we managed a warehouse club run without problem, and without folding the seatback. Okay, well, maybe I fibbed – the hatch wouldn’t close as you see it here. Had I done a better job of arranging things I’m sure I’d have been fine. That massive barrel of cheese balls was fouling the hatch opening, so I tossed it in the back seat. I need to get better at grocery Tetris.

2020 Lexus UX 250h cargo

Now, for what everyone looks for in a hybrid subcompact crossover: a stellar driving experience. Well, I took FTD at a local autocross. . . no, I can’t get through that with a straight face, either. But my goodness the UX 250h drives better than it really should. Steering is quick and direct without being darty, and is nicely weighted, too. A curb weight of 3,605 pounds means the 181 horses aren’t setting the tires ablaze, but the response from the engine and pair of electric motors is quite good when getting away from a light or hustling through the twisties.

2020 Lexus UX 250h front seat 2020 Lexus UX 250h rear seat

No, I’m not joking about that one – that hiking trip took us through some of southeastern Ohio’s best two-lanes, and the UX felt right at home. We ended up continuing down a poorly maintained, potholed one-lane gravel road to get to our trailhead, and despite some nasty rocks loudly pounding the undercarriage when I overcooked a few turns, the wee hatchback managed nicely.

2020 Lexus UX 250h center stack

I never expected to like this 2020 Lexus UX250h. From the outside, it’s a cynical take on the crossover genre with some divisive styling touches. Behind the wheel, however, it’s surprising in a good way. It’s not the right car for my family, but it very well may be perfect for you.

2020 Lexus UX 250h rear quarter

[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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24 Comments on “2020 Lexus UX250h Review – A Surprising User Experience...”


  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Could you comment a bit on the ride quality? Sporty/Stiff or plush/cushy? Potholes and expansion joint etc rattle through the cabin or fade away with a quiet thud?

    Got a relative looking for a small city car in Chicago. I wouldn’t normally recommend something like this buy they like the idea of Lexus quality and reliability, and need a tiny car (A3/Golf/Focus hatch kinda thing) to not have difficulty getting into their parking space. This might be one of the few cars out there that could maybe actually work for them.

    But a stiff ride might be a deal killer if this thing is trying to be sporty and not gobble up Chicago potholes.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Cadillac had taillight finlets On the last SRX, introduced over 10 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      To auto journalists, it’s not an idea or an innovation if it’s on a Cadillac. It’s only notable when someone else does it 5 years after Cadillac did it.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Looks like they finally nailed the CT200h.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I like this in theory, but that price is just way more than I’m willing to put out. So far the Mazda CX-30 seems most likely in my future, or a used CX-5, or maybe a used 17-18 Mazda3 hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      And with a Mazda you can actually get adaptive cruise, leather and rainsense wipers

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      CX-30 would be the car I would get too. Definitely a very nice car for the money.
      (I wish they had the manual transmission option they have overseas, but alas)

      That said, you can tell where the price difference went in the car when you sit in the UX (which is saying a lot given how nice the CX-30 interior is). The touchpad controller was bad as always, but I was pleasantly surprised with the whole car. But pricey, yeah.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Pretty much what I have been looking for in price, I4 non turbo, size and amenities. But the dark wheel well cladding is a deal killer. Luxury??? What were they thinking. Other Lexus CUV offerings are too large.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Urban Crossover” to conquer the untamed speedbumps and potholes of the wild urban landscape. No mall too vast or carpool lane too treacherous for our little urban assault vehicle. You’ll feel like an urban cowboy as you roam the great suburban frontier

    Man, I feel more alpha already :)

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    A dreadfully ugly vehicle. Which is why it fits so well into their line up, they are all dreadfully ugly. Coming and going, front and rear, this thing is a mess.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Five words:

    Forty-three thousand dollars. Nope.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    FreedMike… that’s it in a nutshell. ‘Nuff said!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Is this a RAV4 with the magic L badge? That L is worth a LOT to the average suburbanite. You can park next to a BMW and feel pretty good about yourself. And no haggling with the hungry under-commissioned college dropout with long waits while he “sees his manager” at the Toyota store either.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    …searches for a website called The Truth about Food [and pseudo non-food factory ‘stuff’]

    (Hopefully the real stuff is buried underneath. Judgment mode off.)

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    $#!+box

  • avatar
    BrentinWA

    $43,000… no cowhide, no adaptive cruse and no rain sense wipers. Luxury? Hardly.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’ve not driven the UX, but have driven a number of its NX cousins. I find that vehicle, cramped, stiff-riding and with the worst-sounding engine I’ve yet heard. I guess selling these allows Lexus to build better quality into their bigger cars, but overall, Lexus seems to be seeking opportunities to cheapen their brand.

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