The definition of a crossover or SUV has been blurred. It’s hard to tell which one is and isn’t because automakers are twisting the notion by offering so many variations. These days, it’s best to determine where in the spectrum a specific vehicle lands at. The 2022 Lexus UX 250h veers closer toward the car end. Aimed at the entry-level luxury customer, Lexus’ smallest utility vehicle has big shoes to fill competing in a hot segment.
2022 Lexus UX 250h exterior
Essentially a lifted hatchback with body cladding, the 2022 Lexus UX 250h is one of the sharpest looking vehicles in the brand’s lineup. Most of the design cues from the concept it’s based on are intact. The spindle grille remains while the headlights are less angular. One of its most unique elements is the full-width LED taillights with integrated tail fins that give the car a throwback vibe. Blue Lexus badges, hybrid badges on the lower part of the rear doors, and a blue UX 250h badge on the tailgate hint at this crossover’s electrified nature.
2022 Lexus UX 250h interior
The first thing you’ll notice getting inside the UX 250h is how small the interior is. Like several vehicles on the TNGA-C platform, it’s best to treat the pint-size Lexus as a vehicle for couples or a single person. Although there are belts for three in the back, keep it to two and only for short trips because head and legroom are at a premium. Even in the front, there’s not much space for average-sized adults since the seats don’t lower much. Further making the cabin feel intimate is the dash, which feels like it’s pushing into you. Don’t expect a commanding seating position either because the UX is barely higher off the ground than the average compact car. The narrow glass area further hinders visibility, adding to the cabin’s snugness.
Equally limited is cargo capacity. You can’t stack or slide items in due to the high cargo floor and the rear window’s angle eating into the interior volume. You’ll need to fold the 60/40 split-folding rear seats to accommodate large items like suitcases. A ridge between the seat backs and the cargo area also means the load floor isn’t flushed. The UX has underfloor storage but it’s narrow and shallow. Both the center console bin and the glovebox are tiny, and the wireless charging pad can’t hold most modern smartphones securely.
Thankfully, Lexus didn’t skimp on the fit and finish. The UX exudes the aura of a proper luxury car, only in a smaller package. Everything is made of soft-touch plastic or is padded so that the places where your arms fall on are always nice and squishy. There’s even a cool dash topper that imitates the texture of Japanese Washi paper for a unique touch. The exclusive use of Lexus’ NuLuxe leatherette upholstery on all UX models also proves that you can create an upscale interior without using animal-based materials. Additional sound-deadening, however, could help keep road, tire, and wind noise down above 50 mph.
2022 Lexus UX 250h tech features
The UX is one of a handful of Lexus models that still has the old user interface. Our test car came with the optional 10.3-inch screen instead of the standard 7.0-inch unit. Unlike the ES and RX, everything is controlled via the finicky touch pad with inconsistent responses. Certain functions like the climate control’s Eco mode are also buried under multiple submenus. At least some of the dials and buttons you use frequently fall directly to your right hand because they’re just behind the touch pad. Surprisingly, the available eight-speaker audio system sounds pretty good. While clear and easily customizable, we wish Lexus offered the UX with the Mark Levinson surround sound system like in other markets.
Every 2022 UX 250h gets the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 driver assistance suite. It includes the usual suspects plus daytime cyclist detection and lowlight pedestrian detection. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on all models while rear automatic emergency braking is optional and bundled together with parking sensors.
The suite operates without getting overly intrusive. If you start to drift, lane centering and steering assist will gently nudge you back. With adaptive cruise control active, the car will help you navigate gentle turns on the highway as long as it can see road markings. The distancing component is calibrated more conservatively, leaving more room between you and the vehicle ahead even in the nearest setting and reducing speed earlier when traffic ahead slows down. In gridlock situations, the system moves the car more cautiously when the vehicle ahead pulls away.
2022 Lexus UX 250h driving impressions
Power comes from a hybrid system that couples a 2.0-liter four-cylinder to three electric motors, a nickel-metal-hydride battery, and a planetary gear set. The combined output is 181 hp. Unfortunately, the UX 250h’s 3,605-pound curb weight keeps it from moving with any sense of urgency even with electric motors’ instant responses. Although it’s fine for most driving situations including going up inclines at a steady pace, you must plan certain passing maneuvers, especially if you have more than one passenger.
You can tell that the UX 250h uses an older hybrid powertrain via its brake operation. It’s obvious where the transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking occur due to the car suddenly giving you a lot more stopping power than you asked for. There’s also a noticeable point as you press down on the brake pedal where you can anticipate the switch happening. At least there’s generous energy recuperation from the two electric drive motors, allowing you to recharge the battery as you slow down.
Despite the slightly lifted suspension, the UX 250h drives like a traditional hatchback. It’s easy to maneuver in tight spaces thanks to its tidy dimensions and tight turning circle. The littlest Lexus offers secure, sure-footed handling when the road starts to turn, changing directions and turning in eagerly. Light, accurate steering adds to the UX feeling manageable in urban areas. Body roll and vertical motions over bumps are managed well, too. Together with the low center of gravity, these contribute to the UX’s carlike road manners. The driving character is distinctly FWD because the 7-hp rear electric motor remains active up to 43 mph and only comes into the picture when you need extra traction.
Where that mild increase in ground clearance pays off is in ride comfort. Between the 18-inch alloy wheels shod in meaty tires and the suspension’s additional travel, the UX 250h stays compliant and does a good job dealing with all types of road imperfections. As a result, the passenger cabin is isolated nicely thanks to the additional compliance. We’d stick with the standard setup because it’s already on the firm side and the F Sport model stiffens it up further.
2022 Lexus UX 250h pricing
The base 2022 Lexus UX 250h starts at $36,425. Our Luxury-grade test car with several standalone options including the triple-beam LED headlights, a head-up display, parking sensors, a wireless charger, and the extra-cost Cloudburst Gray exterior color checks in at $44,615.
2022 Lexus UX 250h final verdict
Looking at the 2022 Lexus UX 250h as a hatchback makes more sense because it veers so far into the car end of the spectrum. With that said, this little rig is proof that premium small cars aren’t a myth when executed with the same build quality and attention to detail as larger ones. However, there are a lot of tradeoffs for the city-friendly size and maneuverability. That limits the UX’s appeal to a small niche of consumers that have specific requirements because of where they live. Lexus has a great starting point with the TNGA-C architecture. It’s now a matter of making the UX more usable to broaden its appeal.
At a glance
- Year: 2022
- Make: Lexus
- Model: UX 250h
- Trim: Luxury
- Type: 4-door subcompact crossover
- Combined horsepower: 181 hp
- MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 41/38/39
- Pros: Nice interior materials, comfortable ride, great steering
- Cons: Cramped interior, heavy curb weight hinders hybrid powertrain, limited front seat adjustments
- Base price: $36,425
- Price as tested: $44,615