2021 Lexus UX 250h Brings Compact Hybrid Style To the Streets

by Aaron Turpen

The 2021 Lexus UX 250h is the latest rendition of the UX introduced in 2019. This new version keeps the compact, luxurious styling and interior of the UX 250h, but adds a little more cargo space and more standard safety features. It’s attractively priced, right-sized for its intended audience, and carries the Lexus penchant for excellent interior design and comfort.

It’s unique to find a hybrid powertrain in a luxury vehicle this small, with most other makes skipping electrics altogether or introducing new (usually pared down or expensively upscaled) electrified models instead. Lexus, being a part of Toyota, loves its hybrids though and the UX 250h is as well done as it is unique.

The 2021 Lexus UX 250h has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two motors and a continuously variable transmission to make all-wheel drive and high efficiency. The total system output is 181 horsepower, which is adequate for the UX’s size, but not enough to make words like “sporty” or “fun” get thrown around in its presence. Still, the standard AWD is a big plus and the amount of off-the-line power of the UX 250h is considerably more than what’s felt in the standard gasoline model UX 200.

Fuel economy in the UX 250h is also very good. The EPA rates it at 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Our highway test of the 2021 UX 250h returned 36.7 mpg, but given our high altitude, we’d say the EPA expectation is close to reality for most drivers. Our average after a week of driving that included a lot of around town jaunts was 38.4 mpg altogether. Not bad at all.

Base equipment for the 2021 Lexus UX 250h is plentiful. Things like 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, dual-zone climate control, simulated leather upholstery, a 7-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and a WiFi hotspot are all there. So is the full Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 with forward collision mitigation, lane departure mitigation (with lane-keeping), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.

Upgrade options for the 2021 UX 250h include a host of convenience items like automatic wipers, a larger (10.3-inch) infotainment display, upgraded audio, a head-up display, and more. The F Sport model has unique wheels, some aerodynamic body kit pieces, sport front seating, etc.

Like many luxury vehicles, the UX 250h can get expensive when a lot of options are added on, but some of those may be well worth what’s being paid. Given how well-outfitted the base model is, though, there are only a few things we can think of (think: stereo and heated/ventilated seating) to add on. So basically the UX 250h base model with the Premium package.

Why not upgrade the infotainment too? Well, because it’s terrible. There’s no nice way to couch the description of how Lexus’ infotainment is. It uses a mouse-like command interface that is neither intuitive nor useful. Responses are usually quick, but the user interface is often needlessly cluttered and everything about the infotainment system feels outdated. It’s Lexus’ most glaring weak point and it’s universal across the Lexus lineup.

Outside of that, though, the 2021 Lexus UX 250h is a great little crossover. It’s right-sized for its audience, efficient, and worry-free. Some have panned its lackluster acceleration, but the UX doesn’t pretend to be a sports model or anything exciting. It’s a small, but comfortable and smooth luxury vehicle. One of the better choices in the compact vehicle segment, we think.

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