2024 Lexus UX Review and Test Drive

This little hybrid isn't so sporty, but it's still satisfying.

2024 Lexus UX 250h front quarter in bright red-orangeTim Stevens


While performance labels from some luxury brands — such as BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz's AMG — have earned storied status, others have struggled to establish recognition. Such is the case with the Lexus F line.

It doesn't help that the nomenclature can be confusing. There's the F Sport, the F Sport Design, the F Sport Handling, the F Sport Performance, and the top-tier F designations. I'm sure the distinctions are apparent within the halls of Lexus headquarters, but they're fuzzy outside those walls.

With some models, such as the Lexus RC 350, the F Sport designation makes for a racy experience far rowdier than its otherwise pedestrian trims can deliver. With other models, such as the IS 300 F Sport, the results are more sedate.

That brings me to the 2024 Lexus UX 250h F Sport Handling. At the end of a weeklong evaluation, I struggled to find anything sporty, F or otherwise, about it. But that's not necessarily a mark against this efficient, luxury-minded hybrid crossover SUV. During my evaluation, the 2024 UX was a practical and efficient ride, if not a particularly invigorating one.

2024 Lexus UX 250h rear quarter in bright red-orangeTim Stevens

Multiple Options for the Lexus Ux 250h's Price and Configuration

The F Sport Handling sits at the top of the four UX 250h trims. The entry-level version is simply called the UX 250h, and you can upgrade from there to the UX 250h Premium, UX 250h F Sport Design, and UX 250h F Sport Handling.

Prices range from the mid-$30,000s to the mid-$40,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from its assembly plant in Fukuoka, Japan. Each UX comes with a hybrid powertrain and front-wheel drive (FWD). All-wheel drive (AWD) is available for $1,400 more.

My test vehicle arrived in F Sport Handling spec with FWD. Optional equipment included parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, and a wireless smartphone charger.

These upgrades brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $45,955, including the $1,150 destination charge. Lexus provided the UX 250h for this review.

2024 Lexus UX 250h dashboardTim Stevens

A Clean, Sharp, Practical Look

The UX 250h is one of those machines that straddles categories. Lexus calls it an SUV, but it's hard not to see it as a hatchback or even a station wagon. The extra gap in the fenders gives it a slightly rugged air, while the sharp creases and cuts make for a compelling, attractive shape. My test car's metallic orange hue enhanced that impression.

From the driver's seat, the vehicle feels even less like an SUV. Controls and touchpoints wrap around you and are close at hand. There's none of the open airiness or sense of volume found in the average SUV. You're sitting in the Lexus UX's seats, not on them, and in my opinion, that's a good thing — especially in a vehicle with sporting pretensions.

The interior of the UX 250h is visually compelling if muted in the all-black trim of my test vehicle. Contrasting shapes and surfaces overlap and flow together nicely, in some cases even taking cues from the Lexus LC 500. After many years on the market, the LC 500 still offers one of the most striking interiors out there.

But the UX costs less than half as much as the LC — and you can tell. Vinyl and rubber are the predominant surfaces on the dashboard and door panels, bisected by dark brushed metal and bright red stitching. The highlights are the perforated leather on the steering wheel, shifter, and seats — all part of the F Sport Handling package.

The materials look and feel good for the most part, except for the hard plastics on the center tunnel and low on the door panels. The controls have a satisfying weight and balance, from the cool feel of the metal shift paddles to the satisfying twist of the mode-selector knob mounted high on the dash.

Aside from a breakout of buttons next to the shifter for controlling the heated and cooled seats, all of the car's climate controls live in a row on the dashboard's center, just beneath the 12.3-inch touchscreen.

The steering wheel controls are comprehensive. A four-way rocker and other buttons for cycling through the displays and settings on that gauge cluster live on the left stalk. On the right, a bevy of buttons operates the car's adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist system.

2024 Lexus UX 250h back seatTim Stevens

Comfortable, if a Bit Cozy

Due to the tall center console and the way the dash sweeps around you, the Lexus UX provides a secure and cozy position behind the steering wheel. But if you need a bit more room to move while driving, you may find it cramped.

Slotting into the back seat requires tall adults to duck. I'm 6 feet tall and had to crane my neck to prevent banging my head on the upper portion of the door frame on the way in. The roofline may be generous at the back, but the way the rear roof pillar flows up to give the UX a coupe-like shape doesn't make it easier to enter this Lexus.

Once seated, though, there's plenty of headroom back there. Legroom is limited but satisfactory, and while you could seat three across for a total of five in the UX 250h, that number of adult passengers would struggle to maintain civility for long.

A power sunroof provides some extra light to brighten up the desaturated interior. Still, it's not panoramic, meaning rear-seat passengers have nothing but the headliner to look at. At least the quality woven microfiber is attractive and pleasant to touch.

2024 Lexus UX 250h cargo areaTim Stevens

Limited Cargo for a Hatchback

The UX 250h provides 17.1 cubic-feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, which is small compared with entry-level SUVs such as the Audi Q3, which offers 23.7 cu-ft. Even the Toyota Prius is more spacious, supplying up to 23.8 cu-ft of cargo space. However, the UX makes the most of its trunk, including flip-out hooks for shopping bags to ensure your avocados don't escape on a sporty trip home from the grocery store.

Within the cabin, there's little room for stuff of any sort. The armrest has a clever top that opens either left or right, revealing a space big enough for a loaf of bread. Slender door panels make room for small water bottles but not much else. There's also the glovebox, home to the generously sized owner's manual, which takes up nearly all the space. Rear-seat passengers have a pair of cupholders in the fold-down armrest, and that's it.

If you're the sort who fills your car with many things, whether purses, tissue boxes, or hand sanitizer, you might struggle to find space for it all inside the Lexus UX.

2024 Lexus UX 250h infotainment screenTim Stevens

Lexus Interface: Simple yet Comprehensive

Lexus equips the UX with a 12.3-inch touchscreen perched high on the dash. It's bright, crisp, and a good home for the stark, simple, intuitive user interface. Curiously, there's no home screen, just multiple pages for key sections, such as navigation, media, and vehicle settings.

Everything is easy to set up. Pairing for wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay takes just seconds, and once there, you're presented with another section to make jumping into or out of those interfaces easy. However, the system's integrated navigation and voice control are good enough that you may find it unnecessary to connect to your smartphone often.

Part of the Drive Connect subscription service — complimentary for the first three years — the integrated voice assistant responds to a press of the dedicated steering wheel button or if you simply say, "Hey, Lexus." It works pretty well, unflummoxed by even the most convoluted city or street names. It quickly found my closest coffee shop and even targeted a little food truck just down the street when I said, "I'm hungry."

The test vehicle's 10-speaker premium sound system is deliciously crisp, with a well-rounded tone that's more than capable of filling the small cabin with good sound. It's powerful without being boomy.

2024 Lexus UX 250h driver dash screenTim Stevens

Lexus Safety System+ 2.5: Basic but Faultless

Every 2024 Lexus UX 250h includes a variety of standard safety features as part of Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 (LSS+ 2.5). They range from forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection to adaptive cruise control to lane-keeping and lane-centering assist.

The adaptive cruise control always recognized traffic ahead and adjusted speed accordingly, and the lane-keeping and lane-centering assist likewise did a solid job of keeping the UX securely within its lane. However, you won't find anything more advanced here. While some competitors offer more hands-free driving assistance systems, LSS+ 2.5 remains a hands-on technology.

At least it is smooth and easy to live with, and you probably won't feel like you're wrestling the software for control.

2024 Lexus Ux 250h Safety Ratings

As of publication, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not performed crash tests on the 2024 Lexus UX. Check the IIHS website for updates.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2024 UX 250h an overall five-star rating. The vehicle scored four stars for protection in frontal-impact crashes, a five-star side-impact crash rating, and four stars for rollover risk.

2024 Lexus UX 250h engineTim Stevens

A Small Engine With Hybrid Power

Every Lexus UX has a hybrid powertrain with two motor generators based on a modest 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and it delivers just 181 horsepower at a lofty 6,000 rpm. With AWD, a third electric motor generator powers the rear wheels at speeds up to 43 mph.

Eco, Normal, and Sport driving modes are available. There is an EV Mode button near the shifter for use only at low speeds, such as in traffic or when prowling shopping center parking lots. The F Sport Handling trim adds optimistic Sport S, Sport S+, and Custom driving modes, but its adaptive damping suspension distinguishes this version of the UX.

2024 Lexus UX 250h rear quarter in bright red-orangeTim Stevens

Frugal Minded and Gentle Performing

Lexus claims the UX 250h accelerates to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, but the SUV feels even slower. Performance is middling at best, and when pressed hard, the four-cylinder makes more noise but not much extra in the way of acceleration.

Put the UX 250h F Sport Handling into Sport+ mode, and the digital tachometer turns a flashy orange, the transmission swinging lazily through different ratios if you provide instruction via the shift paddles. Regardless of the engine's revs, there's just not much power. Once you coax the crossover up to speed, there's more road noise than I'd expect in a Lexus, especially on concrete and tired asphalt.

2024 Lexus UX 250h front quarter in bright red-orangeTim Stevens

Thanks to the adaptive damping suspension, the UX 250h F Sport Handling can deliver a smooth and comfortable ride or firm up for a more rousing feel. In addition, the steering is sharp and responsive, progressive enough to make the UX feel more engaging than your average hybrid hatchback. Unfortunately, the 18-inch Bridgestone Turanza tires give up their grip quickly, complaining all the while.

Fuel efficiency is the UX hybrid's forte. According to the EPA, the 2024 Lexus UX 250h gets 43/41/42 mpg city/highway/combined with FWD. Opt for AWD and that drops to 41/38/39 mpg. On my testing loop, which features a mixture of highway and secondary roads, I saw 37.9 mpg from my front-drive test model.

2024 Lexus UX 250h side viewTim Stevens

Is the 2024 Lexus Ux 250h a Good Suv?

I've been a fan of the various Lexus F Sport offerings over the years, but in this case, I'm struggling to see the merit in spending extra for the sportier looks and handling. That said, the UX 250h left a pleasant overall impression, especially when viewed as a car instead of a crossover SUV.

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Tim Stevens
Tim Stevens is a veteran editor, analyst, and expert in the tech and automotive industries. He helmed a major website's automotive coverage for nine years and acted as its content chief. Prior to that, Tim served as the editorial lead at a tech-oriented site and even led a previous life as an enterprise software architect.