Lexus UX Review 2022

Lexus UX
Lexus UX

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"Posh and frugal family SUV"
  • Launched: 2019
  • Small SUV
  • Hybrid

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Sips fuel in town
  • High quality cabin
  • Excellent reputation for reliability

Cons

  • Not a lot of space for luggage or rear-seat passengers
  • Infotainment system isn't the slickest
  • Many buyers would prefer an Audi or BMW

Overall verdict

On the inside

Driving

Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Common questions

Overall Verdict on the Lexus UX

"The Lexus UX is a posh small SUV that's more relevant than ever thanks to its hybrid engine line-up and all-electric relation in the form of the UX 300e. While it might lack some of the kerb appeal of a Mercedes GLA or Volvo XC40, the stylish cabin and brand's reputation for dependability mean it's actually a really worthy choice for the SUV buyer willing to look beyond the obvious candidates."

Lexus UX Review 2022: front static

The small premium SUV market is bursting with some very strong competition for the Lexus UX reviewed here. As well as the Mercedes GLA and Volvo XC40 mentioned above, you'll probably want to consider the BMW X2, Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q3 and maybe even the new Alfa Romeo Tonale.


To stand out in this segment, the Lexus UX really needs to do something special. In that respect, it kind of fails. Many buyers would prefer an Audi or Mercedes badge on the front of their small SUV, while the design of the Lexus UX isn't going to attract admiring glances in the same way a Volvo XC40 or BMW X2 might.


Its USP, though, is found under the skin. The Lexus UX's mechanical bits are shared with the Toyota Corolla and Toyota C-HR – neither are particularly exciting, admittedly, but ownership surveys consistently rank them as two of the most reliable, efficient cars money can buy. And in the age of rising fuel costs and ever more complex cars, there's a lot to be said for high dependability and low running costs.


The only engine choice – aside from the fully-electric Lexus UX300e – is badged the UX250h. This is a hybrid setup which pairs a 2.0-litre petrol unit with an electric motor. There's also a four-wheel-drive model, which adds an extra electric motor to power the rear wheels, but few buyers consider this worthy of the knock in efficiency (not to mention the increased list price).


The Lexus UX is a lovely car to drive around town. The engine has the ability to switch off entirely for short periods, allowing you to coast around in silence (the UX300e is worth a look if you'd like to do more of that). It's the kind of car that isolates you from your surroundings, leaving you totally relaxed even after negotiating a congested city centre. The light controls add to the laid-back vibe, while it's worth hunting out one with the reversing camera to aid bump-free parking.


There's enough grunt for accelerating to motorway speeds, although planting the accelerator pedal into the floor will trigger a bit of a drone from the E-CVT transmission. You're much better building speed gently and revelling in the UX's impressive fuel economy (officially it'll return up to 53.3mpg and we saw close to that with our time with the car).


At higher speeds, you might notice a bit more wind and road noise making its way into the cabin than you might otherwise expect. The light steering doesn't provide as much confidence as the more communicative setup you'd find in a BMW X2, either, while the heavy batteries mean it thumps a little over potholes. A Volvo XC40 on small wheels is a softer, more comfortable choice.


The Lexus UX feels like a high-quality product inside, though. There are no rattles and squeaks, trim pieces have consistent gaps and the design is smart to look at. There's nothing flash about the cabin but it looks, feels and even smells like a premium place to be.


The tricky infotainment system is more of an issue. It uses a touchpad control in between the two front seats which require a Crystal Maze winning level of hand-eye coordination just to use it. That said, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard so you can avoid the car’s controls and use your phone’s voice activation system instead. 


What’s harder to get past is the fact that the Lexus isn’t that practical for an SUV. Sure, the front seats are spacious but jump in the back and even average-sized adults will find themselves stuck for knee room and dreaming of larger rear windows that make the Lexus feel less claustrophobic.  Factor in the incredibly shallow boot and, if you’re looking for a practical posh SUV, you are much better off with any of the Lexus’s competitors.


If you don’t need acres of space, though, there’s much to like about the UX. Its otherworldly body styling hides a hybrid engine deserving of the looks and capable of spectacular in-town fuel economy, and it’s a very relaxing car to drive. If that all sounds up your street then it’s worth breaking from the flock and considering the Lexus UX.


Is the Lexus UX right for you?

The Lexus UX is right for you if you want a hybrid SUV that’s cheap to run and relaxing to drive in town – it does this better than any of its rivals.


Rivals like the BMW X2 are more fun to drive and it’s not that spacious inside, but it does feel well-built and you get plenty of standard equipment – including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – which makes up for the lacklustre performance of the standard infotainment system.

What's the best Lexus UX model/engine to choose?

Answering the first half of that question is simple – the Lexus is only available with one engine, a petrol-electric hybrid that’s frugal on fuel. That said, we’d avoid the specifying the optional four-wheel drive which is largely pointless in a car you’ll probably never take off-road. 


There’s more to consider when it comes to trim levels. Money no object, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Takumi model with its fancy Mark Levinson surround sound system, 10.3-inch navigation display and ventilated front seats. Even the most affordable Lexus UX is well-equipped, though, while the F Sport model adds a few desirable touches.

What other cars are similar to the Lexus UX?

The question should almost be “What other cars aren't similar to the Lexus UX?” there are so many car’s like this to choose from. 


The BMW X1 is a great all-rounder. It looks smart, is posh inside and also a lot more practical than the Lexus. Sure, it can compete with the Lexus UX's in-town fuel economy, but it’s a more well-rounded package out of town and diesel models are still very cheap to run. 


Fancy something more comfortable, then consider the Range Rover Evoque. Its suspension soaks up bumps better than the Lexus’ and it’s also quieter in town. It’s also better off road and a more accomplished tow car.


Comfort and design: Lexus UX interior

"The Lexus UX’s interior is quite different to what you’ll find in a BMW, Mercedes or Audi SUV."

Lexus UX Review 2022: interior dashboard

Instead of the homogeneous design you get in the German cars, the Lexus’ cabin serves up a mix of shapes and textures with a dashboard that points towards you. 


It has a central infotainment screen that sits right in your eye line and below it, a classy piece of trim runs the length of the dashboard split by the Lexus’ pod-like instrument binnacle. You get conventional buttons for the ventilation system and buttons on the steering wheel for the stereo.


The downside of the unique approach is that the Lexus has controls you won’t find in other cars like the secondary stalks that sprout out of the sides of the instrument binnacle and a strange touchpad control for the infotainment system. More on that later.


If you’re expecting the Lexus to have a high-set driving position like a BMW X1 or Audi Q3 then you’ll be surprised, it’s barely taller than a normal car and, while we’re on the subject, rearward visibility isn’t great.


Getting a comfortable driving position shouldn’t be an issue, mind. Okay, so the steering wheel could move further towards you, but it has plenty of height adjustment, as does your driver’s seat. 


Standard UX models get a six-way manual adjustment for the driver’s seat, while F Sport cars and above get eight-way electrically adjustable heated front seats with lumbar support. Takumi versions go another step further with ventilated seats that have a memory function so you can save your exact setup if someone else uses the car.


Quality and finish

There’s no denying the Lexus UX is solidly constructed. Main plastics feel like they’d withstand a nuclear strike, gaps between materials are consistent and there are no squeaks or rattles.


What isn’t consistent is the material quality. Sure you find nice materials on the dashboard and door tops but the further down you poke the cheaper the materials seem to be. By comparison, a BMW X1 feels more consistently well-built.


Perceived quality improves depending on what model you go for. The standard UX makes do with fabric seats that look fine, so long as you avoid the Cobalt (blue and white) colour scheme.


F Sport models get posher looking Tahara Fabric seats (available in a range of tasteful and not so tasteful colour schemes) and sport aluminium pedals. 


Top-the-range Lexus UX Takumi models trump the lot, though. They have a leather interior as standard and also get a Washi Paper inspired centre console trim. 


As standard, the Lexus UX comes with a seven-inch centre-screen which is smaller than you get in most rivals and also features clunky old-school graphics that look dated compared to what you get in a BMW, Audi or Mercedes.


While the graphics aren’t great, the biggest problem with the infotainment screen is its touchpad controller. In theory, it should allow you to control the screen without having to take your eyes off the road. 


The reality, though, is that the cursor is extremely hard to control accurately, especially when you’re focused on driving, and the menus are also confusingly laid out and not very intuitive. 


All in all, you’re much better off heading straight for the car’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto systems. They mirror your smartphone’s display – for things like sat-nav and music playback – using your phone’s more intuitive menus and voice activation system. 


F Sport models get a revised instrument binnacle with an analogue rev counter that moves electrically to reveal a digital display hidden behind. 


For a proper infotainment upgrade, though, you’ll need the Takumi model that has a 10.3-inch central display (optional on F Sport cars) and built-in sat-nav, although the graphics are no clearer than the standard system’s. As well as the larger screen, Takumi cars also add a head-up display that can project important information – such as speed and sat-nav directions – onto the car’s windscreen. 


As well as upgrading the infotainment system, Takumi cars also swap the standard car’s decent six-speaker stereo for a Mark Levinson system. It has 13 speakers and sound quality that even the stereos fitted to luxury cars – such as the Mercedes S-Class – struggle to better.


Space and practicality: Lexus UX boot space

Adults aren’t going to feel short of space upfront in the Lexus and both you and your front-seat passenger’s seat has height adjustment. 


The electrical adjustment on F Sport models makes it less of an effort to get the seat just how you want it, and it also comes with robust lumbar support, heated seats and a heated steering wheel. Takumi models go a step further by adding ventilated front seats that send a cooling breeze up your legs and back on sticky summer days.


Unfortunately, you don’t get that luxury in the back. Anyone above average height will feel their knees pressing hard on the seats in front and there’s not a lot of foot room either. Okay, so headroom’s okay, but the small windows make the back seat feel dark and dingy. On a positive note, you do at least get a rear centre armrest with two cup holders.


And you’ll want to use it because the Lexus isn’t great with three people in the back. It feels plain crushed and your mates in the outer seats will find their heads being pressed up against the roof. 


The limited space also makes its presence felt when you fit a child seat. The small rear doors don’t open that wide, hampering access and manoeuvring the chair into position is tricky with such limited room behind the front seat. On the upside, the Isofix points are marked behind removable plastic covers. 


What’s not so good is the Lexus’ tiny boot – at 320 litres, it’s nearly 20% smaller than you get in a Volkswagen Golf and miles off the 530 litres you get in a comparable SUV such as the Audi Q3.


There’s worse to come when you see the boot’s shape, though. 


It’s very shallow so you can forget about sticking your labrador in there and, although there’s no boot lip, the boot itself sits very high which makes loading heavy luggage a pain. Sure, you get storage areas under the floor (except in four-wheel-drive models, where space is taken up by an electric motor) but, with no spare wheel, that’s not a surprise.


Handling and ride quality: What is the Lexus UX like to drive?

"In town, the Lexus will happily bumble about using electricity alone. It’s almost silent and will happily take the UX up to 30mph. It's not a plug-in hybrid so the electric-only range is negligible but when the petrol motor does cut in, more often than not it’s only acting as a generator and barely ticking over. It’s only when you need a sharp burst of acceleration that the petrol engine will make itself noticed."

Lexus UX Review 2022: rear dynamic

It’s not just the engine that makes the UX an excellent town car. It’s got an automatic gearbox as standard so you don’t need to worry about the clutch pedal, you’ll not get knackered twiddling the light steering and the UX’s raised suspension and meaty tyres means you don’t need to worry about damaging the car on speed humps and potholes.


Okay, so the rearward visibility isn’t great, but reverse parking is helped by the standard rear-view camera and if you go for the Driver Assistance Pack you get front and rear parking sensors, while top-of-the-range Takumi models have a 360-degree camera. 


Out of town, the Lexus starts to feel like it’s less in its comfort zone. It’s not great at absorbing bumps at slower speeds and on the motorway, it fidgets over expansion joints and surface changes. Large bumps, meanwhile, can feel quite sharp, especially in F Sport and Takumi cars which are fitted with larger 18-inch wheels. 


The engine noise under acceleration is worse, though. Instead of going through the gears as the engine’s tone rises and falls like a normal auto, the Lexus CVT essentially has one gear that gets larger and smaller as required, with the engine holding a constant speed. All of which means that, under prolonged acceleration, the Lexus emits a steady engine note that quickly becomes an annoying drone.


On country roads, this also means there’s not much fun to be had working the UX’s gearbox. Which is fine because the light steering and significant body roll mean you’re unlikely to be going some in corners anyway. 


Even with the optional Adaptive Variable Suspension fitted to F Sport models – which allows you to stiffen the car’s dampers from more control – the Lexus doesn’t get close to being as fun to drive as a BMW X1.


And what of the four-wheel-drive system? Well, it’ll give you extra grip on slippery roads, but doesn’t turn the low-slung UX into an off-road hero and its max tow weight of 750kgs is less than half a Range Rover Evoque can manage. 


What engines and gearboxes are available in the Lexus UX?

Despite the 250h badge, the UX uses the same 2.0-litre self-charging system as found in the Toyota Corolla and not the 2.5-litre from the RAV4. Not that it's any poorer for using the smaller engine. We think the 2.0-litre is the better hybrid. 


When it comes to hybrids, Toyota has more experience than any other manufacturer and it shows. The UX is incredibly smooth. You pull away in electric power and the engine kicks in when needed. However, the transition is so polished, you will hardly notice.


There are no problems with performance when the UX is driven in standard hybrid mode. It's never short on power and accelerates with plenty of gusto if required, getting from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds.


Refinement and noise levels

The Lexus UX’s hybrid powertrain’s ability to run on electric power alone makes it very quiet in town but with a soft right foot, it’ll get to 71mph without having to engage the noisier petrol engine, although it’ll only manage it for a few miles.


One oddity is the Active Sound Control fitted to F Sport models and above, which actively amplifies the engine noise using a loudspeaker hidden in the dashboard, it’ll even fake engine noise when you’re in full electric mode. It’s controlled using a dedicated volume button.


Unfortunately, the news isn’t so good in other areas. The Lexus suffers from more wind noise than the Audi Q3 – with noticeable flutter around its wing mirrors – and you’ll hear quite a lot of tyre rumble, too, especially in F Sport and Takumi models that have the larger 18-inch alloy wheels. 


Safety equipment: How safe is the Lexus UX?

The Lexus UX was awarded five stars for safety when it was crash tested under Euro NCAP’s extremely tough 2019 test conditions. 


Even standard UX models come with plenty of safety kit. You get active cruise control that can brake and accelerate the car on the motorway and automatic emergency brakes that can detect cars as well as pedestrians and cyclists. 


To that lot you can add bright-shining, auto-dipping LED headlights, lane-keep assist and road-sign recognition which display roadside information – like the current speed limit – onto the car’s big screen.


Top-of-the-range Takumi models have even more safety kit. They get upgraded LED headlights, swapping the bi-LED lights fitted to the rest of the range for more powerful 3-eye LED headlights that give you a larger field of vision and are also better at cutting through fog. 


On top of that, you get a Blind Spot Monitor system that’ll warn when a car is hidden in your blind spot on the motorway and Rear Cross Traffic alert which will sound a warning before braking the car if you try to pull out in front of traffic from a perpendicular parking space. 


MPG fuel costs: What does a Lexus UX cost to run?

"Capable of more than 50.0mpg, the Lexus UX will be a very affordable SUV to run. Avoid the four-wheel-drive Lexus UX E-Four, though, as that'll see real-world fuel economy drop to mid-40s at best."

Lexus UX Review 2022: front dynamic

The Lexus UX's frugality is most impressive in town where even the most economical diesel SUV's fuel economy will drop like a stone. In the Lexus, though, it stays steady, with the ability to run on electric power alone paying dividends and the stop-start nature of city driving allowing the UX to recoup maximum energy via its regenerative brakes.


It's perhaps not quite as economical at motorway speeds but, during our period with the car, we still saw impressive fuel economy on the trip computer while sitting at an indicated 70mph.

Insurance groups and costs

The Lexus UX insurance groups range from Group 22 for a basic UX model to Group 26 for the top-of-the-range Takumi car. That makes it slightly cheaper than a BMW X1 which occupies Group 25-34 although, in fairness to the BMW, the cars that are at the higher end of the scale are more powerful than the Lexus. 


It’s also interesting to note that the Lexus UX is significantly more expensive to insure than the mechanically-identical Toyota C-HR which sits in Group 14. 


VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Lexus UX?

The hybrid Lexus UX qualifies for a £10/year discount in VED, meaning you'll pay an annual fee of £155. If you're looking for a tax-free SUV, you'll need an all-electric alternative like the Lexus UX 300e.


It's worth bearing in mind that high-spec models with a list price of more than £40,000 will be hit by a premium car tax for the first five years – adding an extra £355 to your tax bill each year. That's based on the car's value when it was new, even if you're not the car's first owner, so don't expect to beat the system by buying a used Lexus UX.

How much should you be paying for a Lexus UX?

"The Lexus UX is priced from around £30,000 for the standard model rising to more than £45,000 for a top-of-the-range Takumi car fitted with the company’s optional four-wheel-drive system. "

Lexus UX Review 2022: boot

Popularity is split almost 50/50 between the standard car and the F Sport model. They’re mechanically identical, but the F Sport adds a sporty body kit and larger alloy wheels that suit the UX’s eye-catching styling.  


The Lexus was only released last year and remains sought after so you won’t see the crazy savings that you will have on more mainstream models. That said, we saw an ex-demonstrator standard UX model with just 500 miles on the clock up for sale for just £26,000, while an F Sport with a slightly higher mileage costs less than £31,000. 


Trim levels and standard equipment

You won’t find a Lexus UX that’s been short-changed when it comes to standard equipment.


The current line-up is made up of UX, Premium Sports Edition, F Sport and Takumi models. Even the base Lexus UX comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch media system (with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), LED headlights that dip automatically and two-zone electronic climate control.


The Lexus UX Premium Sports Edition builds on this with 18-inch alloy wheels, faux-leather interior trim, heated front seats and privacy glass. You also get a reversing camera along with front/rear parking sensors and a Blind Spot Monitor system with Rear Cross Traffic Alaert. The Premium Sports Edition also looks a bit sportier than the standard UX, thanks to its black roof rails, black grille, smoked headlight housing and black door mirrors.


The Lexus UX F Sport takes that a step further, with its bespoke exterior styling pack and firmer F Sport suspension tuning. You also get unique 18-inch F-Sport alloy wheels, F Sport Tahara interior upholstery and eight-way electrically adjustable front seats.


Sitting at the top of the range, the Lexus UX is the poshest model of the lot. It comes with a bigger 10.3-inch navigation display, a brilliant 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound system, a head-up display and genuine leather seats (heated and ventilated in the front).

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Is the Lexus UX a good car?

The Lexus UX is smooth, quick and economical - but it's a bit cramped inside.

Georgia Petrie

Answered by

Georgia Petrie

What does Lexus UX stand for?

Lexus UX stands for urban.... crossover. Spelling is clearly not a Lexus strong point.

heycar editorial team

Answered by

heycar editorial team

Is the Lexus UX all wheel drive?

A four-wheel drive version of the Lexus UX compact crossover is currently available.

Phil Hall

Answered by

Phil Hall

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