The 2021 Lexus UX Hybrid Has Problems, but Its MPG Will Shock You

What’s New for 2023?

Lexus has dropped the nonhybrid UX200 models from the lineup for 2023, making the hybrid powertrain standard. A front-wheel-drive version of the hybrid is new. Lexus says it has made changes to the UX’s chassis and suspension to improve both handling and ride quality. We’ll be able to confirm that only after we’ve driven this latest model. A new F Sport Handling package is available on the F Sport model that includes adaptive dampers. Lexus has also installed its more modern Lexus Interface touchscreen infotainment system, which offers an integrated voice assistant, over-the-air update capabilities, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An 8.0-inch display is standard but the system looks best on the larger, optional 12.3-inch screen. The infotainment display has been relocated so it’s within reach for the driver and front passenger, and the company’s annoying touchpad controller has been eliminated.


Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Every model is also equipped with standard driver-assistance technology via Lexus’s Safety System+ 2.5 suite of features. That includes automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and an adaptive cruise control system with lane-centering. For more information about the UX’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:

  • Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Standard adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature

How big is the UX?

The Lexus UX is among the smallest of the smallest SUV segment. Although its overall length is actually greater than rivals like the BMW X2 and Volvo XC40, its wheelbase and interior dimensions trail them greatly. It is considerably shorter in height than most competitors as well. Basically, the UX is a compact hatchback with a slight ground clearance increase – well, in theory, as Lexus hasn’t published an official number.

You’re going to notice the UX’s pinchy dimensions in the back seat. Taller drivers will need to slide their seat forward in order for anyone to sit behind them, while the sloping roofline means heads will bump – or at least be closer to the roof than they might be in rival crossovers. Those up front may also notice that the optional sunroof cuts over an inch and a half of headroom.

Cargo space is also limited. Lexus says the UX 200 has 21.7 cubic feet of space behind its back seat, which would be the same as the BMW X2. However, in our real-world testing (see video below), the UX didn’t come close to the X2‘s luggage-carrying potential. The UX 250h has even less capacity due to a higher load floor. When we re-did the luggage test, the hybrid was incapable of fitting one of the midsize, check-in suitcases that the UX 200 could.

Lexus hasn’t published a maximum cargo capacity number for the UX 200, but says the UX 250h offers 40.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That’s on the small side of what you’d expect to get in a compact hatchback. The UX also has a notably high lift-over height.

A Closer Look at Lexus UX Hybrid Performance

If you check out the Lexus UX Hybrid reviews, there’s a clear commonality between them (aside from the fantastic fuel economy). Almost all of the Lexus UX Hybrid reviews make a point to highlight its premium performance on roads and freeways near Livermore. For starters, the standard all-wheel drive system will be a high point for many Bay Area commuters, as it gives more confidence on wet roads and provides better traction when you’re exploring paths less traveled.

The UX Hybrid combines a 2.0L in-line 4-cylinder engine with the Lexus Hybrid Drive system, which uses a high-output, permanent-magnetic, electric-drive motor. This powertrain achieves 181 hp for a seriously fun commute-that’s actually more horsepower than the standard gas-powered Lexus UX achieves!

What are the UX safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Beyond the usual airbag and stability aides, every UX comes standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert and Lexus Safety Connect emergency services. A parking assist system with rear cross-traffic braking is optional.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the UX a Top Safety Pick for its best-possible performance in all crash tests plus a rating of “Superior” for its forward collision prevention system. It also gets a Good+ rating for LATCH child seat anchor ease of use. Its optional upgrade headlights net a “Good” rating, but its “Poor”-rated standard headlights keep it from achieving the best-possible IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the UX a five-star overall rating, the highest available, though only four stars for frontal crash protection.