Thursday, April 25, 2024
Should-you-buyShould You Buy a 2023 Lexus UX?

Should You Buy a 2023 Lexus UX?

Now hybrid-powered only.

  • The 2023 Lexus starts at $43,705 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Fuel efficient, well-appointed cabin, still affordable.

  • Very tight interior, limited rearward visibility, unexciting powertrain.

The 2023 Lexus UX is the Japanese brand’s most affordable vehicle, and received a host of changes and updates as the fifth model year for the model that was introduced for 2019. Those changes include the discontinuation of the UX 200, meaning the UX crossover is now only offered with a hybrid powertrain.

Indeed, the non-hybrid, naturally aspirated 2.0L inline-four that developed 179 horsepower is gone. While a front-wheel drivetrain is still available in the United States, the Canadian market gets all-wheel drive as standard. The hybrid system is composed of an Atkinson-cycle 2.0L four-cylinder engine, a technique that allows for lower fuel consumption at the expense of a little horsepower compared to the Otto cycle, which is found in the vast majority of gasoline engines today. However, two front-mounted electric motors provide a helping hand, and combined output is rated at 181 horsepower.

On AWD variants, a third motor is installed on the rear axle, although it’s not very powerful and doesn’t change the vehicle’s overall output, but does provide extra traction when needed. The 2023 Lexus UX’s hybrid powertrain won’t trigger any adrenaline rushes, even when the Sport mode is activated, yet serves adequate performance. Let’s just say that the old UX 200 was somewhat livelier.

On the flipside, the Lexus UX’s fuel economy is quite high, with city/highway/combined ratings of 43/41/42 mpg for FWD variants, 41/38/39 mpg for AWD variants in the U.S., and 5.7/6.2/6.0 L/100 in Canada. During our winter test, we observed an average of 30 mpg or 7.8 L/100 km, and two years ago, your truly drove a UX 250h in the summertime, netting an average of 36 mpg or 6.6 L/100 km. In addition, regular fuel can be used instead of premium, which is nice.

For those who like the edgier exterior appearance of Lexus’ F SPORT variants, but don’t necessarily need or want the sportier cabin accoutrements, the 2023 Lexus UX is now available with the F SPORT Design package, which is the one we drove this time around. This more affordable edition includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lamps and cornering lamps as well as the distinctive F SPORT front fascia, but does without the eight-inch digital instrument panel, the F SPORT seats, steering wheel and shift lever. These features are still offered in the U.S.-market F SPORT Handling package, and in the Canadian-market F SPORT 1 and F SPORT 2 packages.

A significant update is the adoption of the new Lexus Interface infotainment system, which ditches the console-mounted touchpad in favour of on-screen controls only. Said 8.0- or 12.3-inch touchscreen, depending on the chosen package, is mounted closer on the dashtop for easier finger poking.

2023 Lexus UX 250h F SPORT Design

In the United States, the 2023 Lexus UX starts at $36,490 including freight and delivery charges, and is available in base, Premium, F Sport Design and F SPORT Handling with either FWD or AWD. In Canada, the UX starts at $43,705 before freight and delivery charges and is offered in base, F SPORT Design, Elegance Special Edition (also new for 2023), F SPORT 1, Luxury and F SPORT 2. Competition includes the Audi Q3, the BMW X1, the Buick Encore GX, the Cadillac XT4, the Fiat 500X, the Jaguar E-PACE, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the MINI Countryman and the Volvo XC40.

Why You Should Buy a 2023 Lexus UX

  • Some like the exterior design, some don’t, but it’s undeniably unique. The squared-off wheel wells and cladding give the vehicle a slightly rugged look, while the long front and rear overhangs take away some of its swagger. The UX looks better with the F SPORT packages in our humble opinion, and the new F SPORT Design is a cost-effective way to obtaining that edgier design.
  • As usual, interior fit and finish is beyond reproach. The choice of materials used here looks and feels rich, while every button and switch has a quality, solid tactility.
  • The Lexus Interface infotainment system is much improved over the previous Remote Touch system, which was intuitive and distracting to use while driving. The new interface doesn’t innovate in any way, but we’ll take the improvement nonetheless.
  • The UX is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class, and by a significant margin at that.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2023 Lexus UX

  • It may be a fuel miser, but the UX is the smallest model in its segment. Front-seat space is limited, rear-seat space is precious, and there’s just no room for teenagers or adults to feel at ease. Even child seats, once installed, will be so close the front seats that the kiddies will keep kicking us in the back while we drive. Getting rid of the touchpad on the console freed up precious space, but instead of offering more storage or more practical cupholders, Lexus designers moved the heated/vented seat and steering wheel buttons from the centre stack to the console.
  • Cargo space is also disappointing. Its volume of 17.1 cubic feet or 486 litres behind the rear seats is a merely adequate, but folding the seatbacks doesn’t yield much more space. Curiously, there’s more storage under the load floor, but the compartment is shallow, so not much can be stored there.
  • With wide rear pillars and a slim rear window, outward visibility isn’t great. The rear wiper is small and wipes on about two-thirds of the window, which barely helps in winter driving conditions.
  • Overall, the UX isn’t thrilling to drive. While that may not be everyone’s main purchase criterion, most rivals are just more engaging and more powerful too. The little Lexus is more about fuel efficiency and a comfortable ride than outright performance and handling.

Final Word

Fuel-efficient, luxurious and enjoying a strong reputation for build quality and reliability, the Lexus UX 250h is a somewhat unique proposition in the subcompact luxury and premium crossover category, thanks in part to its hybrid powertrain. It’s not an exciting vehicle, but treats its occupants well with a nicely executed cabin and honest road manners. However, its versatility is limited by its interior dimensions. Climbing aboard the UX is like putting a glove on. We even wonder why it’s even classified as a “utility” vehicle.


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