When Lexus of Seattle asked if I needed a loaner while the Paseo was being serviced, my decline was on my lips and ready for implementation. You see, this dealer only offers loaners in the form of the RX and NX, which I’ve already driven. But silently a few feet behind me, this UX 250h crept forward. “Got a UX?”

I was quite curious about this, because this is a car I want to like, but can’t. In addition, I’ve actually never driven a hybrid before. This is what happens when your nicest car has a tape deck: you don’t get out much. Based on all the reviews I’ve watched and whatnot, I somehow I entered the vehicle with some hope, because the NX I drove last year was soooo sosososososo uninspiring. The bar was low.

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A E S T H E T I C S

unflattering lighting! Rear door beltline is very previous gen Mazda3
connected tail lights are IN!

This car would look decent if we could remove the cladding and smooth out some of these hard creases. I find the tail lights to be the least outrageous thing about the design. They did a good job of making it look small, especially when you park it next to an NX. I still think this an improvement over the NX, which is a biggish vehicle that is super tiny inside.

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Speaking of space...

INTERIOR AND FEATURES

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Quality of materials is... good. The armrest is properly padded, seats are quite comfortable, buttons all feel nice, and so forth. Much less hard crappy plastic that the NX. But still some corner cutting as you’d expect: the glovebox, center console hinges, and lower door panels are all sloppy hard plastic.

The shifter has a good position (far away from where your hand rests), and feel solid when in use. No, I did not use the sport mode. This is a CVT hybrid with 181 horsepower.

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These physical radio buttons were great. I hated going into the infotainment system to seek and tune on the NX. These controls on the UX are exactly where your hand wants to rest. You learn it in a matter of seconds. Big improvement. Yuge, even.

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I still hate that touchpad controls, but this being the third Lexus model I’ve driven with it, I am begrudgingly used to it. It’s like when your phone has a system update that RUINS THINGS FOREVER! — And then two days later you don’t even notice.

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This particular UX was moderately loaded, as far as loaners go. BSM, forward collision warning, adaptive something or rather, and a bunch of other stuff my primitive brain cannot comprehend. The blank buttons you see above would likely be filled if this was the fully-loaded “Luxury” or F-sport trims. I have no idea.

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Here’s something I found surprising: I’m 5'11" and fit in the backseat quite comfortably. When I watched reviews for this, or other cars like the Stinger or A5 where the backseat was a concern, everyone seemed to be playing this up as some kind of detention center. You could fit 3 scrawny bastards back here quite easily. This car is wider than it looks inside.

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Zero thrills for the backseat folks, though. I found two cupholders in the fold-down armrest and nothing else.

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Here’s the weakness of the UX as an alleged useful vehicle: there is no cargo space at all! I assume this is because there are batteries back there that raises the deck height or something, and needing to make room should someone opt for the AWD version. It’s rated as 1 cubic foot more than a Paseo wagon, but good luck loading anything of substance in there not shaped like a small pyramid.

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THE DRIVE

I drove this as fast as I could, whenever I could. Any corner or green light, I dropped that lead foot. My findings? Much faster than the NX200t. Transmission knew what to do and did not whir in vain and bog down. Zero to 40 was *snaps fingers* like that. Much less body roll than the NX as well. Visibility was not too shabby. This is a car with some cladding, after all — thus it rides like a proper car and not some floating crossover.

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WOULD YOU BUY ONE?

Hummmmmmm let’s see...

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I’m afraid I will not be spending $34,000 on any car, including this one. Now if I had a company car or allowance? There are certainly worse ways to travel.

SUMMATION

The Lexus UX 250h isn’t as bad as you may think, is a sizable improvement over the NX200t, and should have been sold and packaged as a car, not a small crossover.

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Thanks for reading.

[EDIT:]

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Dang.... looks like I should stick to posting sunsets.