Fun and Fuel Efficient: The 2020 Lexus ux 250h F Sport

Let’s start by decoding the Lexus naming conventions. Generally speaking, the number refers to the engine size, so a 300 is a 3.0 liter engine, for example. That means that this 2020 Lexus UX 250h F Sport should have a 2.5L engine, right? Nope. Because it’s a hybrid – the meaning of the ‘h’ suffix – it’s powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine instead. UX stands for “urban explorer” and marks Lexus moving into crossover luxury vehicles. Finally, the “F” in “F Sport” stands for “flagship” and is a performance accessory package, but I prefer the alternative definition that the F actually comes from Fuji Speedway, the chief test site of Lexus performance vehicle development in Oyama, Japan. Either way, this is one sweet little car:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - exterior

The striking blue is Ultrasonic Blue Mica and it’s just as eye catching in person. it’s a lovely color. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, car companies are getting better with rich, deep paint colors and while they often have a surcharge, the blues, greens, reds and whites available nowadays are much more beautiful than even a decade ago. Choosing Ultrasonic Blue Mica adds $595.00 to the price of this vehicle.

While this is ostensibly a four seater – or even a five seater, according to the seatbelt deployment – it’s pretty cosy inside and I would categorize it as a 2-seater sporty car with back seats for insurance purposes. 🙂

I’m tall – 6’3″ – and when I had the driver’s seat adjusted to be comfortable, there really was alarmingly little legroom behind me:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - back seat legroom

If your family isn’t quite as tall, you might be able to get your kids into the back seat, but this is going to be a better car for a small family than one where all five of those seatbelts are utilized. There are also relatively few digital amenities for rear seat passengers, unlike some of the luxury SUV’s I’ve written about in the past.

But all of that is because the Lexus UX 250h F Sport is all about the driver and the driver’s experience. Here’s the cockpit layout:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - drivers seat cockpit layout

Cozy and easy to work with, there are controls for just about everything and even paddle shifters hiding behind the steering wheel if you want a bit more oomph with your driving. Of note is that Lexus made an interesting decision with its entertainment system by opting not to include a GPS and mapping solution. The company correctly assumes that 99.9% of its owners already have smartphones and so utilize the Entune system along with CarPlay and Android Auto for mapping and directions. That’s why in the photo above you can see on the display screen the right side is “please pair with Entune” instead of an actual map.

I also love that Lexus includes an analog clock display, a throwback to the golden years of big, fancy automobiles. There’s also a digital display but for those of us who still remember how to tell time on an analog device, it’s fun. In fact, that’s a theme that’s consistent throughout the entire 250h experience: It’s really fun to drive. In fact, what I most appreciated was that I drove it pretty aggressively with fast starts and acceleration and still managed to get an impressive 39.8 mpg:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - main gauge

Lexus plays a bit of a user interface trick on drivers too, because while it appears that the above is a fixed display, a single press on the info button on the steering wheel slides the outer wheel circle to a side so the left portion of the screen can display additional information. Like G-force!

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - g force display

I defy anyone to have a display like that and NOT take a few tight, fast, hard turns just to see what will happen! I am not going to comment on my max G-Force displayed, however.

The user interface has another area that’s surprising and unusual too; the controls on the center armrest area:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - center armrest controls

After a week, I’m still not sure I like the trackpad interface, actually. It’s sensitive and driving is inherently a bit of a bumpy experience, so I found myself incorrectly selecting based on incorrectly pushing down too hard. By contrast, however, the audio controls wrapped around the armrest itself were really slick once you understood the design. In particular it’s really easy to adjust volume without taking your eyes off the road. Different, but interesting.

There’s more in the driver controls design that was unusual too. Consider this environmental control switch panel, somewhat reminiscent of a Boeing 747 or perhaps a SpaceX Mars lander:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - environmental controls

Notice also the wireless Qi charging pad on the bottom level and the pop-up 12V accessory plug if needed. And a CD player. Quaint. I haven’t listened to a CD for years…

One more interesting design choice; the knob on the top of the driver’s gauge bump to pick driving mode:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - drive mode selector

Definitely a unique user interface and driving experience, it’ll have you reading the manual when you first get the Lexus ux 250h F Sport to make sure you can find – and understand – all the various controls.

For fun, we popped the bonnet, uh, hood, to see what was underneath. That’s one clean engine!

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - under the hood engine

I remember in high school working on cars with my buddies, but one glance at this snarl and it’s clear you either have to be very dedicated or you’re just going to rely on your Lexus mechanic to do everything. The good news is that cars are so well designed and engineered nowadays that you probably won’t ever need to touch your engine for even routine maintenance.

While the driving experience was fun – it’s peppy and tight on corners and acceleration! – there’s enough space that it can work for a smaller family or a couple with gear. In fact, the back has a surprising amount of storage space:

2020 lexus ux 250h f sport - trunk space

Overall, there’s quite a bit to like about the sporty and startlingly fuel efficient 2020 Lexus UX 250h F Sport. It’s a fun drive, quite comfortable, has space for a couple of passengers (unless you’re tall or they are) and plenty of cargo space for skis, backpacks, luggage, a tent or whatever else fills up your own vehicle. Definitely one to take on a test drive.

2020 Lexus UX 250h F Sport in Ultrasonic Blue Mica. 2.0L 4-cylinder hybrid engine with a continuously variable transmission and the full Lexus Safety System including automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, pre-collision systems and more. MSRP: $36,350.00. AS DRIVEN: $42,890.00.

Disclosure: Lexus loaned me the UX 250h for a week to drive in return for this writeup. Thanks, Lexus!

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