Lexus has only just begun tiptoeing into fully electric vehicles, but among premium brands it’s been the king of gas-electric hybrids since it introduced the RX hybrid in 2005. Hybrid technology from parent company Toyota has helped the luxury automaker create a portfolio of fuel-sipping crossovers as buyers shifted away from sedans, and now the 2023 Lexus UX will become its first hybrid-only SUV.
High-end buyers are clamoring for more EVs, but beyond the upcoming RZ450e, a broader lineup of Lexus electrics is still a few years away. In the meantime, a wide range of hybrids is there to satisfy you. Last fall saw the launch of an all-new NX with hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options, and the new 2023 RX offers a similar expanded lineup. Now it’s the turn of UX.
The brand’s smallest crossover, the old UX will now be called UXh and will for the first time be available in front or AWD versions. The automaker is also adding enhancements to F Sport trims, going beyond cosmetics to make the UXh drive, not just look, the part of a sports grocer.
The 2022 UX Hybrid AWD 250h returns 41 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway, numbers that are second only to the Kia Niro among all non-electric SUVs on the market. Lexus officials say they expect the front-drive 2023 UXh to do a bit better than that. Call it a half step towards electrification. And that’s not a bad one, as the existing UX hybrid was by far the most desirable model in the lineup.
Looks sportier, and actually sportier Feeling
Arguably the way to get your UXh is with at least the F Sport Design package. That’s because in addition to the darkened wheels, wheel arches, and blacked-out roof rails, Lexus also blacked out the roof on both F Sport versions of the UXh, and the car looks a little smoother. seemingly two-tone.
Whether or not you like the crinkle metal of Lexus’ current design philosophy along with the hourglass grille is a very polarizing question, but the UXh looks faster in the F Sport livery.
Interior dimensions remain unchanged, so they’re a bit cramped in the second row, but drivers will appreciate the addition of what Lexus calls its high-resolution touchscreen Multimedia Interface. Gone is the frustrating touchpad of yesteryear, as the automaker has overhauled the cockpit to accommodate standard 8.0-inch or optional 12.3-inch touchscreens, both of which benefit from sharper resolution and anti-reflective technology. The revised center console also offers more space for wirelessly charging a phone and two additional USB ports.
Although not a visual feature, you can see that smart speakers are influencing Lexus, since the UX is getting its own “assistant” voice technology, so you can say something like “Hey Lexus to coax the UX’s Lexus Interface Assistant to ask for navigation advice, to change radio stations or lower the cabin temperature.
F Sport Drive Package
While the hybrid’s name has changed from UX 250h to UXh, Lexus is pushing ahead with the same 2.0-liter inline-four and 169-hp electric motor for a combined (and modest) output of 181 horsepower. But they have made updates to the chassis of all UXh models, adding 20 welds in five key areas of the body: at the strut mounts, at the bulkhead, behind the rear seats and at the where the rear struts meet inside the hatch.
Lexus says the aim was to add structural rigidity, which allowed for better steering response from the UXh, but also, along with a stiffer chassis, allowed engineers to create the F Sport Handling package. , which adds multiple drive modes and variable dampers to tighten the role of the body. .
Because Lexus also wanted to deliver a more refined ride, spokespeople say Lexus’ Active Variable Suspension also smooths the road in all conditions, eliminating the sharpness of small and large dips and dips. The UX has always been closer to a large sedan than an SUV, so imbuing it with a luxury drive is a clear priority.
The F Sport Handling versions also get a bit of bling to go with the increased function. You’ll notice an aluminum driver’s footrest and skid plate, exclusive F Sport seats, aluminum steering wheel, shift knob, gauges and pedals. Buy F Sport Handling and the cabin gets a little sharper too, with sportier front seats that have a memory function as well as heating and ventilation.
Lexus knows safety sells. So the next UX will get what the automaker calls Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 to keep you out of harm’s way. The automaker is touting a combination of radar and front-facing camera recalibrations that are now better able to detect hazards ahead, including pedestrians and cyclists in your UX’s path in brighter conditions as well as hazards posed by d other cars that may be turning towards you, or that you may not see while you are turning.
Lexus says the system that keeps the UX in its lane during highway driving now uses artificial intelligence to help the car wander less in lane lines, and also takes steering into account around a curve. to more naturally reduce speed to what the UXh can handle and accelerate after the road unfolds in front of you.
Safety System+ 2.5 also increases steering mojo if it detects you are engaged in an emergency maneuver. Fortunately, all this equipment is standard, unlike the BMW X1 or the Mercedes-Benz GLA, where the nicer systems (road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control) cost more.
The 2023 Lexus UXh will go on sale towards the end of the summer. Company officials have yet to release pricing, but said they don’t expect a substantial increase from the Hybrid 250h’s current price of $35,750, although naturally the F models Sport and AWD versions will cost more than the base front-wheel drive UXh.
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