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2021 Lexus UX Road Test and Review

by Chris Teague
October 12, 2021
4 min. Reading Time
2022 Lexus UX 200 ・  Photo by Lexus

2022 Lexus UX 200 ・ Photo by Lexus

The Lexus UX is a subcompact premium crossover with seating for up to five people. It showcases the sharp styling and upscale features that buyers expect from Lexus, and it can be had with a frugal hybrid powertrain or in sporty F Sport guise. The UX’s interior may be limited on both passenger and cargo space, but the crossover offers a surprisingly premium experience with high-end materials, a gorgeous design, and comfortable seating accommodations.

Lexus offers both gas and hybrid powertrains in the 2021 UX. Front-wheel drive is standard for gas models, while the hybrid UX250h comes standard with all-wheel drive. Inside, the UX comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen as standard equipment and higher trims can be upgraded with a 10.3-inch screen. All models get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Lexus UX is now in its third year of production after an initial introduction for the 2019 model year. Lexus made numerous updates to the vehice for 2021, including new cargo options for the UX250h and new standard safety gear for both models. 


Lexus breaks the UX’s model line down by powertrain type, each of which is available in three trims. The gas-powered UX200 and hybrid UX 250h both come in base, F Sport, and Luxury trims. Pricing starts at $34,025 for the base UX200, which includes a $1,025 destination charge. Stepping up to the base-level UX250h pushes the price to $36,225. 

The base models come standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable transmission, front-wheel drive, a 7.0-inch touchscreen folding rear seats, and synthetic leather upholstery. The Luxury trim adds memory seating, a power liftgate, and more. F Sport models get a host of trim-exclusive styling features and sporty interior styling. All UX models come standard with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and Lexus Safety System + 2.0, which includes a pre-collision system, radar cruise control, lane departure alerts, automatic high beams, road sign assist, and lane tracing assist.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus


The standard UX gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Power reaches the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. UX hybrid models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two motor-generators that combine to produce 181 horsepower. All-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission are standard for hybrid models.

Neither powertrain delivers exceptional power or acceleration, but both offer solid fuel economy and refined operation. The gas engine can take upward of 8.5 seconds to push the UX to 60 mph from a standstill and at times it sounds coarse. The hybrid powertrain’s acceleration numbers are roughly the same, though the UX’s ride quality and quiet interior more than make up for the lack in power from either engine choice. 

It’s worth noting that even though the F Sport package makes the UX look like a performance monster, the trim level does not change the crossover’s powertrain or output levels. Larger wheels, racy interior trim, and darkened exterior bodywork all look the part, however, and work well with the UX’s size and shape.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus

Ride Quality

Where the UX falls down on power delivery, it more than recovers with a refined ride and composed handling in most driving scenarios. The crossover’s suspension system handles bumps and broken pavement with ease, and the UX’s steering gives it a remarkably sporty feel, despite its lackluster acceleration. Though small, the crossover’s interior features excellent sound deadening, further helping isolate passengers from imperfections in the road surface.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus


The UX is a premium vehicle, through and through, and Lexus made a point of demonstrating that luxury status in every corner of the crossover’s interior. Even in lower trim levels, where there’s synthetic leather upholstery instead of full leather, the stitching and detail work is top-notch, and materials quality is strong throughout. The UX’s cabin is tight but driver-oriented and offers excellent ergonomics for front-seat passengers. Back-seat passengers will find a significantly smaller and more cramped space. The rear bench is decently padded and supportive, but the UX’s diminutive size and narrow track make for a tight fit for all but children.

The UX does offer decent small-item storage and reasonably sized door pockets to keep gear from rolling around in the cabin. One big downside here is that the cupholders are located close to the dash, which can make large cups and coffee mugs a tight squeeze.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus

Cargo and Interior Space

Behind the rear bench, the gas-powered UX offers 17.16 cubic feet of cargo space. Hybrid versions offer slightly less than that, at 17.1 cubic feet. Compared with its competitors, the UX falls way short. The BMW X1, for example, offers 27.1 cubic feet of space. Beyond the cargo-space limitations, the UX’s load floor is tall, making it difficult to wedge heavy cargo into the rear space. Similarly, larger pets, tall cargo, and awkwardly shaped items will be a difficult squeeze.

Parents will find that the UX’s rear seats offer easy LATCH points, and the crossover’s rear doors make it easy to load kids in and out. The UX’s rear legroom is the real impediment here, as large rear-facing seats and taller kids may end up bumping into the front seats when they’re adjusted properly.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus

Infotainment and Tech

The UX comes standard with a 7.0-inch display that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, HD radio, and SiriusXM satellite radio and has Bluetooth capability, six speakers, and USB ports. Lexus’ infotainment software has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years, but it’s still far from intuitive. The software requires too many taps and inputs to accomplish simple settings changes, which can be distracting when driving. And the use of a touchpad controller further complicates operation. 

The larger 10.3-inch infotainment display offers more screen real estate, but the infuriating input system remains. Optional equipment includes eight speakers, wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display, and more. Even when loaded down with equipment, the UX can’t deliver a user-friendly infotainment experience, and the confusing controls greatly detract from the crossover’s tech experience.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus


The Lexus UX was awarded a Top Safety Pick for 2021 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The rating includes Good scores in all crashworthiness categories, Superior scores for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention, and either Good or Poor scores for the headlights, depending on the trim level. The UX also earned a Good+ score for its LATCH system’s ease of use. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the UX five stars overall, which includes four stars for overall front-crash safety, five stars for side-crash safety, and four stars for rollover resistance. Many SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks receive the same rollover scores, as their higher center of gravity makes them more susceptible to tipping.

Lexus packs every UX with a host of advanced safety equipment. The list includes a rearview camera, lane keep assist, lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings, pedestrian and cyclist detection systems, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic high beams, road sign recognition, and automatic emergency braking. A head-up display, parking sensors, a parking assist system, and adaptive lighting are available.

 Photo by Lexus

Photo by Lexus


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