If you asked me to name the most unusual vehicle in the Lexus lineup, this would be my pick. The 2021 Lexus UX250h. It’s the smallest SUV in the lineup and while Lexus officially calls it a luxury compact crossover, I’m more apt to dub it a hatchback. It’s designed for city living and will appeal to those looking for both style and fuel efficiency. My test model is the Black Line Special Edition, based on the Premium trim, and limited to 1,000 models for 2021.
The UX250h’s Black Line sporty looks get my thumbs up. The all-new Grecian water hue looks great set against all the black accents which include a black grille surround, blackened headlamps and black side mirrors. The black roof rails and optional crossbars add to its stylish appeal, as do the great-looking 18-inch black wheels framed by body-colored over-fenders. The tail end lighting signature does as well and I’m a fan of the long LED light bar stretching across the back made up of 120 LEDs.
The UX250h Premium features a well-designed cabin with soft-touch materials. This Black Line edition features optional Black NuLuxe-trimmed seats with blue stitching and matching seat belts. The 10-way power, 2 way power lumbar driver’s seat is supportive. The passenger’s seat is 8-way power. I’d love to see the leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel get the Black Line blue stitching, as well. Also on my steering wheel wish list, an audio mute button. Beyond the steering wheel you see the 7-inch mostly digital TFT instrument cluster.
The center stack has an old-school feel to it with real physical climate controls that many people prefer over touch-sensitive ones. The console houses a leather-wrapped gear shift knob and two distinctly Lexus features. One is the Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface with haptic feedback that is as always a bit challenging to use. The other is a palm-style controller you can use to adjust the radio and change the stations.
The 5-passenger UX feels wide and while there is a nice legroom in the front row, it’s not as generous in the back seat. Second row passengers get A/C vents and a drop down armrest with cupholders.
Tech + Audio
The UX250h’s standard 7-inch multimedia display with a backup camera does not include the navigation you get with the upgraded 10.3-inch screen. I also missed out on Lexus’ excellent Dynamic Voice Control. Connectivity includes non-wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, a WiFI hotspot, and four USB ports. The UX250 comes with a basic standard six-speaker sound system.
You’ll get a manual folding 60/40 rear seat split. In the cargo area, the UX250 offers more utility space for 2021. Capacity increases from 17.1 to 21.7 with the standard adjustable rear cargo deckboard, a great use of space. A nice Lexus-logo'd cargo mat looks great as well as a 12-volt and hooks to hang things. An available hands-free foot-activated power rear door opens at a nice speed.
The UX250h could use more power. The 181-horsepower delivered by the Lexus Hybrid Drive system seemed underwhelming for a smaller vehicle with some weight to it and equipped with all-wheel drive. Acceleration never felt quite spirited, especially off the line. The powertrain’s electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) also hung noisily and noticeably for a while at high RPMs.
Ride and Drive
Acceleration aside, the UX 250h (equipped with standard AWD) offers a smooth ride, nice braking and I was impressed with its terrific handling and tighter steering. It handled corners well with zero body roll in the bolstered seats. Drive mode select offers Sport, Normal, Eco modes with Sport Mode my favorite thanks to its quicker throttle response and better power steering feel. My battery was never charged enough to try out EV mode (which can only be used in certain conditions). In terms of cabin noise, the UX250h wasn’t as quiet on the highway as I’m accustomed to in a Lexus, with more road noise than expected.
Premium Package and Options
The Black Line special edition is based on the UX250h Premium model with a moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Installed options listed for this model include wireless charging, intuitive parking assist, power door with rear kick sensor, a heated steering wheel, roof rack cross bars, illuminated door sills, mudguards, a glass breakage sensor, and 2 Lexus Universal tablet holders for the rear seat.
It’s great to see Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert newly standard to the 2021 UX lineup. Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is also standard. It includes Pre-Collision System with Daytime/Low-Light Vehicle and Pedestrian Detection, Daytime Bicyclist Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with All-Speed Range, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beams, Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.
The UX250h looks great as a member of Lexus’ Black Line Special Edition family and surprises with its great handling, but I’d love to see it get more power. I’d also option the larger multimedia display with navigation for $2,200 and add premium triple beam LED adaptive headlights for $1,660.
If you’re looking for something a little larger, check out my review of the 2021 Lexus NX300h F Sport Black Line Edition here.
- What I Liked Most: Its handling and exterior looks.
- What I would change: Needs more horsepower and better acceleration.
- Fuel Economy: 41 city/38 highway/ 39 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 915 miles.
- Weight: 3,605 pounds. (AWD only)
- Spare Tire: Run-Flat Tires.
- Length-Width-Height: 176.97” long/72.44” wide/59.84” high with roof rail.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.6 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Official Color: Siberian Ice.
- 2021 Lexus UX250h Black Line in a few words: A small crossover that melds the Black Line’s sporty style with fuel efficiency.
- Warranty: 5 year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty;
- Final Assembly Location: Miyawaka Fukuoka, Japan.
- Warranty: 4-year, 50,000 mile basic new vehicle warranty; 5-year, 70,000 mile powertrain; 8-year, 100,000-mile hybrid component; 10-year, 150,000 mile battery.
- Manufacturer's website: Lexus