The 2023 Lexus UX prioritizes sharp styling and good fuel economy over a truly engaging driving experience. The UX is a small crossover SUV that competes against the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. Its acceleration is leisurely and the touchpad interface for its infotainment system can prove distracting, but fuel economy, style, and safety are all worthwhile assets. Lexus adds a new next generation touchscreen infotainment system, structural enhancements for a quieter ride, and the UX lineup goes all hybrid for 2023.
The 2023 Lexus UX brings crisp styling to the masses. We don’t mind its lines. The UX is solidly in the modern Lexus camp with its angular styling and squat profile. It’s more interesting than some of its bland rivals like the Mercedes GLA. A version of the Lexus hourglass grille gives the UX a familiar look. Don’t seek out a soft curve or line anywhere, beginning with the sharp LED headlights and working back to the creased flanks. At the rear, the hatchback-like body comes to an abrupt halt, with red-finned taillights connected by a narrow strip.
The 2023 Lexus UX was not born to thrill. The UX 250h comes standard with FWD but offers optional AWD and a second electric motor that powers the rear wheels to provide excellent wintry weather traction. The UX provides just adequate acceleration using a 4-cylinder teamed to two electric motors and a big battery pack for a net output of 181 hp. The hybrid only sips at a rate of just 43/41/42 mpg for front-wheel-drive models and 41/38/39 mpg for all-wheel-drive models, both using regular unleaded gasoline.
A unique transmission with a fixed first gear teamed to a planetary-torque gearbox attempts to imitate a conventional automatic transmission, though for the most part the setup fades to the background. The same can be said for the UX’s handling. Its steering is reasonable, and its ride quality is comfortable, though F Sports with their upsized wheels handle minutely better.
It may be small, but the Lexus UX packs a lot of safety features backed up by good crash test scores. The 2023 Lexus UX has done well in crash tests. The IIHS rates it a Top Safety Pick, while the NHTSA scored it at five stars overall. Every UX leaves the factory with a host of crash-avoidance features that tend to be optional on rivals, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control.
The UX is more conventional inside with a dash that angles slightly toward the driver. Up top, the infotainment screen nestles in the dash, and the gauges are flanked by some less-used ancillary controls. Switches on the center stack and a traditional gear lever stand in comfortable contrast to capacitive buttons and knobs that have made their way into other cabins.
The 2023 Lexus UX makes good use of its allotted space. The smallest Lexus crossover isn’t especially utilitarian, but what’s there is organized well and has a quality feel. Both its front seats and cargo area have decent cargo space. Lexus drapes the UX in synthetic leather regardless of option package. The front seats are nicely shaped with good power adjustment, but we wouldn’t spend for the grabbier (and head room-stealing) F Sport thrones.
With just 33.1 inches of rear-seat room, the UX is not a great choice for families, though what’s there is better utilized than in some competitors. Narrow rear doors make climbing aboard a bit tricky, though we do like the fold-down armrest and rear-seat USB ports. Behind the rear seats, the UX offers around 17 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than a like-size sedan. Cross rails can be attached to the roof, too.
The 2023 Lexus UX comes reasonably well-equipped for about $36,000 with synthetic leather trim, power seats, active safety tech, and a new infotainment system that packs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is finally now a touchscreen. The screen comes in a standard 8-inch size, but a 12.3-inch version is available on higher trim levels. Lexus arms the UX with a standard 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and two free maintenance trips.
The F Sport package runs about $2,000 above that for zippier styling and bolstered seats, but we’d skip that version. The Luxury package costs $5,000 more and adds niceties such as a power tailgate with a kick sensor and a 10.3-inch display with navigation. Add LED headlights, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, and a few other minor bits to a UX 250h Luxury with all-wheel drive and Lexus will present you with a bill for just shy of $45,000.
For those looking for a luxury urban crossover to tame the urban jungle, the 2023 Lexus UX is an admirable choice. It drives like a proper Lexus, keeping the outside world at bay, is easy on the eyes and senses with its avant-garde styling, all while delivering a fuel saving safe and reliable ride. The new hybrid only powertrain for 2023 definitely moves the needle. In the end the UX is a true Lexus and deserves a look.