Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Lexus UX250h F Sport

2021 Lexus UX250h F Sportby  Anthony Fongaro  - Photos via Lexus - 10/21/2021 

Hybrids have been quite popular with Japanese brands for over the last decade as they’ve found that the increase in fuel economy is more beneficial than either a conventional engine or a diesel engine. One of the biggest automakers to do this is Toyota and their luxury brand, Lexus. Seriously, look inside a Lexus showroom and tell me how many models have a hybrid variant. I’ll wait. See? Except for Lexus’ two archaic SUVs, their entire line-up has a hybrid variant.

Lexus has also found that they must fill every niche with a hybrid version of their vehicles. One of the largest growing segments, the sub-compact SUV class, has been growing in a rapid rate and Lexus wanted in on that action. They created an SUV called the UX and of course, created the hybrid variant. This is the UX250h, and if you only look at the stats, you’ll see the increase in fuel economy with the trade-off of acceleration. Is this such a bad thing, as these types of SUVs are more at home at low-speed driving in towns, anyways? Well to find out, my daily driver for the week was the 2021 Lexus UX250h F Sport.

2021 Lexus UX250h F Sport

I want to get something out of the way which is that the Lexus UX250h is basically a semi-jacked-up hatchback. I parked it next to my Volkswagen Golf GTI and their dimensions were almost the same. The UX was a little taller, but their wheelbases were pretty much the same. Alright, I got that out of the way, so let’s take a look at the exterior. The UX250h has some of Lexus’ most polarizing styling. It retains Lexus’ huge grill that takes the cake for the “love it or leave it” look. Personally, I like it, but maybe I’m just a sucker for a large grill? Oh, and don’t worry. There are plenty of indications that this is a hybrid, starting with all of the Lexus logos being blue to show that you care about fuel economy.

When you go to the side, you really start to see that “jacked-up hatchback look”. Once again, Lexus literally tells you the 250h is a hybrid because it says “Hybrid” on the rear passenger doors. Since this is the sporty F Sport model, this UX250h has 18” alloys that look quite good with the no-cost Nebula Gray paint. Getting to the rear and…oh dear. This is the part of the UX250h that I really don’t like. For one, the trunk door is way too small. Somehow, the rear end looks like a melted version of its big brother, the NX. Still, even if this is the weak point of the exterior, the bold creases on the sides really make the UX250 stand out.

Opening the door in the interior and things become a bit more complicated. Let’s start with the good. Those F Sport seats and comfortable and are heated. You can get a package to get ventilated seats, but this UX250h didn’t have this package. Upfront, you have a digital dial that can mechanically slide over to the right to show more information. This is one of the best parts of the UX250h since you can have your larger speedo to the right while looking at the power distribution of the hybrid system. I loved trying to get the battery as full as possible and seeing how the power went to either the engine, wheels, or battery pack.

In front of the driver is a regular steering wheel with all the buttons you’d expect for radio, volume, adjusting that digital screen in front, and adaptive cruise control. There are also paddle shifters which are weird since this is a hybrid. I’ll explain later on. Keep moving to the right and…I have some major problems with the UX. This goes right across the board with any Lexus. The infotainment system is crap. It still uses the laptop-style touchpad, and it is infuriating to use, especially with the small infotainment screen. Getting to any of the menus means you must be quite delicate to get to the option that you want. If that wasn’t bad enough, in front of the armrest is a rather ugly set of buttons and switches. These operate the volume, media, and radio, which I almost never used since it is so unintuitive.

2021 Lexus UX250h F Sport

I said before that the UX250h looks like a jacked-up hatchback look. While it is nice it has back seats, they’re almost useless if the person in front is more than 6” tall. It’s absolutely cramped back there. Also, because of the small tailgate, the loading area felt more in line with a traditional hatch instead of an SUV. Thankfully, that tailgate is power-operated and uses a kick-open and close feature where you kick under the tailgate to operate it. It worked every time I used it! That was quite surprising since these systems can be finicky.

This may be an F Sport model with extra aggressive-looking bits and pieces, but this is still a hybrid. The UX250h uses a 2.0-liter inline-four and a couple of electric motors to produce 181-horsepower and 133 lb-ft. Since this is a hybrid, it’s obvious this has a CVT. Combine all of this with standard all-wheel drive, and the UX250h makes a very noisy run to 60 MPH in 8.6 seconds. That’s slow, but something is amiss with this vehicle. I never really wanted more power. Off-the-line acceleration is good and only after 50 MPH can you see this thing drop in puff. 

If you look in front of the driver, you’ll see two stalks pointing out that control the adjustable drive modes as well as turning off traction control. These modes are Eco, Normal, and Sport. Eco and Normal both have the eco-friendly dial that shows how your battery is doing, while Sport gives you a digital tachometer. I used all three driving modes and came to the conclusion that Normal was really the sweet spot if you had to accelerate hard. Most of the time, I just kept in in Eco and only used Sport for more of an experiment. Lexus decided to give the UX250h “sound enhancement” for the engine. This means that in Sport mode, you get this crazy almost V10 sound coming from the speakers, even when the CVT “shifts gears”. It was so weird I never used it.

Otherwise, the UX250h is quite comfortable. It does exactly what you’d expect from a hybrid. It drives along, saving you fuel economy, and making you angry you basically have to use the steering wheel to utilize the terrible navigation system. Mine didn’t include the larger infotainment system and my experience suffered even more. Other than that, the UX took corners better than I thought and wasn’t really loud when driving, apart from the fake sound you can have piped in. Sure, in hard acceleration you can hear the whine of the engine but that’s only for a few seconds.

2021 Lexus UX250h F Sport

So, should you investigate the UX250h? I did get 35 MPG which is a big positive for the hybrid. My main complaints are once again that interior. Yes, the seats are supportive, and everything inside feels semi-premium, but that infotainment system. It just drove me nuts. So much so that at first, I didn’t want to recommend the UX250h. However, when I talked to Lexus owners, they said that it took some getting used to but was intuitive once they were acclimated. While I don’t like having to get acclimated with an infotainment system, it doesn’t seem like Lexus owners really care about that, and the $41,000 price tag isn’t too high for its class and the features it has.

I’d end this by saying: the UX250h is quirky. The styling can be off-putting, but it’s very bold and probably the most controversial Lexus. It does return some stellar fuel economy and the seats are so comfortable. At the end of the day, I figured out who this is for. In town, the Lexus is ace until you have to navigate somewhere. Just plug in your phone and it should be ok. For someone looking to stand out while not having to use too much fuel, the UX250h is for you. Otherwise, just go buy a hatchback. They may be lower but are more fun to drive. Until then, the Lexus UX250h F-Sport is a decent SUV. There are much better SUVs in this segment, but they don’t get the fuel economy nor have such crazy looks.

Some Nerdalicious Stats


2.0-liter hybrid inline 4

Power: 181-horsepower

Torque:  133 lb-ft

0-60 MPH

8.6 seconds

What, a slow hybrid!?

Top Speed

112 MPH

Does a hybrid have to go faster?



Hate CVTs but it works in this.


Around $41,000

Not terrible.



It probably helps. Probably.

Did I like it?

Eh. Hate the infotainment system but good fuel economy.