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No, It’s Not An SUV - This Is A Hatchback

The smallest of the Lexus vehicles marketed as SUVs, the UX still has a lot to offer the right buyer. It’s flexible, convenient, and still offers the level of luxury one would expect from a Lexus.

By J-F Wright

Wed, May 17, 2023 01:07 PM PST

Images by the author.

What’s In A Name?

Well, in my opinion, a lot.

Lexus sticks an “X” on their two-letter names for their SUVs and they stick an “S” in the names for their sedans. The Lexus website sticks to the same idea - essentially you can filter between SUVs and sedans. Yeah, sure, they have two more categories for their current cars - “Hybrid & Electric” and “Performance” - but that’s just the same cars grouped differently.

Now, that doesn’t leave a lot of naming options for cars that kinda don’t really fit into either of those two categories… But here we are, with the Lexus UX… True, there’s an “X” in the name, but I’m definitely not ever going to call it an SUV. I don’t think I would even stretch to calling it a “crossover” (it’s not)… It’s a great little car, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a Sports Utility Vehicle. It’s a hatchback.. kinda.

exterior of a blue 2023 Lexus UX
In my mind this does not qualify as an SUV. Nonetheless a great little hatchback.

Who Is The Lexus UX For?

I can see a few possible buyer scenarios for the UX.

The young single (or young couple) city-dweller.

They’ll enjoy the fact that the Lexus UX is small, easy to park, convenient in tight spaces, comfortable to drive, and has great gas milage.

As a second car for commuting (even for a family)

It would serve well as a second car for the parent that commutes to work (do people still do that?), supplementing a more family-friendly vehicle. Yeah, the kids won’t like the back seat, but if your planning is worth the paper it’s scribbled on, then they shouldn’t be spending much time back there anyway.

Anybody who wants a small(er) car with the ability to fold seats and load ‘er up through the trunk. Since this is essentially a hatchback, you do get all the benefits that come with hatchback life. And there are plenty. It’s really flexible, you get small-car-feeling, but you’re able to load a bunch of stuff by folding the back seats down. It’s a good middle-ground for when you don’t really need a big car, but you sometimes might.

Interior

So, we’ve already agreed that the Lexus UX is not an SUV. As such, we’re not expecting SUV-like space either. With that said, however, you’ll be happy to note that the front seats are not lacking in any way. The style, finess, and luxury of Lexus abound, and even though it is the smallest of the X-labeled Lexuses, there’s still ample space for the driver and passenger.

front interior of a blue Lexus UX with red interior leather
The red interior with black trim does really well in the Lexus UX

The back seat is a bit of a different story. Yeah, it’s not a compact car in its true meaning - the rear seats are definitely real spots for passengers. Kids will be fine, even for longer trips if need be. I know I’m somewhat going against myself and my earlier thoughts on the rear seat, but I want to be fair - there is enough room for three kids to sit in the back seat for over an hour. I tried it with three girls aged 10, 8 , and 6.

However, there’s not much legroom back there for adults - at least not if the driver and front passengers also are (tall) adults. Around the block to grab dinner, probably fine. Road trip in the back seat of a UX, probably not.

rear interior of a 2023 Lexus UX with red leather
Rear seat is rather small, but still comfortable for kids!

The interior design sticks with the level expected from Lexus. In our review vehicle, the very red leather seats are complemented nicely by the black inlays, as well as the remaining black interior. I wouldn’t have expected it, but the red seats actually work well together with the blue exterior color too.

The B-pillar is large, at least larger than what I would deem usual. From my driving position I noted that it pretty much covers my view of the blind spot, making it doubly blind. It’s not visible through the mirrors, and then when I turn my head the car itself is blocking my view. But, fear not, the blind spot warning system works well, and with a little adjusting (both physically and just remembering to tilt one’s head a certain way) you can look around the pillar for extra safety.

Exterior

As noted, the blue color of our test vehicle works really well on the Lexus UX. The signature Lexus monster-sized grille is definitely prominent, as are the protruding rear lights that we currently see on pretty much anything from Toyota and Lexus.

exterior of a blue 2023 Lexus UX
Good looking 2023 Lexus UX 250h

The silhouette of the Lexus UX - as seen from its side - looks a lot like a hatchback… That’s probably because it is a hatchback. Anyhow, the proportional, albeit a tad long, hood gives it a great visual flow. I would have been OK with a more boxy behind, which would have increased the vertical space available for stuff, but the slightly sloping rear is a nice ending to the silhouette.

Power & Handling

The 2023 Lexus UX 250h is not racing-fast by any measure. But, since it’s a hybrid, it does have the added bonus of an extra kick from the electric motor when getting going. You’ve got power from the first touch of the accelerator, even if the combustion engine has been turned off. You’d never really know what form of power was moving you forward had it not been for the, relatively faint, noise that the combustion - gasoline - engine emits. Not that it’s loud, but that’s really the only clue as to what’s making you move forward.

a blue 2023 Lexus UX as seen from behind
Signature Lexus lights, front and back, on the 2023 UX 250h.

The UX 250h doesn’t handle like a racer either. But it’s a hatchback - not a race car (or an SUV, for that matter) - so that’s fine. The handling is still on par with what one would expect from Lexus - smooth but confident. With the UX though, the steering tends to lean towards understeer, rather than the more aggressive oversteer. You don’t need to come around a corner very fast at all to get some noise from the tires, but then again speed is not what corners are for anyway.

Summary

It’s not an SUV, it’s a hatchback - a really nice hatchback! For the buyer looking for a small(er) vehicle with the flexibly inherent to hatchbacks - you can load a lot more than you’d expect, definitely more than in a sedan - but who still wants some of the luxury amenities offered by Lexus, the UX is probably something to check out.

About The Author

J-F Wright's profile picture

J-F Wright

John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.

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