The true test of an SUV these days isn't how it performs off the beaten track, but rather how closely it performs to an equivalent passenger car during the daily grind.
For smaller models like our Lexus UX250h F Sport long-termer, peak-hour commutes and school runs will likely make up 99 per cent of its life, so you'd hope it'd be up to the task.
Thankfully, we've been very impressed with the hybrid UX, which has proven to be a capable urban commuter, while also being supremely efficient.
One of the UX's key points of difference compared to its fellow premium compact SUVs is the availability of a hybrid drivetrain, which is perfectly suited to city driving.
The Lexus UX250h pairs a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine running the more efficient Atkinson cycle with an 80kW/202Nm electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery pack.
Drive in our tester is channeled exclusively to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), though 'e-four' all-wheel drive is available as an option on F Sport and Sports Luxury grades.
While the UX won't blow your socks off with its straight-line acceleration, the hybrid crossover gets off the line and up to city speeds just fine. You'll find it tends to set off in all-electric 'EV Mode', firing up the petrol motor as required – which is generally once you pass 15–20km/h.
Unlike most plug-in hybrids with their more powerful electric motors and larger batteries, the UX's series hybrid set-up isn't able to drive on electric-only power for up to 50km, rather shuffling between power sources to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Anywhere between 40 and 80km/h, the UX will coast in EV Mode once you let off the throttle, or at a minimum cut the petrol engine as you slow towards a red light.
Like the rest of Lexus's and Toyota's latest hybrid products, the transition between electric and petrol power, and vice versa, is pretty much seamless – meaning there's no loud clunking between power sources or pauses in acceleration. The cabin is well insulated from engine noise when the petrol motor is fired up, and is whisper quiet while putting around on solely electric power.
In general, the UX is relatively quiet on the move regardless of which power source it's drawing from, though there can be a bit of perceived tyre roar over coarse-chip surfaces – though it's still at the pointy end of its segment in this regard.
The Lexus rides and handles beautifully around town, too, despite riding on larger 18-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/50 run-flat tyres all round – we reckon the run-flat tyres contribute to the road noise over rough roads, too.
Little Forest soaks up the lumps and bumps of Melbourne's inner-city roads with little fuss, while the light yet direct steering and eager chassis mean navigating tight streets, car parks and traffic is easy work, fun even!
Having adaptive dampers in the F Sport variant certainly helps with all-round comfort, with its 'Normal' setting best suited to everyday commuting.
It's worth noting we spent a week or so with an entry-level UX250h Luxury while our green meanie had its centre tail-light strip swapped out as it collected a bit of condensation, which seems to be an isolated incident.
Compared to the F Sport, the base Luxury with its chubbier non-run-flat tyres and smaller wheels was a little more cushy over road imperfections, while also being a little better with suppressing road noise on the freeway. Something worth noting if you value comfort and refinement above all else.
Fuel use for most vehicles falls down in town thanks to all the stopping and starting, but this is where hybrids in general excel. The front-driven UX250h officially claims a combined figure of 4.5L/100km, while urban driving should return a claimed 4.6L/100km – which is madness quite frankly.
We haven't achieved that good of a figure, though the trip computer is currently sitting in the mid-to-high fives – still very impressive in anyone's book.
You can easily get 550–600km per fill out of the UX's 43L tank even if you solely drive in town, and considering it's happy running on regular 91RON unleaded, it's really cheap to fill, too.
All told, the Lexus UX really does live up to the 'Urban Crossover' label. It's comfortable, quiet, fun to punt around town, and supremely efficient.
2019 Lexus UX250h F Sport
- Odometer: 7887km
- Distance travelled since last update: 631km
- Fuel consumption (indicated): 5.8L/100km