The time has come for us to bid farewell to 'Forest' the Lexus UX250h F Sport, after several months on the CarAdvice long-term test fleet.
During our time with Forest, we covered more than 4800km over a range of roads, weather conditions, and with many different passengers.
Let's recap what we're looking at here, then.
The front-driven UX250h F Sport you see here starts at $56,950 plus on-road costs. Our tester features the eye-catching 'Khaki Metal' metallic paint ($1500), and Enhancement Pack 1 ($2500) which brings a powered tilt/slide moonroof.
All up, the as-tested price for the vehicle you see here is $60,950 before on-road costs, which may sound like a lot for a little SUV, but it's par for the premium small SUV segment when you compare the Lexus to its rivals – especially when you factor in the level of standard equipment.
Highlights in the F Sport include 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Dunlop run-flat tyres, sportier bumpers, sports front seats trimmed in real leather with heating and ventilation, a unique steering wheel, metal pedals, an 8.0-inch multifunction driver's display with G-force monitor, wireless phone charger, adaptive suspension, Active Sound Control, adaptive high-beam, a powered tailgate, alloy scuff plates, privacy glass, cornering lights, and headlight washers.
That's on top of the kit standard on the base Luxury grade, which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, all-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, speed sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, eight airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, 10-way driver and eight-way passenger electric seat adjustment, a 10.3-inch infotainment display with navigation, and an eight-speaker audio system with subwoofer.
Other standard equipment includes a power-adjustable steering column (very swish), keyless entry with push-button start, LED head, fog and tail-lights, heated side mirrors, roof rails, and a roof-mounted rear spoiler.
As we've covered in our long-term updates for technology and interior comfort/practicality, the UX presents a strong value for money proposition when compared to the premium SUV segment, offering a comprehensive level of standard equipment and technology that many rivals will have you tick option boxes for.
Things like ventilated seats and powered steering column adjustment are features still usually reserved for high-end luxury cars, while the quality finishes throughout the cabin reaffirm the Lexus's pitch as a proper premium vehicle.
Overall, the cabin offers a layout that almost wraps around the driver. The perforated leather on the steering wheel and seat inserts combined with the contrasting red stitching throughout the front of the cabin add to the more sporting theme of the F Sport trim level, as do the beautiful and comfortable F Sport front seats.
Both the driver's seat and steering wheel offer plenty of adjustment so people of all shapes and sizes can find a comfortable driving position, while the front seats themselves offer plenty of bolstering and support to hold you in without feeling like they're constricting you.
There are some minor complaints, though. Some of the plastics that aren't touch points are finished in hard, scratchy plastics, as are the rear door panels unlike the soft-touch fronts. It's also a shame the 10.3-inch widescreen display (which looks great on first glance) lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto despite overseas versions offering the technology – though this should be addressed before the end of this year.
Moving further back there's other niggles, too. Rear passengers get air vents and two USB power outlets, but legroom is quite limited especially behind a taller driver. There is a fold-down centre armrest, but it's best to not try fit three adults in the back if you want to stay on good terms with them.
For the little ones, there's Isofix mounts on the two outer rear seats, and top tether points for all three pews in the back.
At the very rear of the cabin, there's 364L of cargo volume, but there's a catch. Technically, the F Sport has no more standard boot room than the spare tyre-equipped Luxury grade (327L), though the absence of the space saver spare means an extra 37L of underfloor storage.
Unfortunately the Lexus lacks the boot practicality of rivals, with a shallow loading bay and a sloping tailgate that limits room for taller items. The load partition could also be passed off as a bit of an afterthought, given you could mistake it for one of those fold-out window shades you stick on the rear windows. In saying that, the light weight and foldability means you can just fold it up and stow it pretty much anywhere.
Power in the UX250h comes from a 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine outputting 107kW at 6000rpm and 188Nm between 4400–5200rpm, teamed with an 80kW/202Nm electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery pack.
Combined, the company quotes a system power output of 131kW, but no torque figure. Our tester sends drive to the front wheels via a CVT automatic, with 'e-four' all-wheel drive available as an option (from $61,000 plus on-road costs in F Sport guise).
Many will look at the stats on paper and say the Lexus is underpowered, but in reality it's got enough shove for most people particularly given its urban focus.
Around town there's little fuss from the hybrid system, getting you up to city speeds with ample pace. The electric motor will usually do the work to get you off the line before the petrol engine kicks in between 20km/h and 35km/h, depending on how hard you hit the throttle.
Being a CVT you'll see the revs flare under load, though the transmission will try to simulate regular gears unless you fully depress the accelerator pedal. It certainly does the job fine without setting the world on fire.
At this price point many turbocharged rivals will claim 0-100 times of between 6.5 and 7.5 seconds, whereas the efficiency-tuned Lexus claims to do the benchmark sprint in 8.5 seconds (according to Lexus UK).
We didn't test acceleration with GPS tracking equipment on a closed road, but the UX certainly doesn't have the outright pace of more powerful models, though it obviously counters that with superior real-world efficiency.
Lexus claims the UX250h uses just 4.5L/100km in combined driving, and we saw an indicated figure of 5.7L/100km at the end of our loan. Keep in mind electrified vehicles are less efficient in colder weather (we had the UX over a very cold 2019 Melbourne winter), and the fact the UX250h F Sport weighs a relatively porky 1625kg, and it's hard not to praise the little crossover for using as little fuel as a micro hatchback in mostly urban driving.
With more city driving and heavier reliance on the vehicle's battery system, we regularly saw the indicated fuel readout dip closer to the 5.0L/100km mark, while more highway driving saw it climb closer to 6.0L/100km, which no matter which way you look at it is very impressive.
From the UX's tiny 43L fuel tank, we regularly saw between 500 and 550km between fills, and the Lexus runs happily on cheaper 91 RON unleaded. What does that mean? It's dirt cheap to run.
Just because the powertrain is tuned for efficiency though, doesn't mean the UX isn't good to drive. In fact, it has a capable and dynamic chassis that is genuinely engaging to steer.
The direct steering and darty dynamics mean the UX is quite a bit of fun to drive down a twisty B-road, and if you flick the drive mode selector into 'Sport', you get an LFA-style dial in the digital instrument cluster. Sport really turns up the responsiveness of the powertrain to give you the electric motor's instant torque as soon as you touch the pedal while also encouraging the petrol engine to rev out a bit to hit the peak torque and power bands.
It rides pretty well, too. The F Sport is the only version of the UX to get the Adaptive Variable Suspension system, which offsets the trim level's larger wheels and run-flat tyres somewhat. Around town the UX is supple enough and rarely crashes over the sharpest of imperfections, though it is noticeably firmer than the Luxury grade with chubbier tyres we sampled for a couple of weeks while Lexus repaired Forest's centre tail-light strip for condensation.
Overall refinement is pretty good as well, with the little Lexus providing decent levels of insulation from road and wind noise. Again, the larger wheels and run-flat aren't as good as the smaller rims and chunkier rubber of the lesser Luxury, with a bit of perceived tyre roar creeping in over coarse-chip highways.
All the driver tech seems to work really well, to the point where the UX could almost drive itself. The all-speed adaptive cruise control system worked well in Melbourne's peak-hour traffic on the M3 Eastern Freeway, while the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems were quite handy given some of the obstructed rearward vision caused by the UX's thick C-pillar design and slim glasshouse.
The lane tracing system, though, was often turned off for being a little too intrusive and constantly counter steering even when the vehicle was nowhere near the edge of its lane. Toyota and Lexus lane departure and lane keep systems are known to be a little too keen to kick in, but some might find it useful still.
From an ownership perspective, the UX is covered by Lexus's four year, 100,000km warranty. The Lexus DriveCare programme is complimentary for the duration of the new-vehicle warranty period, which includes 24/7 roadside assistance, one-way metro taxi fares up to $150 (incl. GST) should your car break down, off-road patrols, a courier service for urgent small parcels or documents, along with entry assistance if you’re locked out of your vehicle. More on that here.
Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. The first service is free of charge, with the second, third and fourth visits asking for $631, $523 and $631 respectively.
After spending an extended period of time with little Forest, it demonstrated how easy and affordable the Lexus UX250h is to live with as an everyday commuter.
It's the perfect premium crossover for singles and couples that don't need a huge back seat, and is a genuine class leader in the efficiency and running cost stakes. Let's not forget the brand's reputation for bulletproof reliability, either.
However, you're probably better off with the Luxury or Sports Luxury as they don't give you any false illusions of sportiness in their design and are either better value or feature more high-end features that justify the price tag.
2019 Lexus UX250h F Sport
- Distance travelled: 4806.9km
- Fuel consumption (indicated): 5.7L/100km
MORE: Long-term report one: Introduction
MORE: Long-term report two: Interior
MORE: Long-term report three: Infotainment and tech
MORE: Long-term report four: Urban driving
MORE: Long-term report five: Highway driving
MORE: UX250h news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE: Everything Lexus