Lexus UX upgraded – and EV given 40 per cent range boost | CAR Magazine

Lexus UX upgraded – and EV given 40 per cent range boost

Published: 07 November 2022 Updated: 07 November 2022

► Updates to UX compact SUV for 2023
► Hybrid UX 250h and electric UX 300e
► Longer range, new infotainment system

The Lexus UX – the entry model in the premium Japanese brand’s line-up – is being overhauled with a series of model-year updates to make the compact SUV more competitive and give its all-electric version a significantly longer range.

It’s a classic mid-life facelift, bringing a host of engineering and spec revisions to stimulate interest in the crossover in the face of newer competition.

The Lexus UX was launched in 2018 to rival the likes of the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. It’s big news for Lexus: this is the brand’s biggest-selling car in the UK – and across western Europe, where it sold 21,144 units last year.

What’s new for the 2023 Lexus UX?

Two models are sold in the UK: the UX 250h ‘self-charging’ hybrid and the UX 300e, full-electric crossover. The latter gets a significantly boosted EV range for 2023, stretched by 40 per cent for a claimed 280 miles between recharges.

All models benefit from the latest upgraded infotainment system, as seen on the NX and other Lexus models. It’s a major improvement over the earlier fiddly joystick-operated OS and comes with the choice of 8in or 12in screens (larger display shown, above), Apple CarPlay and ‘Hey Lexus’ voice operation.

There’s also a zingy new UX 250h F Sport design trim, fresh two-tone paint option and an improved Lexus Safety System+, which brings better pre-collision preparation, adaptive cruise control which trims speed for motorway corners and Emergency Steering Assist.

Lexus UX electric: the first full Lexus EV

The UX 300e is Lexus’s first full-electric production car. The hybrid model was the mainstay of the range since launch in 2018, but the UX 300e variant joined the line-up in 2020 as part of the brand’s electrification strategy.

Lexus electric cars: our guide

The original UX 300e had a 53kWh battery pack and an e-motor that produced 201bhp and 221lb ft. That powertrain brought figures of 7.5sec for the 0-62mph sprint, a top speed of 99mph and a WLTP range of 196 miles.

The new 2023 UX 300e gets a substantially bigger 73kWh battery pack for a longer 280-mile range on the smaller 17-inch wheels (or 273 miles on the bigger 18s). The power output remains unchanged, suggesting similar performance figures are likely.

While Brits can buy the upgraded hybrid now, the electric UX 300e won’t be available in right-hand drive until the second half of 2023, Lexus warns.

Lexus UX 300e review: we test the electric one

Lexus UX: the rest of the range

The UX is the smallest – and most distinctive – of the Japanese luxury marque’s new three-pronged SUV offering in Europe. While it maintains the same design language as other Lexus cars and features the same heavily-stylised spindle grille, it looks a little more aggressive – mainly thanks to more muscular wings, haunches and a high beltline.

This was a deliberate strategy of chief designer Tetsuo Miki, who wanted to convey impressions of strength and agility, most aptly illustrated with the raised front wings that stand proud of the bonnet line.

At the intitial reveal, Lexus told us that the UX will handle in a sporty fashion, too, and features an all-new platform that should reduce body roll and exhibit ‘hatchback’ handling thanks to a low centre of gravity. Which is a bold claim for a small SUV, and one that was largely disproven when we first drove it.

The Lexus UX is built upon the Toyota group’s global GA-C platform, already familiar from the Toyota C-HR and Prius hybrids. Both front- and all-wheel drive versions of the 176bhp UX 250h hybrid are available, joined by a petrol-only UX 200 that the UK doesn’t get.

Lexus UX: specs and models for the UK

Brits have a choice of just two models in the 2023 UX range:

  • Lexus UX 250h 2.0-litre petrol, two electric motors, 181bhp
  • Lexus UX 300e 73kWh battery, 201bhp

The UX’s mission is to attract buyers to the marque who wouldn’t have otherwise considered anything from the Lexus stable. That explains why it’s boldy styled, with references to the world of racing, if you believe the designers’ spiel. That full-width rear light bar not only looks contemporary, the flick-ups at the end are representative of the slender tail lights on LMP1 racing cars, apparently…

As for the Lexus UX interior, although not as wild as the UX Concept’s was, it nevertheless looks distinctive, borrowing many cues from the recently launched LS luxury saloon.

Quality has always been a given with Lexus models and the new 2023 infotainment system should make a significant difference to day-to-day driving and ease of use.

Like the driving position itself, the instruments and controls are set low, reinforcing the UX’s sportiness, while Miki-san suggests the broad horizontal lines are further reminders to occupants of the ‘Lexus’s strength and security.’

Read our Lexus reviews here

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches