Lexus UX 300e review

Category: Electric car

Electric SUV is pleasant to drive, but short on range, space and a decent infotainment interface

Lexus UX 300e front cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e front cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e rear cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e interior dashboard
  • Lexus UX 300e interior back seats
  • Lexus UX 300e interior infotainment
  • Lexus UX 300e front right tracking
  • Lexus UX 300e rear left tracking
  • Lexus UX 300e front cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e front left static
  • Lexus UX 300e headlights detail
  • Lexus UX 300e grille detail
  • Lexus UX 300e rear lights detail
  • Lexus UX 300e charging socket detail
  • Lexus UX 300e interior front seats
  • Lexus UX 300e interior driver display
  • Lexus UX 300e interior detail
  • Lexus UX 300e boot open
  • Lexus UX 300e front cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e rear cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e interior dashboard
  • Lexus UX 300e interior back seats
  • Lexus UX 300e interior infotainment
  • Lexus UX 300e front right tracking
  • Lexus UX 300e rear left tracking
  • Lexus UX 300e front cornering
  • Lexus UX 300e front left static
  • Lexus UX 300e headlights detail
  • Lexus UX 300e grille detail
  • Lexus UX 300e rear lights detail
  • Lexus UX 300e charging socket detail
  • Lexus UX 300e interior front seats
  • Lexus UX 300e interior driver display
  • Lexus UX 300e interior detail
  • Lexus UX 300e boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Lexus UX 300e looks, on paper, like a car destined for success. After all, it’s a posh electric SUV crossover, and it doesn’t get more ‘in vogue’ than that.

Before we begin this review, though, we must point out that Lexus doesn’t see the UX 300e as a rival for other electric SUVs such as the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Nir0 EV, Peugeot e-2008 or even the VW ID.4. As the “only all-electric crossover SUV in the premium segment”, Lexus would prefer you to view the UX as a natural rival to the Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge.

That might seem a bit of a leap at first, but when you consider the entry level UX 300e costs more than a Model 3 Standard Range Plus (or more than a Long Range if you add the Premium Plus Pack), it only seems fair to compare the UX 300e to the other premium propositions. 

However you look at it, though, it will have its work cut out. All of the rivals have a longer range than the UX 300e’s official 196 miles, and while a 0-62mph of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 100mph are perfectly respectable figures, it won’t be grabbing any headlines. 

In terms of styling, Lexus, like Peugeot, believes that buyers of full-EV models want their cars to look as 'normal' as possible. Therefore, the design team for the UX 300e has had an easy job: the only visual changes to differentiate it from the regular petrol-electric hybrid Lexus UX are a more aerodynamic front grille, special 17-inch 'aero-ventilating' alloy wheels and different badges. 

Over the next few pages of this Lexus UX300e review, we’ll be exploring more than just aesthetics. We’ll be investigating what it’s like to drive, how plush and spacious it is, plus how much it’ll cost you to buy and run. We'll also let you know whether it can compete with the best electric SUVs.

Don’t forget, whichever electric car you settle on, you could save a packet on the make and model you decide to buy using the free What Car? New Car Deals service, where you'll find lots of great new electric SUV deals.

Overview

If you live in a city, are hankering after a posh compact SUV and fancy going electric, we can see why the UX 300e would be a tempting proposition. It’s well-equipped, pleasant to drive and comes with the promise of Lexus’s excellent reliability record. However, if you have a family or frequently need to do longer journeys, there is a plethora of more spacious rivals out there, the Kia Niro EV, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4 (or even the ID.3) and Volvo XC40 Recharge being among them. All those cars offer significantly longer ranges, faster charging, better infotainment and much more interior space.

  • Well-equipped
  • Comfortable ride
  • Reliability record
  • Cramped rear seat space and boot
  • Short range and slow charging
  • Frustrating infotainment
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Our Pick

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Lexus Ux 250h 2.0 5dr CVT [without Nav]
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Lexus UX 300e has a 54.3kWh battery and an electric motor that powers the front wheels. It delivers 201bhp and 221lb ft of torque, and its 0-62mph time of 7.5sec makes it quicker than cheaper electric SUVs such as the Peugeot e-2008, but significantly slower than a Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2 or Volvo XC40 Recharge.

In other words, it feels peppy off the line – in fact, if the road is wet, the UX relies quite heavily on its traction control system to prevent its front wheels from spinning up – but once you get up to motorway speeds acceleration does start to tail off a bit. 

Lexus UX image
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There are several drive modes to choose from (of which Sport provides the best accelerator response), as well as various energy regeneration regimes that car slow the car down simply by lifting off the accelerator. You can toggle through the various levels of brake regeneration by using the paddles behind the steering wheel.

This makes it easy to use, as you can slow the car down progressively, as you might by downshifting in a car with an automatic gearbox. Even in its most aggressive mode, the UX300e’s brake regeneration isn’t pronounced enough to allow one-pedal driving like the XC40 Recharge system does.

Perhaps if the 'regen' effect on the UX300e was a little stronger, it might make the power reserves of its 54.3kWh battery go a little further – as it is, we’d expect to see around 150 miles of range in mixed real-world conditions. We’ll be putting it through its paces in our Real Range test in the future. 

To handle the extra weight added by the electric version’s batteries, the UX has received extra structural bracing, and its dampers have been reworked to maintain optimum weight distribution.

Just don’t go into a test drive thinking that this is a sporty option; it’s tidy enough through corners but there’s plenty of body lean and the steering is light and has little sense of connection. The fat, squidgy steering wheel rim doesn’t help that sense of disconnect, either.

Still, the soft suspension delivers a respectable ride, especially on a motorway, where the car adopts a pleasant relaxed gait. In town it struggles a little to round off the kicks and knocks generated by sharper-edged potholes and ridges, but it’s more comfortable than the Model 3 or Polestar 2.

Lexus UX 300e rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Slip behind the wheel of the Lexus UX 300e and you'll find an acceptable, rather than outstanding, driving position. Entry-level UX trim comes as standard with eight-way electric seat adjustment and variable lumbar support, but the seats don’t offer much of the elevated driving position that some might want from an SUV. You sit barely any higher than you do in a Polestar 2, and lower than you do in a Volvo XC40 Recharge or VW ID.4.

That fact doesn't aid rear visibility either, and nor does the kicked-up rear window line, all of which makes over-the-shoulder visibility very limited. All models come with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera to help mitigate this problem, and bright LED headlights are at hand, too. 

While the UX 300e is designed to look distinctive inside, we’d prefer this apparent attention to detail to be backed up with a little more substance. While it feels sturdily made, and there are plush, soft-touch finishes to the dashboard and doors, there’s also far too much scratchy plastic on display lower down for a car at this price point.

Another major sticking point – and one that’s common in Lexus models – is the UX’s infotainment system. The standard 7.0in screen is tiny by class standards (for reference the Tesla Model 3 and Ford Mustang Mach-E get huge 15.0in touchscreen systems), and both it and the 10.3in display that comes as standard with the Takumi pack are of low resolution next to the sharp and clear screens found in nearly every other rival. 

Then there are its convoluted menus to deal with, which are made even more frustrating by the fiddly laptop-style touchpad via which it's navigated. It's more distracting to use than a touchscreen, and it's far less intuitive than the rotary controller of the iDrive infotainment system in the BMW i3

At least there are some shortcut buttons around the centre armrest that make it easier to swap between the main functions, while Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring are standard, allowing you to use the navigation software on your phone. That’s handy as you need to spec the Takumi pack if you want in-built sat-nav. The Takumi pack also brings with it a head-up display and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that sounds very good.

Lexus UX 300e interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

There's plenty of head and leg room up front in the Lexus UX 300e, but rear passenger space is poor. Not only do the narrow rear door openings make it tricky to get in and out, but anyone approaching six foot tall will find their knees pressed up against the seat backs and the footwells are very tight. 

That's with just two adults in the rear. Try fitting three adults in the back of a UX and it'll be a real struggle for the middle passenger especially, with a compromised middle rear seat that sits higher than the outer two, reducing the head room it can offer. The Ford Mustang Mach-ETesla Model 3Volvo XC40 Recharge and VW ID.4 all serve their rear-seat passengers far better.

The boot is a useful square shape, has no awkward load lip at its entrance and has a convenient hidden cubby for the cable beneath the boot floor. However, all that's completely undermined by the small main luggage compartment. Granted, it’s not as diminutive as the boot in the standard hybrid Lexus UX (the electric UX 300e's is 47 litres bigger) but this is still a vastly smaller boot than you get in most rivals. We only managed to get four carry-on cases beneath the UX300e’s flimsy tonneau cover, while many rivals manage seven or more.

Passenger storage is reasonable, but not superb. There's a smallish glovebox and front door bins, along with a decent cubby under the central armrest and a couple of cup holders. Rear-seat passengers are served with a couple of map pockets but, disappointingly, no door bins. Certainly, there’s a whole host of more spacious and practical alternatives, including those more affordable alternatives from less premium manufacturers.

Lexus UX 300e interior back seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Lexus UX 300e is one of the smaller electric SUVs out there, so you might expect it to be a natural rival for cars such as the Kia Niro EV or Peugeot e-2008. But as it turns out, the entry-level car is priced more in line with a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus. Premium Plus Pack and Takumi Pack cars sit closer to the much faster and more practical Volvo XC40 Recharge.

The UX 300e is an expensive proposition, then, and monthly finance costs don’t do it any favours, either. It’ll cost a similar amount, if not more, per month than many of those premium, longer-range alternatives we’ve mentioned.

You do at least get a lot of standard kit. It’s a shame the entry-level model misses out on keyless entry, but most buyers will opt for our recommended Premium Plus Pack trim level, which brings luxuries such as leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outer rear seats, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and a smartphone wireless charger. 

Takumi spec is equipped with a larger, 10.3in infotainment screen, more advanced LED headlights, an upgraded sound system, head-up display, a hands free tailgate and a sunroof, but it costs far too much to be recommended. 

Every model comes with Lexus’s Safety System Plus package, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beam and road sign detection. Takumi pack also brings blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic Alert sensors to warn you of things crossing your path as you reverse.

What is less ideal is the charging on the UX 300e. It’s equipped with a Type 2 socket that will allow you to plug into your home car charger, where you’ll get a full battery in under nine hours.

However, the UX’s rapid charging tops out at 50kW, which will get you an 80% charge in around 50 minutes. That’s slow compared to the rapid charging offered in rivals like the Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2 and Ford Mustang Mach-E, which can charge at more than twice those speeds.

Not only that, but the UX uses a CHAdeMO socket for its DC rapid charging. There are plenty of CHAdeMO rapid chargers in the UK that the UX300e will be able to plug into but almost every other EV on sale uses a different socket type, called a CCS socket.

CCS is the European standard that all new rapid chargers in Western Europe are compatible with and, as the infrastructure grows, CCS promises to be more convenient than CHAdeMO on a long journey.

The Model 3 and the XC40 Recharge are two of the safest cars in the class according to their Euro NCAP results, and the UX is up there with them, scoring well for adult and child occupancy protection. The XC40 is fractionally better at protecting children in the rear from whiplash, but the UX still scores the full five stars. 

Lexus gains some serious points over its rivals for reliability, though. As a manufacturer it finished first in the What Car? Reliability Survey, which covered 30 manufacturers. So while the UX's three-year/60,000-mile warranty is far from generous, chances are you'll not need to make use of it. The UX’s battery is covered for eight years, but a 100,000-mile cap applies.

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Lexus UX 300e interior infotainment
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RRP price range £34,770 - £57,095
Number of trims (see all)9
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric, hybrid
MPG range across all versions 47 - 56.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £95 / £2,965
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £190 / £5,930
Available colours