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Lexus UX. Photo: Lexus

This week I'm driving the 2019 Lexus UX 250h F-Sport, an entry-level Lexus with awfully big ambitions.

Details: The UX (urban crossover) is aimed at millennials looking for adventure in the city. It tries to be both sporty and efficient, affordable yet luxurious. Though labeled a crossover, it's really just a hatchback.

What's new: The UX hybrid has some nifty superpowers that allow it to see into the future to maximize efficiency — a skill Lexus claims is an industry first.

How it works: Per Lexus, the car can optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery by working with the navigation system and the driver's habits.

  • Typically, a hybrid draws energy from the battery when accelerating.
  • When braking or coasting, wasted energy is captured and stored, earning power for future driving.
  • When coasting on a long, downhill stretch of road, a full charge could be reached partway down the hill; any additional regenerated energy would be wasted.
  • The UX avoids this by calculating when a long downhill stretch lies ahead, and then relying more heavily on battery-only driving to reduce the state of charge and better accept that regeneration opportunity.
  • The result: a fuel economy of 39 mpg.

Plus, safety tech is standard on the UX, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and front- and rear-collision mitigation systems.

My thought bubble: While impressed by the car's smarts and focus on safety, I think the UX is too cramped and its infotainment system too complicated to get me to fork over $40,000.

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