With many cars, you have to choose between luxury and the environment. The Lexus UX 250h lets you have both. I took this hybrid crossover to Northampton, MA, where environmental causes rule the day. So I fit right in with a car that gets 41 miles per gallon.
But in this northern climate, you also need a car that will perform well in harsh winters. The Lexus has you covered there, too. The UX has all wheel drive, so you can feel confident in snow and icy conditions.
Although it was a crisp, sunny fall weekend, I tested out the heated seats, which warmed me up quickly. The seats are also cooled for hot weather.
The Lexus has wireless charging, sharp looking two toned seats and a power sunroof. The dashboard trim resembles Japanese shoji paper.
Lots to Love in Northampton
What I love about Northampton is the small town vibe, but big city amenities. You can eat very well here- and drink, too. And since Northampton is so small, you can park your car – my daughter’s apartment includes a huge driveway and three (3!!) car garage – walk to town.
We usually stick to the tried and true in Northampton but decided to branch out this time. First we went to The Green Room, a craft cocktail bar that would be equally at home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The mixologists here make their own bitters and infusions, creating complex and delicious drinks.
Drinks here change seasonally. They are divided into basic, classic and modern. But even a classic, like a Manhattan, had a twist: chili bitters and a flaming bit of lemon. The drink was spectacular.
As a college town, Northampton has plenty of breweries ad dive bars. But this high end cocktail bar – with a ‘secret’ menu of super premium liquor (and NYC prices) is worth the splurge.
On to Dinner
Next, we headed to the just opened HighBrow Wood Fired Kitchen + Bar. We somewhat regretted our time spent at the cocktail bar, since every Northampton foodie was packed into the new restaurant. But the cheerful, somewhat harried owners made the wait a party scene, with free Prosecco and tantalizing aromas from the pizza ovens.
We quickly ordered a Wood Fire Roasted Vegetable Board, which didn’t quite deliver on its promise. There was one Brussels sprout and lots of zucchini and peppers. No Marcona almonds or pickled grapes. But the vegan cashew ricotta was tasty and the warm olives were delicious.
Dinner picked up with the pizzas: we had goat cheese with roasted garlic, cracked black pepper, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes and the Olde World, with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, red onion and lemon zest.
Because this wasn’t enough cheese, we also got the incredibly rich and satisfying macaroni and cheese, with an add-on of wild mushrooms.
To counteract all that, we had the vegan tempeh steak with vegetable quinoa.
Food Co-op and Parking
The next day, we drove to the River Valley Food Co-op, a grocery tore that also has excellent prepared foods. I usually walk or bike to my food co-op, but here, the parking lot was so packed that we had to wait to enter the lot. And I was glad to have a vehicle with such a short turn radius. Someone got in a car and I quickly stopped and signaled for the spot. Our friends were already at the store and were surprised that I snagged such a great spot. They don’t know how NYC drivers have great parking sense.
We had a great vegetarian lunch, then filled the car with organic goodies from the food co-op. Fresh baked break, heirloom apples, colorful cauliflower and just picked kale were some of our finds.
The Lexus nav system has a cool feature where it welcomes you to a new state when you cross a border. The system, which had an option for a live person to download directions, constantly updated our route home due to changing traffic conditions. Our ride started out as a three hour trip, then stretched to a five hour and 45 minute slog. Lexus just launched a yacht. Maybe next a Lexus that transforms into a helicopter and avoids all traffic jams?
Note: Lexus loaned me the UX. Opinions expressed are my own.