What is it?

Lexus occupies quite an interesting space in the motoring landscape. It is known, of course, for its premium models which largely revolve around larger, more high-end body styles. Take the full-size RX SUV, for example, or the comfort-focused ES. But even Lexus can’t ignore the growing demand for smaller SUVs and crossovers, which has prompted the creation of this – the LBX.

It’s built with a little help from Toyota – the LBX shares a platform and engine setup with the firm’s Yaris Cross – but has been tweaked to give it some of the hallmark features which people expect from Lexus, such as a higher-quality interior and improved refinement. But in a segment as cut-throat as the one for crossovers, can the LBX stand out? We’ve been driving it to see.

What’s new?

As we just mentioned, the LBX is based on the same platform as the Toyota Yaris Cross. However, Lexus has been keen to impress that this is far from some cookie-cutter operation, with a variety of edits made to differentiate it from this donor vehicle.

But its arrival marks a big change for Lexus. The LBX will be the brand’s smallest vehicle when customer deliveries start in March 2024, while its price tag reflects a more value-focused approach from a brand which has never traditionally shied away from more ‘top end’ prices.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

What’s under the bonnet?

The engine setup in the LBX is one thing which remains largely unchanged against the Yaris Cross. It’s a standard ‘self-charging’ hybrid setup which uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine at its core, linked to a new ‘bi-polar’ hybrid battery which aims to bring more power compared with a traditional battery but with far lower weight. In fact, weight is a big factor with the LBX as at 1,350kg, it’s remarkably light compared with many of its rivals.

Efficiency-wise, this hybrid system pays dividends. Lexus claims that you could get up to 62.7mpg combined alongside CO2 emissions of between 102 and 108g/km depending on wheel size. Power goes to the front wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox and, if you’d like a little extra traction, an all-wheel-drive version will also be available.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

What’s it like to drive?

All of the major driving characteristics in the LBX are positive. As we mentioned, it’s a light car and this transfers through to the way it drives as it manages to feel nimble and agile through the bends, while the steering has a nice bit of weight to it. With a 0-60mph time of nine seconds dead, it isn’t what you’d call fast, but the electric assistance that you get away from a dead stop means it feels a little bit sharper away from the lights than the figures might suggest.

Though Lexus is known for its hushed cabin the LBX does suffer from some prominent wind and road noise – particularly when you’re travelling over rough surfaces – but it isn’t too bad and is largely what we’d expect from a car of this size. The CVT gearbox, as is the case with nearly all cars using it, is loud and raucous if you really press on the throttle but drive the LBX in a calmer fashion and it feels far more suited to the job. It’s ideal for around-town driving; it’s only when you need to join a motorway that it really becomes noisy.

How does it look?

Lexus has actually done away with quite a lot of its hallmark styling touches for the LBX. Gone is the huge spindle grille that we’ve seen on a number of its models, replaced instead by a more modest setup. This is a compact car, after all, so a gigantic front grille might’ve looked a little strange – but it does mean it stands apart from the rest of the Lexus line-up.

The good news is that the LBX has a good choice of colours, with our test car’s ‘Sonic Copper’ shade looking particularly good. It’s joined by yellows, blues and reds and though there are more understated greys and silvers available, it’s just nice to see some brighter shades on offer in a new car.

What’s it like inside?

Lexus always aims to take its cars down a more premium route than others in the market and, in most places, this is the case with the LBX. Smart stitching, nicely damped buttons and a good fit-and-finish help to elevate it above rivals, though there are some scratchier plastics placed here and there with the large glovebox being a noticeable area where things don’t feel quite so top-end.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Rear-seat space isn’t too bad, though if there’s a taller driver then the person sitting behind them is going to feel quite squashed. Though there’s the capacity for three-abreast seating in the LBX, it really does feel like this would be best suited to occasional use – it’s far too small to be seen as a reliable five-seater. A 402-litre boot is decent for this class of car, too, and you can extend it to 994 litres with the rear seats down.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

What’s the spec like?

Interestingly, in a time when most car manufacturers are slimming down their specifications lists, Lexus, well, hasn’t. In fact, there are a total of seven trim levels and we’d rather there were a few less since it’ll make deciding between them a lot more confusing.

However, if you opt for that entry-level Urban grade you’re getting 17-inch wheels as standard alongside LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors and a 9.8-inch touchscreen with all the smartphone mirroring systems you need. At this price point the LBX makes for quite good value, too, and though you can move through the ranks it feels as though this Lexus delivers more than enough equipment without having to trouble the upper echelons of the trim list.


It takes quite a lot to stand out in this crowded market, but we reckon that the LBX has done just enough to put its head above the parapet. It’s a fine alternative to cars like the Audi Q2 which is now starting to feel its age, with the LBX’s well-specified interior and efficient powertrain setup making it a choice which both feels a little bit special and yet still economical to run.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

We’d argue that at higher specifications the LBX becomes a little too expensive to recommend, but in lower grades this is quite a convincing small crossover.


Model: Lexus LBX

Powertrain: 1.5-litre hybrid

Power: 134bhp

Torque: 185Nm

Max speed: 106mph

0-60mph: 9.0 seconds

MPG: 62.7

Emissions: 102-108g/km