Publication date: 21 December 2023
Lexus LBX

Lexus LBX

Luxury for beginners

Review - Luxury and exclusivity are strange things. In fact, they owe their existence to scarcity. In other words, something is only exclusive if there are few of them. And as soon as luxury becomes commonplace, it becomes standard. Yet exclusive brand Lexus dares to offer a luxury car for the general public. Why? And does that mean the "LBX" is still a real Lexus?

When developing a new car, manufacturers always look for a balance between the price and the product on offer. With Lexus until now, that has meant placing few restrictions on quality, space or technology because the customer was happy to pay for it. With the LBX, this is different for the first time! The LBX should offer all the luxury and exclusivity of Lexus, but in a more compact package and at a lower price.

Lexus LBX

Exclusivity: Design

To still make a compact car into something special, a lot of work has gone into its looks. The LBX sits on the same platform as the Toyota Yaris Cross, but to get to the proportions of a true Lexus, the LBX is longer and wider. Moreover, the bonnet is relatively long, for a distinguished look. In short: the LBX does not share an inch of sheet metal with its Toyota counterpart.

Despite the wider and longer platform, interior space is moderate. The long bonnet reduces cabin space and the advanced suspension also demands a lot of space. Front head and legroom are ample, but the room to move around the front seats is small. Despite its tall build, the LBX offers low seating like in a regular hatchback if so desired. Rear seat space is significantly less than average in this segment. Even the interior storage space is small (door pockets, glovebox).

Lexus LBX
Lexus LBX

Luxury: space and technology

It all makes up for it with the exclusive look of the interior. At least, when the right options are chosen. The test drive started with a grey LBX with a black interior. Then, while this is a luxurious and mature little car, any kind of emotion is missing. So choose one in a vibrant colour with a distinct interior ("Takumi" is recommended). Then this little Lexus offers the same materials and finish quality as the big models, making the LBX unique.

A lot of the luxury and safety features of Lexus' larger models are also available on the small LBX. Even specialist Mark Levinson's famous audio system is available. The electronics are even similar to those of Lexus' larger models. However, the speakers are slightly simpler and the subwoofer is housed in the rear doors to save space. The sound is warm and clear as usual with Mark Levinson, but the difference with the more expensive models is noticeable.

From 2024, the European Union sets very high standards for active safety. The LBX meets these, with the result that any carelessness on the part of the driver is immediately punished with alarm bells and warnings. As if that were not bad enough, the LBX also regularly reads signs for exits, for example, and then warns that the speed on the turn is exceeded without taking the exit! These meddling and belittling systems dominated the test drive, but unfortunately, from 2024, this will be standard on all new cars and Lexus is simply complying with the law.

Lexus LBX


The platform on which the LBX is built is basically suitable for all-electric drive, and for Western Europe that would be by far the most logical form of drive. However, globally, the demand for standard hybrids is still highest and therefore the LBX is only available with hybrid drive. Moreover, after all the modifications, the platform is no longer suitable for electric drive.

The petrol and electric engines are basically the same as in the Toyota Yaris Cross. However, the petrol engine has balance shafts and a different suspension to better counteract vibrations. The battery has a larger capacity and the electric motor is stronger. That way, more energy can be recovered during braking and coasting, while the electric motor can assist more often and more decisively when needed.

In practice, these differences come into their own. The three-cylinder engine retains its distinctive noise, but any vibration is suppressed. Although performance is nothing special on paper, in practice the LBX feels smooth and lively. A pleasant reserve is always available and performance is delivered with great ease, as usual in the upper class. If desired, the driver can shift gears using levers behind the steering wheel, but during the test, the automatic did its job so well that there was never any need to do so.

Under favourable weather conditions, and on a demanding track, test consumption of 5.2 litres per 100 km was achieved. That is decent and roughly in line with Lexus' promise.

Lexus LBX

Highway behaviour

A small car can offer the luxury of a big one. And a small car can be fast and comfortable with the right drivetrain. However, even Lexus is constrained by the laws of nature. Despite a highly advanced chassis, it is abundantly clear in practice that this is a compact car. Moreover, to achieve lively handling, Lexus could not stuff the LBX with sound insulation. The LBX is therefore no quieter on bad road surfaces and therefore no more comfortable on long distances than other smalls.

And yet there is a big difference from other compact cars! This becomes clear when driving quicker. Communication with the driver is above average and therefore it is quite noticeable that the LBX is extremely capable. In situations and at speeds where other compact cars noticeably struggle, the LBX behaves as calmly and predictably as ever. At even higher speeds, the eagerness increases while maintaining dignity. Then the LBX offers the same combination of calmness and a sporty disposition that has traditionally characterised every Lexus.

Lexus LBX


Lexus makes a remarkable move by not introducing yet another large car, but by opting for a model in the second smallest segment of the market. So the first question is: why? The answer: to offer people who currently drive a large and luxurious car a more compact, economical and eco-friendly alternative. In that respect, the LBX has a good chance of succeeding. In the right trim, the LBX is luxurious and offers the same refinement as a big Lexus.

The second question is: is the LBX a full-fledged Lexus? Yes and no. A compact car does not have the handling of a limousine. On long distances and bad road surfaces, the LBX drives like an average compact crossover. However, with a sporty driving style, it is noticeable that the limits are much further. The hybrid powertrain also provides better performance, more comfort and lower fuel consumption than a standard petrol engine. However, the LBX does not offer the performance and tranquillity of an electric car.

When that last fact is ignored, it is no exaggeration to say that the LBX is the best equiped and most refined car of its kind. And with that, the LBX gives the privileged feeling that comes with a Lexus, now for beginners too!

  • Rich, modern equipment
  • High-quality materials, refined design
  • Brings the privileged feeling of Lexus within reach of a larger group
  • Test car not free of rattles
  • More expensive to run than an electric car
  • Moderate rear legroom / moderate interior storage space