Lexus LBX review

Category: Small SUV

The Lexus LBX is a small, hybrid-powered SUV that's well equipped and has a great interior

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  • Lexus LBX interior infotainment
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  • Lexus LBX interior dashboard
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  • Lexus LBX interior infotainment
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  • Lexus LBX interior detail
  • Lexus LBX interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Lexus LBX could be described as the Wagamama of small SUVs. You see, like the noodle-bar chain's dishes, it's a Japanese product aimed at the European market.

Can the LBX replicate the ramen restaurants' success? Well, the signs are good, because with Lexus being the premium arm of Toyota, the LBX has a similar hybrid system to the super-efficient Toyota Yaris Cross.

You probably wouldn't guess that from looking at the two cars side by side though: the LBX is a completely different shape to the Yaris Cross, plus it has a bespoke interior and a longer wheelbase (the gap between the front and rear wheels) to maximise interior space.

So, does the Lexus LBX have what it takes to challenge the best small SUVs from rival premium brands – such as the Audi Q2 and the Range Rover Evoque – or more mainstream rivals, including the Ford Puma and the Toyota C-HR? Read on to find out…


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Overview

The Lexus LBX hits the nail on the head when it comes to its intended purpose. It’s the smallest Lexus you can buy, yet it’s plush inside, cheap to run and very well equipped. You also get the promise of stellar reliability and rock-solid build quality. We recommend the Premium Plus trim for the best balance of kit and cost.

  • High-quality interior
  • Efficient hybrid system
  • Very well equipped
  • Fidgety low-speed ride
  • Tight rear seat space
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Performance & drive

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

While the Lexus LBX uses the same basic 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor combo as the Toyota Yaris Cross, it's so much more than a cynical rebadge of a cheaper car.

The LBX is more powerful for starters, so it has noticeably stronger acceleration when you need it. Indeed, the front-wheel-drive version can officially sprint from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, so it's significantly nippier than the Audi Q2 30 TFSI and only slightly slower than the Audi Q2 35 TFSI.

Unlike many small SUVs – including the Ford Puma and the Skoda Kamiq – the LBX is available with four-wheel drive if you go for one of the top trim levels. The extra motor on the rear axle should, in theory, improve traction in low-grip conditions (we haven't tried it yet), so it's potentially worth considering if you live somewhere with less clement weather.

The trade-off for opting for four-wheel drive (aside from the higher price) is slightly worse efficiency and a fractionally slower 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds. 

A big benefit of hybrid cars is that they're usually hushed when you're pootling around town because the electric motor can manage on its own in stop-start traffic. The LBX is no exception, making virtually silent progress until the engine kicks in. Not that the engine is particularly rowdy when it does fire up, mind. 

Indeed, Lexus has put real time (and no doubt money) into refining the LBX. The engine has been given a balancer shaft to reduce vibration for example, and despite the CVT automatic gearbox causing the engine revs to flare when you put your foot down hard, the accompanying noise is subdued (far more so than in Toyota's Yaris Cross and C-HR).

Lexus LBX image
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That said, you do hear a little more tyre and wind noise at motorway speeds than in some rivals. Lexus has fitted damping sheets to the doors to help reduce this, but the Q2, the VW T-Roc and the larger (and pricier) Range Rover Evoque are all slightly quieter cruising companions. 

So, what about comfort? Well, in contrast with some of the more expensive Lexus models, the ride is on the firmer side, so things sometimes get a little fidgety – particularly at town speeds. At least things never become annoyingly jarring and the ride improves noticeably the faster you go.

The relatively stiff suspension helps make the LBX a confidence-inspiring companion on twistier roads, as do its naturally weighted steering and grippy front end. True, it won't put a smile on your face quite like a Q2 or a Ford Puma, but it's more entertaining than plenty of other small SUVs, including the C-HR and the DS 3.

“I found slotting into gaps in traffic easy; front-wheel drive version of the LBX accelerates from 0-30mph in a nippy 3.5sec.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Driving overview

Strengths Tidy handling; decent performance; choice of two or four-wheel drive

Weaknesses Fidgety low-speed ride; some wind and road noise at higher speeds

Red Lexus LBX rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Lexus is renowned for creating some of the best interiors in the business and the LBX doesn't disappoint. It has a look and feel inside that's reminiscent of the company's larger SUVs, including the Lexus NX, with plush-feeling materials in all the important places, combined with superb build quality. 

The solid "thunk" you hear when you close a door is further evidence that the smallest Lexus SUV isn't simply a rebadged Toyota Yaris Cross. In fact, the only small SUVs that can even get close to the LBX for interior quality are the Audi Q2 and the soon-to-be-replaced Mini Countryman

It's only the cheapest LBX trim level – called Urban that makes do with fabric seats. All other trims have either synthetic leather upholstery, real leather or a combination of leather and suede.

Likewise, it's only the Urban trim that misses out on any form of ambient interior lighting. Takumi models (and the limited Original Edition) go further, with sophisticated 50-colour LED interior lighting for a more upmarket ambience.

The design of the LBX's dashboard is clean and uncluttered, and there are some physical controls for the air-conditioning (dual-zone climate control is standard on all trims) plus a knob for tweaking the stereo volume. Overall, it’s a far less distracting arrangement than you'll find in the VW T-Roc, which forces you to use a fiddly touch-sensitive panel to adjust its air-conditioning.

The cheapest trim levels come with a 7.0in digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel, with Premium Plus models and above getting a 12.3in alternative plus a head-up display. We’ve tested the 12.3in system, and found it easy to read on the move, with the head-up display beaming your speed and other information on to the windscreen directly in front of your eyes.

All LBXs come with a 9.8in infotainment touchscreen as standard. The system is relatively easy to use, with easy-to-hit icons and crisp graphics. Better still, wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay come as standard. You'll find three USB-C charging ports in the front of LBX plus two in the back, and if you go for Premium trim or above, there's also a wireless phone-charging pad.

As for the driving position, it’s very easy to get comfortable. The steering wheel and seats offer plenty of adjustment, while the seats themselves are supportive – far more so than those in most small SUVs. The only issue is that drivers well over 6ft tall might wish the seat could slide a bit further back

The LBX doesn’t have the highest of driving positions, but you feel significantly higher up from the road than you would in a regular hatchback (or a Skoda Kamiq for that matter) and forward visibility is excellent thanks to narrow windscreen pillars.

To help with tight manoeuvres, all versions come with front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Range-topping Takumi models and the Original Edition add a 360-degree bird's eye view camera.

“I found the interior to be well finished, and features like selectable ambient lighting colours help to make the LBX feel that little bit more special than the Toyota C-HR.” – Stuart Milne, Digital Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Plush-feeling, well-built interior; great driving position; user-friendly infotainment system

Weaknesses Very tall drivers might wish the seat slid further back

Lexus LBX interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

You won't struggle for space in the front of the Lexus LBX. There's plenty of head and leg room to allow taller people to get comfy, plus lots of storage dotted around the interior, including two cupholders, a large central storage cubby and a sizeable shelf below the centre console. The door bins are on the small side, though, as is the glovebox.

However, while you and your front passenger won't have any complaints about space, anyone sitting in the back will feel more cramped. Don't get us wrong, a six-footer will fit – they just might find their heads brushing against the ceiling.

The Audi Q2, and non-premium rivals such as the Skoda Kamiq and the VW T-Roc, have a noticeable amount more head and leg room, so are better bets if you plan to put adults in the back on a regular basis.

Front-wheel-drive versions of the LBX have a respectable 402 litres of boot space. For comparison, equivalent versions of the Q2 have 405 litres of luggage capacity while the T-Roc has 445 litres. We managed to load six carry-on suitcases below the LBX's parcel shelf, the same number we squeezed in the Q2 and one fewer than fitted in the T-Roc.

The space is usefully square in shape, although the lack of a height-adjustable boot floor means there's a big drop down from the boot entrance to the floor of the load bay. It's also worth bearing in mind that four-wheel-drive (AWD) versions of the LBX have a significantly smaller boot, with capacity dropping by around 20% (to 317 litres).

Whichever version you go for, the rear seatback splits and folds in a 60/40 configuration, which is par for the course in the small SUV class. That said, the rear seats in some versions of the closely related Yaris Cross split 40/20/40. The Range Rover Evoque and some versions of the Q2 also offer a more versatile 40/20/40 split.

“The LBX offers less rear leg room than you get in the Toyota C-HR, but it’s not too bad – and there was still plenty of room for my feet. – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of interior storage; good-sized boot; powered tailgate standard on higher trims

Weaknesses Rivals are bigger in the back; rear seats don't do anything clever

Red Lexus LBX boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Lexus LBX is currently the only regular hybrid small SUV offered by a premium brand. It’s impressive, then, that the starting price is roughly on a par with the petrol-powered Audi Q2, while even the most expensive version of the LBX undercuts the cheapest Range Rover Evoque.

Entry-level Urban trim isn't too Spartan, coming with 17in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

However, we'd recommend going for at least Premium trim, which adds heated front seats, faux-leather upholstery, tinted rear windows, a wireless phone-charging pad, ambient interior lighting and automatic wipers.

Our favourite trim is mid-rung Premium Plus trim; this is still respectably priced but adds some desirable extras, including the 12.3in digital driver’s display, a head-up display, keyless entry, a powered tailgate and an interior air purification system called Nanoe X Technology.

If you're looking to maximise on creature comforts, Takumi trim includes a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, powered driver’s seat adjustment (with memory function), multi-colour ambient interior lighting and LED headlights that can be left on main beam and will automatically shape the light they emit to avoid dazzling other drivers.

Or there's the top-of-the-range Original Edition, which is based on the Takumi but adds Sonic Copper paintwork, matt black 18in wheels and dedicated badging.

However, the price of these range-topping versions is a little too close to bigger and better alternatives, such as the Evoque, for us to heartily recommend. But whichever trim you choose, remember to check the latest prices and available discounts on our New Car Deals pages.

If you're prepared to consider a small SUV without a premium badge, it's worth checking out the Ford Puma and VW T-Roc. Like for like, both are cheaper options for private cash buyers or anyone signing up to a PCP finance agreement. That said, the LBX's lower CO2 emissions (from just 105g/km) makes it very competitive for company car drivers paying benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax.

No matter how you're buying, you'll appreciate the LBX's spectacular fuel economy. Officially, the front-wheel-drive version can average 62.7mpg, compared with 47.9mpg for the Q2 35 TFSI and 47.1mpg for the T-Roc 1.5 TSI. Of course, none of these figures will be easy to achieve in real-world driving, but the LBX should comfortably return 50-55mpg unless you have a particularly heavy right foot.

All versions of the LBX have automatic emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and road sign recognition. Upgrade to Premium trim and you'll also get blind-spot monitoring and a system that alerts you to dangers when reversing out on to road.

Takumi trim adds an Advanced Safety Pack, bringing further aids including a system that can perform lane changes automatically on a motorway.

We can't tell you how well the LBX is likely to protect you and your family in an accident, though, because at the time of writing Euro NCAP hadn't completed its testing. 

Likewise, the LBX was too new to have featured in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, although Lexus as a brand came top out of 32 car makers ranked – and has been in first place for the past few years.

“I achieved a fantastic real-world economy figure of 51.3mpg in the LBX” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Competitive pricing; very well equipped; superb official fuel economy; Lexus’s reliability record

Weaknesses Upper trims get expensive; no Euro NCAP safety rating at the time of writing

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Lexus LBX interior infotainment

FAQs

  • Most versions of the LBX are front-wheel driven, but you can pay extra for four-wheel drive if you go for the most expensive Takumi and Takumi Design trims.

  • No – the LBX is available only as a regular hybrid. Regular hybrids are cheaper to buy than plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and you don't need to plug them in to charge their batteries, although PHEVs can travel far longer distances on electric power alone and normally cost less to run as company cars.

  • LBX stands for Lexus Breakthrough Crossover (X has come to represent "cross" in Toyota and Lexus branding). 

  • There aren't many small SUVs with a premium badge. The Audi Q2 is the LBX's closest rival, but that isn't available as a hybrid.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £395
Target Price from £29,706
Save up to £395
or from £331pm
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Nearly new deals
From £30,750
RRP price range £29,995 - £40,555
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid
MPG range across all versions 58.8 - 62.7
Available doors options 5
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,428 / £2,096
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,856 / £4,193
Available colours