Breaking through: 2024 Lexus LBX first look

Lexus enjoys one of the most loyal customer bases in the premium segment, and for the most part, the Japanese luxury carmaker is happy with that. However, as the brand is set for growth, they must change their attitude to win new segments, and in particular, a segment they haven’t played in until now.

Its name says it all: Lexus Breakthrough Crossover or LBX. Just as the last Lexus model to wear a three-letter name, the LFA supercar, the Lexus LBX shows a different vibe to the otherwise conservative brand. As a gateway or entry point to Lexus’s range, the carmaker had to re-think what luxury means while also catering to the evolving lifestyle requirements of its customers, both current and potential.

At the LBX’s core is the GA-B platform—something it shares with the European Yaris Cross and GR Yaris. Its hip point is low—285 mm—giving drivers a feel that’s more sedan-like than SUV, with their legs extended rather than upright. Lexus engineers didn’t stop there. For its duty in the LBX, the wheelbase has been lengthened (+20 mm) and its tracks widened (+60 mm) to ensure the control, comfort, and confidence of the Lexus Driving Signature. Furthermore, the platform’s been reinforced to improve its solidity. At the same time, the use of aluminum panels and molded resin helps cut the weight. These modifications aside, its packaging remains tidy with an overall length of just 4,190 mm and a width of 1,825 mm. Its tight, 5.2 m turning radius and 220 mm ground clearance makes short work of maneuvering in tight confines without worrying about potentially high curbs.

From there, the LBX receives Lexus’s smallest self-charging full hybrid system. The 1.5-liter 3-cylinder alone delivers world-class thermal efficiency, but here, it’s backed up by a compact, yet punchy hybrid system. The electric motor delivers 17 percent better output than conventional units of the same size resulting in a peak 136 horsepower. This helps it achieve a 0 to 100 km/h sprint of just 9.2 seconds and a fuel efficiency rating reaching up to 22.72 km/L. Energy is stored in a clever bi-polar nickel metal hydride (NiMH) hybrid battery. The entire battery pack is all accommodated beneath the rear seats avoiding any loss of cabin or cargo space. Speaking of cargo space, at 402 liters, it can fit two suitcases beneath the tonneau cover.

Aiming to capture a different demographic, Lexus had to reinterpret the LBX’s design too. The most significant aspect is how the spindle grille has been broken up and then reunified to incorporate the slim headlight units and the one-piece chrome molding. The headlights themselves still feature the distinctive L-shape, but inverted to face out rather than inwards. The frameless grille extends to the body and lends it its strong and planted stance. The rear itself is inspired by a surprising source: the Kagami-Mochi rice cakes. A traditional Japanese religious offering during the New Year, these are made of two discs—one small one set on top of a larger one.

Inside, Lexus designers sought to create a minimalist, yet refined interior that mimics the feel of a higher segment model. The principal controls and information sources are positioned immediately around the driver so operation is done with little or no distraciton. A new 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster, Lexus’s first, is placed in front, while a 9.8-inch touchscreen with an anti-reflective coating serves as the infotainment interface. Smartphone connectivity is done via wired or wireless connection, while the 13-speaker Mark Levinson delivers an accurate and full-bodied aural experience. Changeable interior lighting—50 colors in 14 groups—further add to the welcoming feel.

Realizing that personalization and bespoke experiences is the new luxury, Lexus has taken a new approach in building the LBX’s model range. Instead of the traditional linear grades, it will be offered in a choice of Atmospheres. Equipment is simplified and instead, the focus turns on expressing themes—be it refined, dynamic, or sporty. This is done through styling details, colors, textures, and finishes.

With the LBX, Lexus challenges the conventional concept of what a luxury car is. The resulting crossover is one that’s accessible and easy to live with, in tune with contemporary style thinking that combines high quality with a casual feel. Above all, it offers much more than one might expect from a car in its class by making no compromise in qualities that has defined Lexus: craftsmanship and Omotenashi. The LBX is the first Lexus model to be manufactured at the Iwate plant in eastern Japan. Production has already started with a Philippine launch pegged during the first quarter of 2024. 

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