LBX Will Be the Most Affordable Lexus in Its Modern Lineup
Lexus previews upcoming LBX compact crossover, slated for Europe as the automaker's smallest offering.
The LBX is expected to be based heavily on the Toyota Yaris Cross, offered in a number of foreign markets with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder hybrid.
The new model is expected to be an indirect successor to the CT200h, which was Lexus' most compact offering, positioned even below the UX.
Finding a compact car from a luxury or non-luxury brand isn't easy these days, as automakers have largely shied away from what were once considered commuter cars. Take a stroll through any dealer lot—even Mini—and you'll see that many automakers have opted for more generous profit margins on more generously sized offerings.
But later this year, Lexus will take the wraps off its smallest crossover, if not its smallest model ever.
Dubbed the Lexus LBX, the pocket crossover is set to be revealed June 5, and as you've guessed by now, it's not a clean-sheet design but rather a version of something else in Toyota's deep global lineup. The LBX is expected to be based on the Toyota Yaris Cross, which itself fell victim to the crossover craze at some point as its name suggests, but stayed in Europe. So in effect this model will continue the brand's long tradition of subtly restyling Toyota models, which, a generation ago, gave us the JDM Camry-based Lexus ES 250.
The good news, at least for those markets that will receive the LBX, is that it will be the most affordable Lexus in its modern lineup, picking up the baton from the Prius-based CT 200h hybrid.
The automaker has shared a few teaser renderings of the LBX, previewing a model that will likely employ a hybridized 1.5-liter three-cylinder from the Yaris Cross underhood, paired with a CVT or even a six-speed manual.
When it comes to design, one major departure from modern Lexus vehicles will be the grille, which won't feature the familiar spindle trapezoid adorning Lexus front ends for the past decade. The teaser images shared by Lexus reveal something far more subtle without a contrasting black color, with the Lexus logo also migrating to the hood. That's quite a big departure when it comes to recent Lexus front fascia designs.
For the moment, the LBX is headed just to Europe, where its dimensions and modest powertrain will make much more sense than in Lexus USA headquarters' home state of Texas, among other locations.
But is it something that could make sense stateside, given the relative dearth of small car options and ever-growing MSRPs, assuming it carries over the Yaris Cross' 1.5-liter powertrain, good for 116 hp?
That's perhaps a bridge too far for Lexus' current US plans, with the automaker being careful to project an image of luxury even among its most affordable offerings. But it's also a segment that Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Infiniti have explored with more robust powertrains, with varying degrees of success.
We'll see the Lexus LBX in the metal on June 5, which should give us a better idea of how it might do stateside.
Should Lexus offer the LBX stateside, or could it be too small and too underpowered for Lexus buyers? Let us know in the comments below.