2024 Lexus LBX review: Australian first drive

The smallest vehicle Lexus has ever produced is hybrid-powered and comes in under $50,000. Does this luxury small SUV – which is based upon the same platform as the Toyota Yaris Cross – stack up?

What we love
  • Improved, enjoyable driving experience
  • Some nice interior touches and materials
  • Capable of being very efficient around town
What we don’t
  • petrol engine can drone when working hard on the open road
  • Second row is tight, and is missing air vents
  • All-wheel drive model gets a conspicuously small boot

It’s a small car, but the Lexus LBX represents a big move for the luxury Japanese brand. The brand has built its reputation upon the successful V8-powered saloons and off-roaders of the 1990s and 2000s, but increasingly Lexus uses hybrid technology as its point of difference in a fiercely competitive luxury market.

But to chase a bigger slice of the Australian new car pie, Lexus is going small with the LBX. Using a platform and components shared with the Toyota Yaris Cross light SUV, this LBX is the smallest car on record for Lexus.

It’s also aimed at a younger audience, somebody with perhaps fewer greys on the scalp and possibly fewer dollars in the bank account.

The starting price is alluring, so is the cost of ownership. So is the Lexus LBX the perfect city car for those who want a pragmatic touch of premium?

With a starting price of $47,550 plus on-road costs, the 2024 Lexus LBX is the new entry-level model in the lineup. The slightly larger UX small SUV still exists, and for 2024 switches to a hybrid and EV-only range starting from $55,370, dropping cheaper non-hybrid petrol models in the process.

But this LBX certainly feels new and fresh, compared to the UX. It also offers lower running costs, thanks to the 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain.

Standard equipment in the entry-level LBX Luxury includes the hybrid powertrain in front-wheel drive guise, NuLux synthetic leather interior trimming, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, wireless phone charging and a powered tailgate.

There’s also a 9.8-inch infotainment display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, six-speaker sound system, rear privacy glass, and electric adjustment for the driver’s seat.

The top-spec LBX Sports Luxury starts from $52,990 plus on-road costs and adds leather accenting and Ultrasuede interior trimming, along with a premium leather steering wheel and shifter. There’s also paddle shifters, interior ambient lighting, a different design for the 18-inch wheels, a head-up display, automatic parking, and active noise cancelling.

The sound system gets upgraded to a 13-speaker Mark Levinson-branded setup, and the steering wheel gets haptic-style buttons.

The 1.5-litre, three-cylinder hybrid powertrain is standard across the range, and there’s no option of any other powertrain for the LBX currently.

Sports Luxury can also be had as an all-wheel drive model, with a modestly powered rear motor (4.7kW/52Nm) joining the fray at the rear. This means the rear suspension changes from a torsion beam to a more sophisticated double wishbone setup, but boot space drops from 402 to 315 litres.

Stepping up to the Sports Luxury AWD costs an extra $4000, but despite the extra rear motor, Lexus doesn’t quote any increase in overall (combined) power outputs.

Key details 2024 Lexus LBX
Price LBX Luxury 2WD – $47,550
LBX Sports Luxury 2WD – $52,990
LBX Sports Luxury AWD – $56,990
Note: all prices are before on-road costs
Colours available Sonic Quartz
Sonic Chrome
Sonic Copper
Frozen Mercury
Moonstone Shadow
Rich Ruby
Citrine Flare
Midnight Sapphire
Rivals Audi Q2 | Volvo XC40 | BMW X1

The Lexus LBX is slightly smaller than the UX small SUV in terms of footprint, but is slightly taller. In comparison to the cheaper Toyota Yaris Cross, it’s bigger in every direction, including a 20mm bump in the wheelbase.

At not much more than four metres long, don’t expect the Lexus LBX to be a big car. And probably don’t look at this model as a possible family car.

You’ll notice this mostly in the second row, where there isn’t a whole lot of space on offer. With me in the back (sitting behind my own driving position) I had just enough legroom to not be scraping the seats with my knees. I’m just under six foot tall, and sit relatively close to the steering wheel. So taller adults will have more issues.

There are also no air vents in the second row, which seems to be incongruous with the luxury labelling of this Lexus. Nor is there any fold-down armrest or cup holder, save for space for one bottle in each of the rear doors. You do have two USB-C power outlets, however.

Up front, the LBX feels nicer and more compelling as a premium offering. It looks sharp, without feeling overdone or chintzy. Ultrasuede on the dashboard and doors of the Sports Luxury models are quite nice, and there is plenty of attention to detail in the corners and a solid sense of build quality.

The size of the vehicle can be felt through the narrowness of the centre console and you’ll notice there isn’t a whole lot of storage on offer. One cup holder lives out in the open, while another lives within the lidded centre console, which has an interesting slide-and-tilt function in its opening.

The cavity underneath is where you’ll stick your purse or small handbag mostly, and you’ll find USB-C and 12V power in this area as well. And with two additional USB-C points up on top, you’ll well covered for charging your devices.

There’s a small spot to whack your keyfob and a wireless charging pad up front, but this would only accept small smartphones without hanging out noticably into the gear shifter area. My phone is reasonably large, and it looked strange at how much it stuck out.

The boot of the LBX isn’t great, and is particularly small when you have the top-spec all-wheel drive model. There’s enough for a few big bags of groceries in there, but not a whole lot more. And if you want to prioritise boot space, look at the front-wheel drive models.

2024 Lexus LBX
Seats Five
Boot volume 402L seats up (2WD)
315L seats up (AWD)
994L seats folded (2WD)
AWD seats folded capacity not provided
Length 4190mm
Width 1825mm
Height 1560mm
Wheelbase 2580mm

Does the Lexus LBX have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

A 9.8-inch infotainment display in the LBX is a relatively new bit of hardware for the juggernaut that is Toyota and Lexus, and it looks quite sharp on the dashboard of the LBX. This has wired and wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, native navigation, as well as digital radio reception.

The operating system is nice with a bright and sharp display, good response to inputs, and fast loading times. It’s a simple setup, not dripping with features and complexity. But it’s also effective.

The Lexus LBX also gets access to Lexus Connected Services, with a complimentary three-year subscription coming with the purchase of the car. This works with a companion app and allows for vehicle location, remote climate controls, and picking out your vehicle in a chock-full car park, plus allows over-the-air updates.

Beyond the vehicle, this LBX also comes with a subscription to Lexus Encore, which is a three-year subscription to the ‘lifestyle program’ that comes with a variety of different owner benefits.

Is the Lexus LBX a safe car?

Being a relatively new model for Australia, the Lexus LBX is yet to be crash-tested by ANCAP.

2024 Lexus LBX
ANCAP rating Untested

What safety technology does the Lexus LBX have?

Typical of Lexus vehicles, the LBX comes with a comprehensive suite of active and passive safety technology. This includes well-tuned and attentive driver assistance features like lane trace assistance (Lexus’ term for lane centring), blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. The traffic sign recognition seems to be mostly accurate, and the 360-degree camera system is high quality.

And because things like lane-keep assistance, traffic sign recognition and the driver monitoring system is relatively well tuned and not overly intrusive, you don’t feel the urge to turn them all off.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Yes Includes cyclist, pedestrian (day/night), motorcycle (day), junction detection and steering assistance
Adaptive Cruise Control Yes With curve speed reduction
Blind Spot Alert Yes
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert Yes With parking support brake
Lane Assistance Yes Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Centring Assist
Road Sign Recognition Yes Speed signs only
Driver Attention Warning Yes Camera-based with emergency driving stop system
Cameras & Sensors Yes Front and rear sensors, 360-degree camera

How much does the Lexus LBX cost to run?

Lexus offers five years of capped-price servicing for the LBX, which costs $595 per visit and is required every 12 months or 15,000km. This brings a five-year total to $2975 and for 75,000 kilometres travelled. This makes it more than twice the price in comparison to the mechanically similar Toyota Yaris Cross small SUV.

Although, it’s worth noting here that Lexus ownership and servicing does come with benefits that include pick up and drop off, as well as a complimentary loan vehicle. So that extra spend is going somewhere.

Ownership also includes three years access to Lexus Encore, an ownership benefits program that includes fuel discounts, and a range of offers and events. Owners can also upgrade to Encore Elevate which adds airport lounge access, valet parking offers, and access to on-demand loan vehicles.

Insurance for a top-spec LBX Sports Luxury AWD comes to $2623 per year, based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male, living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance 2024 Lexus LBX
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Battery warranty Ten years, unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $2975 (5 years)

Is the Lexus LBX fuel efficient?

A claimed fuel consumption of 3.8 litres per hundred kilometres for the Lexus LBX is impressive, and something that would have probably been written off as a typo a decade ago. Against that claim, we came within around 1 litre of matching it, with a number that sat at 5.0 litres per hundred kilometres consumed. This was during a road test that included a lot of open road and highway driving.

As is typical of hybrids, the claim of efficiency around town can actually be slightly lower than highway driving, thanks to the abilities of the hybrid powertrain to harvest energy under coasting and braking situations and redeploy the harvested power to the electric drivetrain. So if you have gentle accelerator inputs and read the traffic in order to improve efficiency, you will be able to get impressive numbers from the Lexus LBX.

While the ‘M15A-FXE’ 1.5-litre petrol engine from Toyota is a relatively new design, it is still set up to run on regular 91-octane unleaded fuel, which can trim down running costs slightly. And despite getting a modest bump in overall outputs in comparison to the Toyota Yaris Cross, consumption stays steady between the two.

Fuel efficiency 2024 Lexus LBX
Fuel cons. (claimed) 3.8L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 5.0L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane unleaded
Fuel tank size 36L

What is the Lexus LBX like to drive?

The hybrid powertrain is more efficient around the suburbs and cities, and the Lexus LBX feels like a much more compelling offering in these environments. The electric drive does a good amount of initial take-off and coasting on its own, and the three-cylinder engine demurely joins in with little fuss and interruption.

But on the open road, the same engine can get a little noisy and thrashy as it works to overtake or climb a mountain pass. Three-cylinder engines can be some of the most characterful and engaging motors for a driver’s car, but it doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the quiet, luxury pretensions of this LBX.

While based on the drivetrain from the Toyota Yaris Cross, the LBX has a more powerful system with 100kW of combined power, compared to 85kW in the Yaris Cross.

Overall acceleration is good enough for the job, without feeling particularly fast. The blending of electric and petrol power is typically seamless, as you would expect of a company that has been crafting this kind of powertrain for decades now.

Perhaps most importantly for this little Lexus LBX, it does feel like a shrunk-down Lexus in terms of the driving experience. The steering feels more solid and direct, owing to a stiffer body and the setup of the electric steering system.

And while the hybrid engine not a scintillating companion for twisty roads, the LBX is a composed and fun companion to link up your favourite bends. Direction changes are handled well, and the vehicle tracks confidently against g-forces.

Ride quality is good as well, imbuing a similarly solid feeling to the little Lexus, It doesn’t pogo and skate across rough surfaces like a small car, but instead soaks up surfaces with confidence and control.

Key details 2024 Lexus LBX
Engine 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol hybrid
Power 67kW @ 5500rpm (petrol)
69kW (front electric motor)
4.7kW (rear electric motor, AWD only)
100kW combined
Torque 120Nm from 3800-4800rpm (petrol)
185Nm (front electric motor)
52Nm (rear electric motor, AWD only)
No peak combined torque figure offered
Drive type front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Transmission CVT automatic
Weight (kerb) 1330kg (2WD)
1415kg (AWD)
Spare tyre type Tyre repair kit
Payload 445kg (2WD)
405kg (AWD)
Tow rating 400kg
Turning circle 11.2m

Lexus gives the LBX small SUV a 400kg towing capacity, without any distinction between braked and unbraked trailers. This means while the vehicle technically can tow a small amount, it’s low enough that will preclude it’s suitability for anything beyond a small, empty trailer. For example, some regular-sized 6×4 box trailers could weigh up to 300kg before you fill them up with stuff, so you could easily overload the capacity of the LBX.

Should I buy a Lexus LBX?

Lexus is aiming this LBX small SUV at a younger audience than normal, and I can see the appeal. If you want something small and easy to live with, but also with some nice touches, then this car hits a lot of the right notes. While opting for a similar Toyota will inevitably be lighter on the hip pocket, you can see where the extra money goes in this LBX to improve the interior, driving, and ownership experience.

And let’s face it, a garden-variety hybrid Toyota isn’t exactly a cheap vehicle these days to start with.

Don’t buy this car if you’re planning on loading up and hitting the road regularly on weekend jaunts, the LBX is fun but feels less at home on the open road. But have a closer look if you need something efficient but a little extra for daily driving and nipping around town.

How do I buy a Lexus LBX? The next steps.

We reckon that spending up on an LBX isn’t necessarily the best way to go, and buyers should look at either of the front-wheel drive variants as the pick of the range. The extra kit and nicer materials of the Sports Luxury are nice to have, but the base model still looks and feels good.

The Lexus LBX is already on sale, and an initial wave of floor stock has already arrived at dealerships. Lexus is expecting to bring in around 1500 examples of the LBX over the next 12 months, but the strength of demand in Australia will dictate scarcity of stock.

But if you want to order a particular trim level or colour, expect to wait around two to four months for that order to be fulfilled.

The next steps on the purchase journey are to check the Lexus website for stock of your preferred LBX variant. You can also find Lexus cars for sale at Drive Cars For Sale.

We strongly recommend taking a test drive at a dealership before committing because personal needs and tastes can differ. We’d also recommend test-driving the BMW X1 which comes in at a higher price point, but is worth consideration, or if compact size is key, the Audi Q2 may also warrant a look.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

Ratings Breakdown

Lexus UX

7.6/ 10

Infotainment & Connectivity

Interior Comfort & Packaging


Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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