A number of years in gestation, the Lexus LBX is nearly ready to greet the world — in Europe, at least. Across the Atlantic, most expect the LBX to go on sale as the luxury version of the Toyota Yaris Cross. Frankly, with the Yaris Cross already squat and chunky, Lexus doesn’t have a long row to hoe in effecting the lines we’re used to seeing on the compact UX and NX. Lexus’ subcompact crossover will be the new entry-level vehicle in the lineup there and the successor to the CT 200h. That’s right, the CT 200h, the compact hybrid hatch that left our market in 2017 but remained on sale in other parts of the world until exiting production in 2022.
Rumors have it the automaker will use the LBX to introduce a revised design language. Lexus Enthusiast picked the LBX out of a crowd of concepts when the brand showed its plans under the Lexus Is Electric banner in December 2021. That rendering and this grille teaser show a new front fascia is a possible outcome. The spindle is gone, swapped for what some are calling a “bowtie.” The teaser reveals a traditional lower intake, no upper intake, and the Lexus “L” logo moved to the hood. A full-width ornamental piece across the front makes a cosmetic connection to the full-width LED taillight.
If the Yaris Cross donates its powertrain as well, the LBX’s clamshell hood will cover a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine with a small electric motor adding 79 horsepower. Output would get sent from there to a continuously variable transmission.
Lexus will debut the LBX on June 5 from Milan, Italy. Some observers have taken the meager updates given to the Lexus UX for 2024 as a sign that the UX is on borrowed time, and that the LBX will replace the UX as well. We’ll find out more from Italy. Now matter how much work the LBX has to do for the home team, its competition will be premium subcompact crossovers like the Volkswagen T-Cross and loaded trims of the Honda HR-V.