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Downsize Surprise: 2024 Lexus LBX Relax AWD Review

In the world of luxury vehicles, Lexus offers a rather unique proposition. Its parent company is Toyota, famed for making reliable and affordable cars, this being both a plus and minus. The lines between the two brands have occasionally been blurred to great extents with certain Lexus platforms being underpinned by that of Toyota’s. However, if resale values are anything to go by, these grey areas have contributed to the brand’s cars holding their value rather well.

On the other hand, you have the part of Lexus that is slightly more daring. Remember that they are also responsible for creations like the ISF, GSF, RCF and of course the completely ludicrous LFA supercar. The gorgeous LC tourer is in there somewhere too. But what happens when you combine Lexus’ sensible side with the part of the brand that is a little less so?

Front three quarters view of a Lexus LBX Relax AWD in Concrete Grey with a misty background of bare trees and Lake Karapiro.
LBX is only the second ever Lexus with a three letter moniker!

You get the LBX of course, an even more intriguing proposition from a brand that is already the thinkers luxury car of choice. The name itself is a rather unique one for starters, it is only the second Lexus model to have a three letter name, the LFA being the other. If this wasn’t bold enough, the VIN plate states the manufacturing is done in a Toyota facility and then you have the advertising material. With a base price of $58,900, it is not only a new entry point to the brand but also their smallest vehicle ever! On paper then, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what the LBX actually is. All of this underpinned by the question of whether it’s really a Lexus. With the lines blurred on this small SUV, it’s time for some thinking!

Rear three quarters view of a 2024 Lexus LBX Relax AWD in Concrete Grey.
Signature Lexus styling cues are present all over!

While the LBX can be noted for sharing its platform with a Toyota product, that’s about where the sharing ends from a user interaction point of view. The styling itself is classic Lexus, the sculped panels, door mirrors and distinctive lighting signatures are particularly noteworthy. Even in this ‘Concrete’ colour, it invited curious glimpses from people passing by, although the freshness of the LBX nameplate may be to blame for that too!

The half ‘spindle grille’ at the front is an absolute magnet for insects on a long trip while the stylish but conservatively sized alloy wheels keep the cabin quiet on the same. Like the front, the rear of the car also exudes Lexus with the large light strip and distinctive badging making it identifiable as part of the brand’s SUV family. However, calling it an SUV is a stretch with this being as compact as the definition will go! Measuring in at 4.19m in length, 1.56 in height and 1.825 in width, it’s more so reflective of a hatchback in its dimensions but with that desirable raised driving position!

Interior view of a 2024 Lexus LBX Relax AWD.
Cabin offers luxurious touches dispersed throughout!

It’s on the inside where the LBX Relax AWD really impresses. The seats for one are very comfortable and supportive, leaving me feeling refreshed even after driving 430kms within a day. Doing the same trip a week later in a car with less lumbar support has certainly taught me the value of supportive seats and the LBX delivers in this respect. The material choices are good too, just the right smattering of soft touches in all the right places, this is Lexus at its best!

Fit and finish is very good too with the brand’s hallmark silent window operation working wonders to show you how quiet the cabin really is! Fear not though as you can always turn the volume up on that 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and ‘Enjoy the Silence’, although the audio system was slightly amiss from the systems we’ve come to know the brand for. Otherwise, the LBX is certainly well equipped with the two front seats featuring heating and ventilating too while the driver can enjoy a heated steering wheel for those winter mornings.

Once on the road, the LBX delivers a comfortable drive all around whether on smooth tarmac or the more commonly found open pore roads we have in New Zealand. The adaptive cruise control works particularly well for longer motorway journeys but it does get annoying when the ‘Intuitive Drive Force Control’ kicks in. This system adjusts the acceleration and deceleration (mainly) for windy roads and I found it often having too little faith in itself and the driver when going around corners.

The adaptive cruise control may err on the side of caution but this is very much in keeping with the brand’s attitudes towards safety, the various systems working in the background to keep the occupants safe at all times. Speaking of which, the LBX handles really well, tempting the driver to push it around windier roads, meaning that said occupants may be safe in the LBX but there’s no guarantees on a sick-free drive!

The combination of its front mounted engine and rear mounted battery particularly assist the LBX in its road holding ability. 100kw of power and 120Nm of torque from a 1.5L hybrid assisted motor mean the car has sufficient pulling power for a family vehicle. However, where the LBX really shines is in its economy and maneuverability. The former seeing a claimed figure of 3.8L/100km. During my long motorway drive with the AC, seat heater and audio on, I managed 5.2L/100km with a passenger in tow too! What else can I say, I’m impressed.

Side view of a 2024 Lexus LBX Relax AWD in Concrete Grey with bare trees, misty skies and Lake Karapiro in the background.

The Verdict

Yes, the LBX might be the smallest car to emerge from Lexus’ stables but it delivers in bucketloads. First off, it feels like a proper Lexus in its finishing and build quality. You get a plethora of bells and whistles on this AWD Relax model, though I’d pick a more expressive colour personally. Last of all, it is both compact and economical, making it an appealing luxury prospect for city dwellers.

2024 Lexus LBX Relax AWD: 4/5

Thanks for reading! For more Lexus news and reviews, visit Tarmac Life.

Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza. Car courtesy of Lexus New Zealand.

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