Lexus LBX First Impressions: Smaller Size, Bigger Promise
Vogue Partnerships

The New Lexus LBX First Impressions: Smaller Size, Bigger Promise

Photo by Karlo Torio

Compact never felt so grand

Hopping between cities by the day, and partying in the club all night long. Everyone is still on the move, especially the young folks who are still taking back the outdoors to make up for lost time in their twenties or thirties. But how are you getting around town? For nightcaps with friends, taking the too-spacious family van or the two-tonne pick-up truck can make maneuvering city traffic or parking in those tight slots at roadside bars a chore. Weekend getaways, on the other hand, will need more than the cherished family sedan to fit all your bags and equipment, like camping gear for nature trails in the far east, or swimming gear for the northern shores. That is why year over year, the crossover (a cross between full-sized SUVs and sedans) becomes more appealing.

Just last 2023, crossovers took over spots in the ten best-selling cars in the Philippines, outnumbering SUVs and tying sedans. And in this bustling crossover market, a new model from a respected name might have just ticked all the boxes a yuppie looks for in a daily driver: functional, economical, and undeniably stylish.

Lexus invited Vogue Philippines for an early look at the new Lexus LBX, the Japanese brand’s newest definition of modest luxury. LBX stands for “Lexus Breakthrough Crossover,” and as we experienced more of the car, it became clearer why “breakthrough” was an apt name for this next-generation vehicle.

Let’s get these two crucial points across first: the LBX is the smallest car to date to carry a Lexus badge, and is the only vehicle currently offered by Lexus Philippines at a sub-3M price. These immediately make it attractive to first-time car owners, or to families who would want a luxuriously convenient addition to their garage. It’s still a full-blooded Lexus through and through, with features that you would expect in a more prestigious model, but in a compact size that puts the driving experience first.

Drive it your way

Add this to the list of why the LBX is a true breakthrough for the brand: the newest compact SUV offers more personalization options than any other Lexus model, perfect for the style-obsessed. Its exterior comes in a bi-tone paintwork, with blacked-out pillars and roof, and your choice of a main body color. Keep it simple with neutrals like Silver Metallic, Sonic Chrome, Sonic Quartz, and Astro Gray Metallic. The Sonic Copper option, however, looks the most striking. But if you want to go bold, you can’t go wrong with Passionate Yellow, Red Spinel, or Deep Azure Mica Metallic. 

Photo by Karlo Torio

Even if complete bespoke styling such as selecting seat materials and interior colors isn’t available locally yet, the Takumi (Lexus’s world-famous artisan craftspeople) made sure every trim, detail, and finish remains exquisite.

Party for one?

Despite the LBX being designed with a younger driver in mind, thanks to its advanced tech and the no-frills Lexus Driving Signature, there are just three oddities that go against what the young millennial demographic may want in a car.

Firstly, the LBX isn’t for big parties. Sure, it’s comfortable enough to carry along a partner or maybe a couple more for a double date, but maybe not the entire gang.

Second, having a curated playlist of car tunes and a drinking bottle or flask nearby are textbook “Gen Z driver” things. While the stock sound profile in the LBX leaves a lot to be desired, it’s nothing the built-in equalizer can’t remedy. Avid to-go coffee drinkers will enjoy the cup holders at the front—one right above the gear stick and the one hidden underneath the center console. However, they may not fit wider steel flasks, such as those 24ox and up, that have become all the rage.

Photo by Karlo Torio

Lastly, a heads up to the creative professionals: transporting equipment like lighting rigs or canvases would mean knocking down the back seats for a wider trunk space. There’s plenty of room if you’re just stacking suitcases of clothes or boxes of tools, though.

Shockingly smooth

The driving experience of the LBX makes up for these little caveats, though. What makes the LBX truly satisfying to drive is its self-charging hybrid electric system, letting you enjoy the power of gasoline and the efficiency of electricity, seamlessly switching between the two when you need them, all without having to plug in. Lexus has been perfecting hybrid SUVs since 2005, when they launched the world’s first luxury hybrid SUV: the RX 400h. Today, the LBX uses the latest technologies to deliver strong yet comfortable performance.

This was immediately evident upon starting the car—the pure silence of the EV Mode meant no initial emissions, with the engine only kicking in when pulling out of parking. Revving up to around 60 kph along Rockwell Drive was without a hitch, and the regenerative braking system meant the batteries charged when decelerating. Idling keeps the car running on batteries, and even switching to full EV Mode is at the push of a button, maximizing fuel economy while cutting carbon emissions.

Photo by Karlo Torio
Photo by Karlo Torio

The smooth drive was also due in part to the on-board technologies and design choices. Even if the gear stick took a minute to learn, it was intuitive to use. Physical wheel controls and buttons on the center console were a delight to feel, especially in the all-digital age. To top up some phone charge, just set it on the wireless charging mat and forget it. Enabling Android Auto or Apple CarPlay wasn’t the easiest to figure out, but even through Bluetooth, playlists and libraries were easy to navigate through on the center 9.8” display. Leaving the car also showed thoughtful design with an e-Latch that unlocks the door at the push of a lever right where the thumb naturally rests on the door handle.

First impressions last

The Lexus LBX satisfies the craving of luxury intenders and city-smart drivers with a complete package that seems to exceed its class. As mentioned, it proves to be functional with smart systems at your fingertips and no compromises on safety features, economical with a lightweight, compact body built on a hybrid system, and designed to be eye-catching. If serviceability intimidates first-time hybrid car owners, Lexus Philippines offers an eight-year hybrid battery warranty.

The LBX made a great first impression, and its approach to daily driving felt very refreshing. If you’re looking for an excuse to go out more, this is the one to drive.

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