We discover a small car with a big presence in Lexus’ LBX — its launch marking a new era for the legacy brand

When it came time to hand over the keys after a week spent behind the wheel of Lexus’ first-ever LBX, I realised just how much I’d enjoyed driving this car. Zipping around the city can be a somewhat (read: very) stressful affair, given my rambunctious toddler is often along for the ride, but this week I truly enjoyed my time spent navigating the streets of Auckland — even as my daughter made her many demands known from the back seat. 

I’ll admit that these days, given my life of two halves (spent between toddler pick ups, drop offs, and play dates, and navigating the demands of deadlines, meetings, and events), when it comes to my vehicle, two things are essential: practicality and ease. As I took off in the LBX, I quickly realised that I had found the pinnacle of both in one sleek SUV. 

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Setting off in the car for the first time, I was immediately struck by the interior, which felt surprisingly spacious (given the car’s modest size), with carefully considered, luxurious finishes adding a sense of comfort I’ve only ever experienced in ultra high-end vehicles. From the monochromatic seating rendered in leather and Ultrasuede™ to the beautifully soft steering trim, the LBX felt just as plush as many of Lexus’ larger, more pricey models. The dashboard’s design is clean and uncluttered, and the central touchscreen is a great size and simple to use, although given the built-in voice control and wireless Apple CarPlay, I barely touched it at all. The head up display just beyond the steering wheel was new to me, but proved helpful for ensuring my driving speed was in keeping with the local speed limits without taking my eyes off the road ahead. 

“The driver-vehicle connection felt seamless, while the hybrid powertrain featuring a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine, and high-output bipolar hybrid battery made for an efficient drive.”

As I settled into the car and discovered more about its nuances, the superior handling and the smoothness of the driving experience ultimately won me over. While Lexus is known for considered vehicles that offer exceptional drives, the new, luxuriously crafted hybrid LBX takes the marque’s modus operandi to new heights.

Catering to discerning drivers seeking luxury and practicality, this car is perfectly suited to urbanites with an active lifestyle — particularly given the brand’s move towards a more personalised offering in the LBX. In a move away from vehicle ‘grades’, the LBX ushers in Lexus’ ‘moods’ — meaning that the three iterations of the LBX (Active, Cool, and Relax) are tailored to the behaviour and mood of the unique driver — reflecting individual lifestyles and aesthetics.

My LBX was a ‘Cool’ and, as such, looked sleek and sophisticated no matter the angle. An All-Wheel drive with 18” black alloy wheels and a slick exterior combining a low-slung bonnet, aligned roof, and contoured bumper, in this car, the driver-vehicle connection felt seamless, while the hybrid powertrain featuring a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine, and high-output bipolar hybrid battery made for an efficient drive.

The LBX is ultra smooth and comfortable to drive. The hybrid system is near-silent, while the engine, when it does fire up, barely makes a thrum (I had to check more than once whether the car was actually on). From the driver’s seat, you feel high off the road and can barely detect bumps, while the steering, accelerating, and braking were the smoothest I’ve experienced.

When I took to the open road, I found that the LBX also cleverly adjusts acceleration and deceleration based on road conditions, while the All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control function ensures a secure gap from the vehicle in front by matching its speed, adding an extra layer of safety — something that gave me real peace of mind with my daughter in the car. And when it came to slotting myself into many a tricky parallel park on Ponsonby Road, the LBX’s front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera did the heavy lifting for me — the 360-degree bird’s eye view camera adding an extra level of comfort that I now don’t think I can go without. 

Ultimately, what I found in the Lexus LBX was a car perfectly tailored to my current lifestyle. Prioritising comfort, ease, safety, and, yes, style at every turn — from the sleek exterior to the plush interiors, hybrid tech, impeccable handling, practical size, and exterior that exudes style and presence that transcends its size, this is a car made for fast-paced life in the city — offering not only the means to get you from one place to the next, but a moment of reprieve while doing so. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve found my next runabout, the only question is… can I pull off blue?



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