Lexus Debuts Entry-Level Hybrid CUV for Urbanites

Lexus has unveiled its smallest self-charging hybrid CUV to date with the entry-level LBX.

Measuring just 13.7ft long, 5.98ft wide and 5ft high and with a 8.46ft wheelbase, the LBX is clearly targeting urban consumers who do not have the charging ability to consider BEVs. Despite its entry-level status, Lexus promises that it makes no compromises in quality and attention to detail.

It is powered by a new generation hybrid electric system featuring a compact and lightweight 1.5-liter gasoline three-cylinder engine. The principal hybrid system components have undergone a substantial redesign, including the transaxle and power control unit, to improve efficiency, reduce losses, save weight and reduce size. Maximum output from the full hybrid system is a claimed 134bhp with peak torque of 136ft-lbs.

The engine operates with high-speed combustion technology and design features such as straight intake ports and laser-clad intake valve seats. Other key contributors include ultra-lightweight pistons engineered for operation at high rpm and electronic intelligent variable valve-timing.

A revised power control unit is mounted directly above the transaxle. The transaxle itself has a new design which helps give the LBX a low bonnet line. Further space is saved by the two motor-generators being located on separate shafts, reducing the drivetrain’s overall length.

The NiMH battery is an all-new bi-polar unit with reduced weight and a more compact design, yet it delivers higher output with much quicker response boosting performance. It also benefits from a redesigned cooling system to help prolong battery life and performance.

It claims off-road ability with the option of Lexus’ E-Four all-wheel drive, which introduces an additional electric motor on the rear axle. When pulling away, cornering and driving on low-grip surfaces, the system automatically directs drive force to the rear wheels, helping keep the vehicle stable. Prices to be announced later in the year.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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