Sub-UX Lexus SUV speculated as an elevated Toyota Yaris Cross

The Lexus UX may not be where Lexus draws the line for an entry-level product. If a recent report from Japan’s Best Car magazine is to be considered, a Lexus hybrid SUV positioned below the compact Lexus UX, riding on a modified Yaris Cross platform, features in the product plan which outlines more than 10 new electrified model launches by 2025.

The sub-UX Lexus hybrid SUV could be the indirect replacement for the Lexus CT hatchback that Autocar had reported on back in May 2019. Pascal Ruch, the Head of Lexus’ European division, reportedly confirmed a model below the Lexus UX during that year’s Geneva Motor Show. Lexus UK boss Ewan Shepherd, Autocar said, had also hinted that year to the British publication of the new entry-level car. At that time, it wasn’t clear if the successor was a hatch or an SUV, but now, Japanese media has received clarity.

As indicated in our exclusive rendering, the sub-UX Lexus hybrid SUV, going by Best Car’s sources, is related to the Toyota Yaris Cross that debuted last year. The compact SUV isn’t coming to the U.S. and Canada, and likewise, we are not certain of the worldwide availability of a sub-UX Lexus car. However one thing is certain. Global cities are becoming congested and with that traffic and parking is increasingly a challenge. The trend to downsize in cities will lead to luxury brands considering entry-level cars (some electric) to tackle these problems. Brands like Smart, Volvo and Mini are developing electrified urban SUVs that are premium and affordable.

Historically, Lexus SUVs have been luxury offshoots of Toyota models and follow two-three years later. The same formula could apply to the smallest Lexus SUV. The Toyota Yaris Cross is available in Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and these regions could be first to receive the Lexus twin.

The sub-UX Lexus hybrid SUV would have a completely different design at the front and rear to be unmistakably Lexus, but the sides could be identical, with just different alloy wheels. Expect some distinctive paint options as well, aimed at giving a more luxurious road presence.

Measuring 4,180 mm (164.6 inches) in length, 1,765 mm (69.5 inches) in width, and 1,590 mm (62.6 inches) in height, the Toyota Yaris Cross is a sub-compact SUV. The B-segment model has a wheelbase of 2,560 mm (100.8 inches). Best Car expects the Lexus offshoot as a slightly longer and wider car, which would duck under the UX.

Launched on August 31, 2020 in Japan, the Yaris Cross is quite popular and outperforming Toyota’s sales projection. Toyota had planned to unveil the Yaris Cross at dealerships on September 26-27, 2020, and expected a modest monthly sale of 4,100 units. Monthly sales have exceeded 6,700 units consistently since the launch, even registering 10,000+ units.

The Yaris Cross is available globally with the 120 kW (118 hp) M15A-FKS 1.5-liter gasoline engine and also a THS II hybrid system w/o E-Four electric 4WD system. The hybrid powertrain employs the M15A-FXE 1.5-liter gasoline unit, with a total power is 85 kW (114 hp). The Lexus version may feature a more powerful hybrid powertrain with the 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, it is speculated.

In markets like Japan and Europe where small SUVs are big sellers, the Lexus hybrid SUV derived from the Toyota Yaris Cross could become a major contributor. The new entry-level Lexus model may arrive in 2023, says the Japanese publication, based on the usual time gap between the past Lexus and Toyota models.

The last time that Lexus brought up the topic of a compact city vehicle was at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015, presenting the Lexus LF-SA concept. At that time it came out that Lexus was not looking to put the car into production and it was a design study meant to explore future urban driving.

Lexus electrification strategy

Lexus plans to release 20 new or upgraded cars by 2025, and more than 10 in the BEV, PHEV, and HEV segments. Every Lexus car, presumably including the flagship SUV Lexus LX, will be electrified either partially or completely by mid-decade.

As the Japanese luxury automaker prepares for the future, it has laid out plans for new vehicle types like cars appropriate for chauffeur driving and models in entirely new categories. The company will inaugurate a new business and technology center in Shimoyama (Aichi prefecture, Japan) in March 2024 for speeding up the planning and development of new products that are set to arrive from the second half of the decade.

Entry-level Lexus hybrid SUV FAQs

What is the sub-UX Lexus hybrid SUV release date?

As per Best Car, Lexus could showcase the sub-UX hybrid SUV in Fall 2022, and launch it in 2023.

Which models will be the sub-UX Lexus hybrid SUV competitors?

Lexus’ small SUV will compete with the Audi Q2 and the DS 3 Crossback.