By on May 14, 2020


Lexus hasn’t been quiet about its need for crossovers. The brand went into the fad (it can’t last forever) underprepared with a fleet largely comprised of sedans; now it’s rumored to be developing a sub-$30,000 product following the launch of its subcompact UX model.

While a little surprising that Toyota’s luxury arm would pursue such a modestly priced vehicle, especially since it previously said cheap cars were a nonstarter, itty-bitty crossovers are in fashion right these days— and probably a good way to increase sales volume in select markets. Such a car would also give Lexus an opportunity add another model with a smaller-than-average carbon footprint, pleasing government regulators.

Serving as the basis for this hypothetical model will be the Toyota Yaris Cross. The Lexus allegedly carries the BX name and will serve as an unlikely candidate for the North American landscape. It may, however, see action in Europe and Asia if the manufacturer decides to pull the trigger. 

Right now, all we have are preliminary reports from AutoHome China suggesting such a model is in the works, tied to the lifted version of the Euro-spec Yaris. While some details were bound to be lost in translation, the outlet suggests the BX would lift the 1.5-liter hybrid powertrain directly from that model. That means a tepid 115 horsepower when combined with two synchronous AC motors.

There’s also mention of an F Sport variant, though we couldn’t even begin to postulate on what might lurk beneath its hood. The assumed hybrid powertrain sets a fairly low bar, leaving us wondering if Lexus will bother giving us something worthy of the badge. Up until recently, Lexus/Toyota’s performance models were just gussied-up cars with upgraded suspensions and some factory tuning. Lately, the company’s shown a growing willingness to add meaningful levels of horsepower via Gazoo Racing.

Our best guess is that Lexus will fit the Yaris Cross with a nicer interior and some brand-approved bodywork before calling it a day on the base BX. Deliveries are estimated to commence in 2023.

As stated before, odds of this baby coming to America are exceptionally poor. Toyota has already confirmed the model as a poor fit for the United States, making the BX even less likely.

We’ll keep an ear to the ground to see if that changes, though we doubt it. America doesn’t even have access to the current-generation Yaris, and has been making due with Mazda-based subcompacts coming out of Mexico for years. Exporting a premium model that probably won’t mesh with regional tastes seems highly unlikely.


[Images: Toyota]

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27 Comments on “Toyota Yaris Cross Rumored to Underpin Diminutive Lexus by 2023...”

  • avatar

    More than Honda/Acura as they look to punt with a sharing GM EV platform and back to motorcycles.

  • avatar

    I can’t imagine a vehicle smaller than the Lexus UX being useful to anyone here.

  • avatar

    I very much doubt Toyota will consider bringing such vehicle to US, but it will make a lot of sense in Europe and Japan where premium subcompact cars are actually popular.

    I believe in the latter market, BMW mini is still the best selling import brand due to its size and Lexus CT is still being sold (and was the best selling Lexus for long time) because everything else was considered too big.

    • 0 avatar

      Can Lexus (or anybody) build a premium vehicle for less than $30k?

      • 0 avatar

        Why limit yourself to under $30k? UX starts at $40k in the home market and elsewhere, so there’s plenty of space underneath.

        We already have all the mini variants, Audi A1, Q2 and the likes, so this will be in a good company.

  • avatar

    Nothing conveys prosperity more than driving a Lexus BX.

  • avatar

    Well, the Scion IQ got the Aston Martin treatment. Heh.

    Of course, this is just brilliant and amazing because — Toyota.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This place said the Buick Encore wouldn’t sell. I think these would sell and sell well. Think of Jane finally making project manager or empty nesters enjoying ease of exit/entry. Toyota’s job is to sell vehicles and make money. This thing would.

    • 0 avatar

      It would sell here as a gussied-up Toyota. I’m not too sure it wouldn’t represent a step down in prestige for Lexus. If brought here, it might be later seen as the point when Lexus gave up competing with the German luxury marques.

      • 0 avatar

        Aside from size, in terms of “prestige” – is there really a difference btwn a Lexus that is based on the Yaris vs. the C-HR, RAV-4, Highlander or Avalon?

        And this is hardly the first time Lexus has derided something, only to go back on it later (diesels and turbos).

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          @ bd2, Overall, I think Lexus interiors are better than Toyotas. More luxury and bright shiny things for my ADD. However, Toyota’s inforaintment engineers need to be shown Uconnect. Pop in rental car, synch phone, find radio station, adjust bass, go. I live in the burbs of D.C., takes me about 10 hours to get back to the el scotto homestead in IN or eight hours to the condo of drunkenness in Myrtle Beach, SC. Either trip is extremely comfortable .

          • 0 avatar

            @el scotto

            – Yes, the Lexus variants get better interiors, plus more sound deadening and amenities, but my point simply was that as long as the same thing applies to this, really isn’t any different from the rest of the Lexus lineup based on FWD Toyotas – so should have little impact on “prestige.”

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly what Lorenzo is saying Buick Lexus and the B&B would have the pitchforks out if an Encore based Cadillac was brought to the table.

    • 0 avatar

      So what would be the difference between a UX buyer and BX buyer?

    • 0 avatar

      Agree 100%. An administrative assistant at my work recently treated herself to a Lexus NX300 F-Sport. As a single gal, it’s more car than she really needs. And as someone with a just-okay salary, it’s certainly more payment than she really needs. But clearly the brand name was important to her. She would be ALL OVER a smaller, cheaper Lexus CUV. If a nice dashboard and unique styling are all it takes for Buick, even with its diminished brand equity, to shift a lifted Chevy Sparkonic with awful seats and an ashtmatic powertrain for real-car money, then surely Lexus can pull off the same trick with a Yaris.

      P.S. To non-“car people,” a “nice trim level” doesn’t count. Nobody is checking to see if you went LX or SE or whatever. The brand badge matters. This is why a relentlessly mediocre rebadged Civic continued to sell for Acura, even as the ACTUAL Civic was updated to a newer model that was better in every way. This is why literally everything that’s standard on a high-trim Chevy or Toyota is optional on a Bimmer: people would rather have the world’s sh!ttiest Bimmer than the world’s best Chevy.

      • 0 avatar

        …people would rather have the world’s sh!ttiest Bimmer than the world’s best Chevy…

        …people obsessed with their image would rather have the world’s sh!ttiest Bimmer than the world’s best Chevy…

        Fixed it for you.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, the ILX has been a major sales disappointment for Acura – a much needed refresh “boosting” sales to 14.6k last year from a piddly 11k for the 2 prior years.

        Compare that w/ the 325.6k in sales for the Civic in 2019 (in a good month, the Civic does around 35k, which is more than double the entire sales volume of the ILX).

        As you stated, why get the mediocre ILX when the Civiv is better in numerous ways?

        Also, many buyers have been eschewing lux brands in favor of loaded pick-ups and SUVs from Ford, Chevy, GMC, etc.

        That’s why the Denali sub-brand has become such a major profit driver for GM and why the Tahoe/Suburban get something like the High Country Deluxe Package.

        And this isn’t something new.

        Back when the 3rd gen (TF) Optima was launched, there were buyers clamoring for something nicer interior-wise than the then top SX trim, so Kia came up w/ the SX-L (which had things like leather inserts at the interior door panels) trim.

        And we are seeing that continued today in the SX-P trim for the Telluride, which is getting its fair share of conquests from lux makes.

        PS – if that AA at work wanted a cheaper Lexus CUV, why didn’t she just ge the UX?

        And if $$ was a factor, why get the pricier F-Sport version of the NX?

  • avatar

    I can’t understand why Toyota is not bringing this to the America. The C-HR is just plain awful. This would make a great entry level CUV for Toyota. I don’t know how it would work as a Lexus, but with Lexus design cues and interior refinement it might work. But they should definitely bring it as the entry level Toyota CUV. That’s a no-brainer.

  • avatar

    I don’t get Lexus, the LS has a V6, they killed the GS, F-Sport is as meaningless as stripe-packages in the 1970s. I’ve driven the NX as a loaner half-a-dozen times and it’s a steaming pile. I can’t imagine the UX or this Yaris-based thing being any better. My now 20-year-old GS has honestly spoiled the crap out of me with its durability, reliability, 1UZFE V8 and an interior that looks barely five years old. I sit in the new Lexus models and can plainly see they won’t last nearly as well as the older cars. The newest Lexus I’d replace my car with is a 2005 LS430, any Lexus after that is just a car.

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