When Lexus debuted the LC in 2018, it was visually breathtaking. Soon, a convertible and hybrid model were unveiled and, eventually, some tuning and suspension changes to match the car’s showroom looks and powerful V8.
The LC 500 is a 2+2 sports coupe or convertible grand tourer that has become the flagship of what Lexus designers can do. It’s not a performance car, per se, but it toes the line as if it might be, if you really want it to be. The Lexus LC 500 Convertible is by far the most beautiful and satisfying car we’ve driven this year.
Swerve Autos Score: 87/100
Its style is definitely the high point of the Lexus LC. Whether coupe or convertible, the LC 500 and 500h models have curvature that combines most feminine and masculine imagery. The saloon-styled hood, heavy (not quite Kardashian) haunches, and sleek roofline are accentuated by moving body lines and tight wheel wells.
The hood of the LC slopes forward enough to minimize the otherwise gargantuan dovetail grille of the Lexus line, with sharp headlamps matching the sharp inner corners of that grille and a simple boat prow of lines creating the front fenders and engine hump. This design also gives maximum forward visibility for the driver, making finding the corners and lines easy.
From there, the sleek silhouette line of the roof and rather long rear deck make the profile of the Lexus LC unmistakable. The low roof creates a small greenhouse and behind the very raked windscreen, accentuating the rounded doors and aerodynamic side mirrors. The lower cut of the running board melds into the brake cooling intake ahead of the rear well, helping to further highlight the large rear haunches that promise rear-wheel driven power.
The lines and bodywork of the Lexus LC 500 are both classically simple and unusually dynamic, becoming timeless in their beauty. Fifty years from now, this will still likely be considered one of the most beautiful cars of our era.
“Holy swagalicious” was how one friend described the Lexus LC’s interior when first seeing it. That’s a pretty good summary of the mixture of premium materials, beautiful leather, and exquisite styling found throughout the LC’s cabin.
Lexus clearly took some time configuring the front seating in the LC, finding a sweet spot between sporty bolstering and all-day comfort for the saloon. Small item storage is equally good, giving places for phones, gadgets, purses, and the like throughout.
Two downsides are found in the Lexus LC’s interior, however: the rear seats and the trunk. The rear seats are cramped, to say the least, and difficult to get into and out of. The trunk measures just 4.7 cubic feet (roughly 2 carryon bags or one Chicago marathon runner named Jill). The rear seating may be less of an impact for buyers in the LC’s category than would the small trunk, we think, and so we don’t discount the LC’s overall interior score by much as a result.
The Lexus LC, as of the 2021 model year, includes a host of interior accoutrements as standard equipment. Among them are dual-zone climate, a 12-speaker sound system, and a power-folding rooftop for convertible models. The roof is relatively slow to operate (about 13 or 14 seconds to open/close), but works at speeds up to 31 mph. Several infotainment and safety items are also included, detailed below.
Available options include a very well-done Mark Levinson sound system upgrade. For the coupe model, a panoramic glass or carbon fiber roof are options.
The Lexus LC can hold its own with most performance cars in its class. It won’t necessarily win the checkered flag on track day, but it will be the most comfortable ride making the podium. With a zero to sixty of about 4.5 seconds and a satisfying eight-cylinder growl, the V8 powertrain propelling the LC is no slouch. Even the hybrid model clocks sub-5-second 60mph sprints.
The standard powertrain in the LC 500 is a throaty 5.0-liter V8 that produces 471 horsepower to a 10-speed automatic transmission powering the rear wheels. This big eight is a beauty of an engine, quietly chugging during normal driving and coming to high-decibel life in a low, beautiful tone when pressed. It beautifully balances everyday cruising and thrilling sprints.
The hybrid option for the LC replaces the V8 with a 3.5-liter V6 and two electric motors mated to a variable hybrid automatic transmission. That transmission isn’t quite a continuously variable (CVT), as it has actual gearing included, but is instead a hybrid of a CVT and an automatic for a better blend of power delivery in this sports car. The result is a smooth, sports car delivery of electric and engine power to the rear wheels that rivals any non-hybrid it might be compared to. A combined 354 horsepower is more than adequate for moving the car forward quickly, but the HP number doesn’t suggest the fast pace the instant torque of the electric motors adds. Which is why the sprint speed of the LC 500h is close to its V8 stablemate at 4.7 seconds.
Beyond the powertrains, though, the Lexus LC also has a very well-tuned suspension and steering system. Turns are crisp and level, with little lean or roll. The Lexus isn’t quite as fast-paced at the corner as are other sports cars it could be compared to, but it’s balance is towards comfortable sportiness, which means it is less jarring and pushy while making those corners and accelerating out of them.
No car in the Lexus LC’s category is going to get high marks for practicality. The rear seats are nearly useless and the trunk is small. Buyers of the LC should consider it a two-seat coupe with back seats for added storage or to bring the dog along. A child safety seat will greatly impede on the seat ahead of it and only the smallest or most flexible of teenagers will be able to access and sit in those rear seats.
But storage options for smaller items and the everyday things we carry with us is ample and front seat comfort is best-in-class. Those are the high points for the LC’s practicality. The hybrid model is also surprisingly fuel efficient as well.
The standard V8 model is EPA-rated at 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Not terrible for a V8-powered sports car. Our real world ratings were closer to 24 mpg highway, but we are at high altitude. The hybrid model gets an EPA rating of 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. It’s total range is an astonishing 500 miles per tank.
Few vehicles can rival the LC for its comfort levels. For a sports car, the LC is amazingly luxurious and comfortable to be in. In the coupe model, sound is well-damped and the ride is quiet and smooth. In the convertible, road noise is a little higher due to the thinner roof, but is otherwise smooth. With the top down and windows up, the LC has a quieter interior than many convertibles and conversations at normal tones are possible.
On the road, the Lexus LC rides smoothly and feels confident and capable. Rear visibility is cramped with the top up or in the coupe, but the side mirrors are larger than they appear to be, giving a better view than might be expected.
Technology in the Lexus LC is focused on the 10.3-inch infotainment screen and its frustrating touchpad interface. It’s neither intuitive to use nor safe while underway. To call the infotainment system distracting is an understatement as the system is so annoying to operate that long stares away from the roadway are common while trying to figure out where to move a finger to get the indicator to the desired spot on-screen.
The good news is that some of this frustration can be alleviated by plugging in a device that uses Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. No wireless option is available for those.
Connected Services 7/10
The connected services that Lexus offers are good, but limited. Remote start, remote lock/unlock, trunk access for package deliveries, and Amazon Alexa connectivity are all pluses to the Lexus services offered. Oddly, the convertible model cannot have its top put up or down via those services nor can this be done via remote, as it can on other (less costly) convertible sports cars. We do note that connectivity with the Lexus app is consistent.
Active Safety 9/10
The LC comes standard with Lexus’ full suite of active safety and driver assistance systems. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection are standard. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keeping assistance, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlamps, etc. are all part of the Lexus Safety System+ that’s included with the LC. A head-up display and front-rear parking sensors are the only add-ons available in active safety/driver assistance for this car.
In the realm of luxury sports cars, the Lexus LC fares better than most as a value proposition. Lexus on the whole enjoys a high resale value–higher than any other luxury marque–and the LC benefits from that. The reputation that Lexus enjoys for reliability plays into that and helps the LC keep a high resale.
Beyond that, the cost of the LC is commensurate with most of its rivals in terms of both its sticker price and its costs of ownership.
Editors Influence 10/10
Of the hundreds of vehicles we’ve driven in the past couple of years, the Lexus LC is a top favorite. Its blend of luxury, comfort, and performance are unmatched and its beautiful exterior and wonderful interior are extremely well regarded. It’s difficult to name a vehicle that would rival the LC as an overall package.