Lexus first introduced us to the LC 500 in 2016 as a production version of the LF-LC Concept car. It began production in 2017 as a 2018 model and filled a void left by the SC which ceased production in 2010. Initially offered as just a coupe, a convertible was added to the lineup as a 2021 model bringing an innovative soft-top design to this flagship coupe. It carries over for 2022 with some dynamic handling enhancements, updated suspension tuning, and a new color palette with nine options.
The LC 500 Convertible is offered in one trim with a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 that pushes out 471 horsepower. This front engine, rear wheel drive pairs with a direct shift 10-speed automatic transmission. Prices start at $101,100 and can get as high as $112,000+ with the added Touring Package, head-up display, and more. It's hard to define an exact competitor to this car, but prospective buyers would likely cross-shop the Acura NSX, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet or AMG GT, and Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. I spent a week in a Nori Green Pearl LC 500 with all the options and here's what stood out...
The Sound (+)
It's a tough call to identify if the sounds of the accelerating V8 or the smooth lines are more head turning... but I'll start with the sound. Starting this car immediately activates an elegant supercar purr from the naturally aspirated 5.0L V8. Once the gas pedal is pressed, even more ear candy is heard as the roar of the V8 escalates to wake up the neighborhood. To further enhance the aggressive tone of the engine's exhaust and augment performance, a computer-controlled valve balances the fine line between optimizing exhaust back-pressure, exhaust tone and volume at higher engine speeds. All convertibles churn out 471 horsepower and 398-pound feet of torque with an estimated 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds. Acceleration is smooth and the tires stick to the pavement. Lexus electronically limits its maximum track speed to 168 MPH.
Lexus refers to the LC 500 as a Grand Tourer which better aligns with its overall performance. It's not as sharp handling as a dedicated sports car like the Chevrolet Corvette, but instead delivers sporty handling paired with a signature Lexus plush ride. From the moment you accelerate, this car engages the driver confidently. It's well-balanced with control to confidently pass others and take corners at higher speeds. Outside of driving this on the street, I drove it on a track and it's impressively poised around turns with stability. The 10-speed automatic smoothly shifts through gears with the aforementioned soundtrack as a background. The suspension is also smooth as it glides over the roadways delivering a nice balance between luxury and sports car harshness. Steering is on point to direct the LC 500 exactly where you want with ease. I drove it on an extended highway drive for a 2.5-hour road trip and never tired of the car's handling or ride. It's a near perfect blend of comfort and performance.
It looks like a concept car and will surely turn heads. I like that the LC is something completely different from the other competitors with styling that can best be described as sexy. The smooth lines and flared fenders look like it was sculpted from the wind and Lexus' attention to detail is remarkable. The large spindle grille was meant for this car with angular LED lights drawing attention to the center. Wide fenders are filled by standard 20" cast alloy wheels which can be upgraded to either 20" or 21" forged wheels as well. The side silhouette is simple with minimal overhangs, a low character line that arches up before the rear wheels and a windshield that seamlessly curves up from the front hood. Around back, the low wide stance is accentuated with a kicked-up design that lifts its profile slightly, while the surface of the spoiler is laterally broadened. Mirrored LED taillights that stretch around to the fenders with sharp angles while a dual exhaust blends into the lower portion of the bumper.
Convertible Top (+)
Oftentimes, the top up on a convertible alters the look of a car significantly. However, even with the top up, the lines are smooth as the convertible top arches to mimic the lines of the LC 500 coupe. Only a soft top is available to maximize space and limit overall weight. Operation is controlled via a button in the center console, and it will operate (open or close) at speeds up to 31 MPH. An animated display on the multi-information display shows the top's progress and provides warning messages to confirm the status of the roof. Speed is also impressive as it takes approximately 15 seconds to open and 16 seconds to close. The power window controls are linked to the movement of the roof as well, allowing the ability to switch to open air freedom with the single push of a button. The hydraulics of the top operation are smooth and quiet and with the top up road noise is reasonably quiet. The convertible top is offered in two colors, black or sand, to pair with one of the nine exterior paint options.
Interior design (+)
Hopping inside, it's evident this is a car designed for the driver. Controls are all within reach and easily visible. All materials are of the highest quality and overall fit and finish is near perfection. Touches of brushed silver accent the soft-touch leather throughout. An 8" digital instrument display is home to a simple circle with RPM, gear selection, speed, and odometer information at the center. At the touch of a button, the entire circle screen shifts over to accommodate a second information screen with driver assist and vehicle info. A long horizontal dash encompasses the multimedia screen, clock and vents while climate controls sit just above the center console. A more traditional gear lever is present, but it is electronically controlled to select the gears.
Despite its beautiful design, the interior boasts a previous generation's technology. A 10.3" infotainment screen is nicely designed into the long dash, but controls are primarily through a touchpad in the center console. While I've managed to get used to the touchpad in other Lexus models, the placement is slightly further back and less ideal in the LC 500. The system does integrate with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa which can be heard through a standard 12-speaker stereo or an upgraded 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround-system. The upgraded sound system sounds great and clear while cruising with the top down.
Other technology features include an advanced climate concierge with heated and ventilated seating along with an available heated steering wheel. Upper body vents are integrated into the seats to keep you comfortable in various weather. A full color head-up display projects key information about speed, audio, gears, and RPM onto the windshield. Updated technology is making its way through the Lexus lineup, so it's only a matter of time before the LC receives the new system.
Interior Comfort: Driver (+)
The LC 500's driver-inspired interior accommodates drivers well. The seat is comfortable and includes eight-way power adjustability. Leather is standard, but an upgraded package will add semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats, embossed headrests, the climate concierge, suede accents, and a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel. It's easier to get in and out than expected while providing ample head and leg room for the driver. Shoulder room feels tighter which is expected in a coupe like this. The seats themselves are well-padded and hug the passengers comfortably. Support was good for a long drive.
Interior Comfort: Passengers (-)
Space for the front passenger is similar to the driver, however there are limitations which will limit their comfort such as a single cup holder in the center console and limited floor space. This did not bode well for an extended drive with my wife who didn't have a place for her water or purse. Rear seats exist making this officially a four-passenger vehicle, but there is barely enough room for kids. My younger kids (ages 6 and 10) fit back there, but at the expense of the passenger seat being pushed further forward. While it's beneficial for a short cruise around town, the back seats are best utilized for personal belongings rather than people. Ironically, it also comes with two complete sets of LATCH connectors for child safety seats... perhaps an ideal vehicle to drive the baby around in to calm them down.
Most people shopping for a vehicle like this are likely not concerned with cargo capacity and that's a good thing for Lexus. The LC has among the least cargo space among competition with 3.4 cubic feet of trunk space. Space is down in the convertible from 5.4 cubic feet in the coupe. There's enough room for a weekend bag or two, but not enough for golf clubs.
Fuel Economy (+/-)
When the LC arrived with a full 21.7-gallon tank it offered around 350 miles of range. EPA estimates are 15/25/18 MPG city/highway/combined and it runs on premium fuel. After a week that included a lot of highway driving, I averaged 22 MPG. These ratings are on par with competitors.
Standard on all models is Lexus Safety System + which includes the following driver assist features:
* Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
* Lane departure alert with lane keep assist
* All-Speed dynamic radar cruise control
* Intelligent high beams
Also standard on all models is blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. Other features to consider are the active roll bars that Lexus designed to deploy upward if a rollover is detected. When not deployed, the roll bars are hidden to maintain the convertible's aesthetic.
Final Statement (+)
Despite some negatives, it's hard not to fall in love with the Lexus LC 500 Convertible. This is truly a car built for the driver who wants an engaging, but comfortable drive. Dropping the top and taking a 2.5 hour drive with the roar of the V8 paired with some good tunes is the pinnacle of Lexus' motto to Experience Amazing. It's not often seen driving around town, so be prepared to talk about it with strangers.
First Impression SummaryExterior Color: Nori Green Pearl
Interior Color: Toasted Caramel leather with Satin Metallic trim
Options: Torsen limited slip differential ($460), head up display ($900), carbon fiber scuff plates ($600), touring package ($7,940)
MSRP as tested: $112,075