2019 Lexus LC 500h: this hybrid gets double-takes

In this day and age, it takes a lot for people to rubberneck – the act of turning partially around to check out the hot car that just passed.

That phenomenon played itself out time after time last week when driving the 2019 Lexus LC 500h coupe. The car blends an emotional design with high performance like precious few others on the road, earning its status as the Lexus brand’s flagship model.

The Lexus LC 500 represents the most passionate expression of the Lexus brand. The eye-catching coupe displays a unique mesh grille that spreads across the front of the car. It has a large glass panel and blacked-out rear pillars that create a floating-roof appearance. Chrome-plated moldings along the edges echo the lines of a traditional Japanese sword. My tester, of course, included the optional carbon fiber reinforced plastic roof that creates an even more exotic look.

Another stunning exterior feature is its unique light signature at night. The tail lamps were inspired by the glow of a jet’s afterburners while the ultra-compact, triple-projector LED headlamps are not only striking, but half the size of conventional headlamps. Oh, and there’s a retracting rear spoiler – not just for show – but function.

The car has curves on top of curves on top of curves, and mine were accentuated with an Atomic Silver coat of enamel. It looked equally good under overcast or clear skies. Completing this Mona-Lisa-on-wheels was a set of 21-inch forged wheels.

Did I mention the LC 500 is a hybrid? That’s right, no guilty pleasures need be endured as this beauty achieves an EPA rating of 35 miles per gallon down the highway. And although there is a backseat, two people are optimum.

An Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter, 24-valve, DOHC V6 gasoline engine utilizes D-4S direct fuel injection for optimum efficiency, while the lightweight valve train with dual VVT-i ensures ample torque across the engine speed range. The engine is augmented by two electric motor/generators and a compact, lightweight, lithium-ion battery pack that fits neatly between the rear seats and luggage compartment, with its 84 cells producing 310.8 volts.

There is plenty of power to put a smile on your face, whether it’s from a standing start, or accelerating from freeway speeds. In automatic mode, AI shift control matches gear selection to driving conditions and driver inputs. The multi-stage hybrid system allows for more electric assist at lower vehicle speeds, and it enables the LC 500h to operate without the gasoline engine at speeds of up to 87 mph. Combined system output is 354 hp.

But enough with all that, I’ve got to cram in a few of the creature comforts that make the LC 500h worth every penny of its hefty price tag. My personal favorites were Mark Levinson premium surround-sound audio system, hand-stitched leather bucket seats that fit your tush like a glove, Apple CarPlay, voice-command navigation, and onboard WiFi.

With new Alexa integration, you can bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa on the road. Just ask Alexa for the same access to information and the thousands of skills available at home. Listen to audiobooks, play favorite music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings and much more.

That barely scratches the surface, but space is limited.

Completing the LC 500h is a technologically state-of-the-art safety package. Think Toyota’s suite, only better. Again, there are too many to mention, but I enjoyed the dynamic radar cruise-control feature, and Smart Stop technology the most.

Base Price: $97,735

Price As Driven: $108,895

Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.

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