After an eight-year stretch without a high-performance coupe in its lineup, Lexus is back in the game with the LC 500, a sensational new $92,000 luxury two-door propelled by a 471-horsepower V8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission and the rear wheels.
There is also a hybrid version, the LC 500h, starting at $96,510.
The 2018 Lexus LC 500 is not a sports car. Showy, heavy, midsize and with a big cabin, it’s an ideal luxury grand tourer – but luggage will be limited on trips. Cabin space is almost entirely devoted to the driver and front passenger seats and the pampering of their occupants. There’s a vestigial area behind them that could be considered seats but only during an emergency evacuation. Trunk volume is just 5.4 cubic feet.
LC 500’s exterior styling is a masterpiece. People oblivious to cars are awestruck by it. Even detractors of the Lexus spindle grille, whose design inspiration might have been a fancy cheese grater, say the grille looks great on the LC 500.
Pressing the start button elicits a thunderous roar from the 5.0-liter engine, which can hit 60 mph within 4.4 seconds. Premium fuel is consumed at the rate of 16 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined.
In spite of its hunkered-down stance, the LC 500’s nose doesn’t scrape the concrete stoppers in parking lots or the curb when parking diagonally on a street. This is a big deal. The sound of scraping coming from beneath a wildly expensive car is sickening.
The LC 500 contains a profusion of advanced engineering and technology designed to deliver the utmost in drivability, safety, comfort and convenience. But designers went too far with the infotainment system. Rather than going into painful details, I’ll just say that after the car was delivered, it took 20 minutes of trying to figure out the system’s rudimentary commands. Anything more complex was unattainable. What a disappointment.
While driving the LC 500, strict attention must be paid to gauges to avoid accidentally surpassing speed limits by perilous amounts. I inadvertently violated that rule when I briefly punched the pedal to call up the engine’s 398 lb-ft of torque and get out of a slower-moving traffic cluster on I-5. After breaking free, I checked the rearview mirror for a sense of satisfaction, only to see a Washington State Patrol car quickly crossing three lanes to get right behind me. I didn’t know what my top speed had been during the great escape, but I feared the worst. No red and blue flashers came on as the trooper and I drove along and I mentally rehearsed different excuse stories and tried not to panic vomit. Finally it occurred to me to move over so I wouldn’t also get nailed for being in the left lane without passing. The trooper continued on his way. I like to think he just wanted to see what kind of car I was driving. That’s the LC 500 for you. Everyone wants a closer look.
2018 LEXUS LC 500
Base price, including destination charge: $92,995
Price as driven: $103,150
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.