2018 Lexus LC500 essentials: In a love/like relationship


Car reviews / Среда, Ноябрь 7th, 2018

What is it: The Lexus LC500 is the company’s halo car, meaning it’s the one that brings people into the dealership, who then get something more reasonable like an ES sedan or RX crossover. It’s the best car the company makes by a mile, and the five-liter V8 is one of the sweetest-sounding engines on the planet.

Key Competitors: BMW 8-Series, Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type

Base Price: $92,995 As-Tested Price: $104,465

Full review: 2018 Lexus LC500 first drive

Highlights: The LC was new for 2018 after stunning showgoers at the Detroit auto show in 2016. Its V8 makes a stout but not remarkable 471 hp along with 398 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent through a ten-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. The LC has a bit of the V10-powered LFA styling in its genes, and there will be an upgraded LC-F model coming soon. The Performance Package on this car adds Alcantara trim, a carbon fiber roof, variable gear ratio steering, active rear steering, active rear spoiler and the carbon fiber door sills.
 

2018 Lexus LC interior

The door handles are the killer app here, both clean and artistic.

Our Opinion: I drove this car for a few days earlier in the year and I couldn’t decide if I just liked it, or loved it. I got in again recently and…I still can’t decide. Let’s break it down, and by the end of this thing, we’ll see if I can come to a conclusion.

The LC500 looks fantastic. It’s one of the few cars with a floating roof that I can say that about. The floating roof is where designers black out the c-pillar to give the car a longer, flowing look. Maybe 25 cars have it, and 22 of them look worse for it, in my humble opinion. The Tesla-style, flush/pop-out door handles are sweet, though I worry about the longevity, and the retractable wing is always cool. From behind you can tell it’s retractable too. That tells other drivers that this is purpose-built sports car. The carbon fiber roof, included in the $5,600 Performance Pack is a must, considering everything else it includes. I don’t love it in silver. Red and black are great.

The LC's cockpit feels like a jet fighter with all of the controls not only focused on the driver, but slightly inaccessible from the passenger seat with the placement of the…I would call it an “oh sh@t” handle, but more likely a place to rest your hand. It’s hard not to grip with the right hand. It seems perfectly placed.

The drive modes and traction control dials now flank the central gauge cluster, which keeps them in your vision, but I don’t know why. I can’t forsee a time when I need to get at those mid-maneuver, but they are a good reminder that the option is there. The LC steering wheel, gearshift, dash are all leather covered and look great. The metal knobs and switches are cool and the driver controls everything with the mousepad. You’ll have to get used to using it, because it takes a while to get the hang of it. The infotainment screen is big and there’s a lot of ground to cover.

But forget all of that because the LC500 is a driver’s luxury vehicle. The V8 barks on startup and sounds like a NASCAR car. It, the Jag and the Mercedes are top of my list for V8 sounds right now, though the Americans are catching back up.

The LC is smoother off the line than its specs would suggest, and darn it if I couldn’t pull off a straight-line burnout. I turned the TC off, stomped the throttle and it just gets up and goes. I didn’t hold the brakes, but maybe next time I will.

Ten seems like a ton of speeds but this LC stays comfortably in the 4-7 range, especially in the sportier modes. I only saw double digits on the gear indicator a few times, and only because I paddle shifted my way there on the expressway. I had to test out the paddles, and they worked fine, but it actually felt a little slower to shift than in automatic. I mostly left it there.

The LC has a new-style automatic shifter where D is left and down, R is left and up and N is left. It was nice just to bump the shifter left, throw some revs at a light, and then bump it back into D. The gauges change with the drive mode and in the top, sport plus setting it looks almost identical to the slick LFA digital tach.

This LC is not nearly as hardcore as that F1-sounding monster was. This is a luxury coupe, complete with a multilink suspension setup front and rear and even with the 20-inch wheels it didn’t crash over potholes. The variable ratio steering ramps up with speed and angle and I found it pleasing both in effort and quickness. This car has a long hood so having quicker control of the front wheels is a blessing in many ways.

Overall, I like it a lot. I don’t love it — I’ll reserve that outpouring of emotion for the LC-F, I hope.

This car is $100K-plus as tested, and there are a ton of fantastic cars for that sort of money: The Jag F-Type, Porsche 911 Carrera S and Mercedes-AMG GT just to name a few. That’s a tough group to compete with, but with its wild style and sonorous V8, the LC500 certainly has a fighting chance.

—Jake Lingeman, road test editor

Options: Performance package with alcantara seats with 8-way power, carbon fibger roof, active rear steering, VGRS, active rear spoiler, alcantara headliner, carbon fiber door sill ($5,960); 21-inch wheels ($2,650); premium audio ($1,220); Convenience Package with intuitive park assist, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert ($1,000); limited slip differential ($390); All-weather Package including heated steering wheel, windshield de-icer and PTC heater ($250)
 

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $92,995

As Tested Price: $104,465

Powertrain: 5.0-liter V8, 10-speed automatic, RWD

Output: 471 hp @ 7,100 rpm; 398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,280 lb

Fuel Economy: 16/26/19 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Pros: Looks like a spaceship

Cons: People will notice you, in any color