First Drive: Lexus LC500h

First Drive: Lexus LC500h

by Michael Satterfield

Lexus has been slowly inching its way into the performance car market for years, the first sporty Lexus would be the 1991 SC Z30, it was a two-door coupe, front-engine/rear-wheel drive, all of the elements of a GT car but no matter how well built or what the numbers were the SC seemed to lack that special something. The convertible only second generation was described by Jeremy Clarkson and James May as "the worse car ever built" while J.D. Power and Kelley Blue Book both gave the second-generation SC their highest rankings for quality and value. Lexus did make waves in the sports car world with their radical 202 mph, $375,000, LF-A which was unveiled in 2005. Just 500 would be produced and it was a clear signal that Lexus was serious about building performance cars. In 2007, Lexus would roll out its "F" performance brand across its model line, including the RC F, GS F, and the F Sport performance line. Lexus even launched a performance driving school, to showcase its new commitment to performance.

All of this focus on performance led to the introduction of the Lexus LC series, perhaps the prettiest production Lexus ever made, the 417-hp LC500 coupe and the 354hp LC500h hybrid look the part, but how does it stack up in the very crowded $100K sports car segment? This Atomic Silver 2021, LC500h, equipped with the optional Touring Package, Heads-Up Display, 21" Forged Alloy Wheels, and a few other optional extras comes in with an MSRP of $104,430 including delivery. That puts the LC500 in the company of Porsche 911, A Jaguar F-Type R, and just $10K shy of an AMG GT R just to name a few of the competitors in this space.

While the 500h might look the part, tipping the scales at 4,420 lbs (around a thousand pounds more than a 911), light and nimble it is not, however, the car does its duty as a grand touring car, providing a comfortable ride and more than enough power for the highway, but don't expect to win any drag races or become king of the canyon. It is still fun to drive when you do switch over to Sport Mode and get into some curves, the suspension does a great job of hiding the weight and overall it feels composed and makes all the right noises. 

Lexus LC500h Review

Inside the LC is incredibly well-appointed and looks like the interior you would expect in a six-figure sports car. Like every modern Lexus, the LC uses the Lexus touchpad to control not just infotainment, but features like heated seats and other functions. It is maddening to try to use and while it is supposed to help drivers keep their focus on the road, I found it far more distracting as I had to stare at the screen to do simple functions like adjust my heated seat. More than once I found myself pulling over to use the touchpad as trying to drive while attempting to use the touchpad on less than perfect roads can mean a bump makes the wrong selection. I know some people are fans of the touchpad and perhaps I would get used to using it, but for me, it's a deal-breaker.

Leuxs LC500h

The other slight issue I found with the LC500h was for a 'grand touring' car was the surprising lack of trunk space, which cannot accommodate my golf bag, let alone two if you planned on taking a friend. A big miss for a car aimed squarely at country club customers. With just 4.7 cubic feet of cargo space, the trunk is hardly big enough to accommodate two carry-on bags, so you better pack light if you plan on using the LC for your weekend getaways. The back seat would be an option for some extra luggage since it is far too small for passengers anyway.

Lexus has come a long way in building luxury performance cars, but I still think that they have a ways to go, if I just had to have a Lexus coupe, I would buy the far more practical and substantially less expensive 472 horsepower Lexus RC F.

First Drive: Lexus LC500h