2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Review

A King's Car for a Pauper's Ransom


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Beautiful to behold, elegant soft top ratchets up the exotic boulevardier quotient, sonorous V8 is even more so with the top down, one of the best interiors on earth, impeccable build quality, a better drop-top for this money doesn't exist.
Negatives: Annoying infotainment system not commensurate with the rest of the car, dinky back seats, horrible rearward visibility, overly busy headlight cluster.
Bottom Line: As if we needed more reason to love the LC 500, the Convertible adds another level of sophistication and enjoyment. Nobody builds a convertible grand tourer with this level of style at this price. It cruises like a champ, feels sumptuous and powerful, and it won't be mistaken for anything else.
The LC 500 Convertible is brand new for 2021, and what a change a soft top makes. While it doesn't ramp up the cost too much, what it effectively does to its looks is nearly immeasurable. The same naturally-aspirated V8 is under the hood, and the interior appointments are about as good as you can expect. Lexus even added the option of a hot air system to keep you warm when the temps drop, and it's called Climate Concierge (not as cool as Mercedes' "Air Scarf"). We drove the LC 500 Convertible for a week to see what changes when you add a soft top, and we just wanted people to stare at us. Read our detailed review below.
 

Driving Experience

7.2

 

The LC 500 Convertible, just like its hardtop sibling, is more of a grand tourer than a street carver. It's very heavy, but it's also very powerful and still capable of thrilling drivers. Some owners might find the ride a bit firm for their liking, but it is still very enjoyable behind the wheel. Oh, that V8 sound, too.

Ride Quality: The LC 500 Convertible doesn't exactly ride like it looks. There's definitely some firmness there,

Acceleration: 0-60 is a little bit slower than the hard top, but the transmission responds quickly when you downshift. The thrust of the V8 is palpable, and it sounds phenomenal.

Braking: The brakes are strong and stopping distances are very good. We had no trouble modulating the brakes, either.

Steering: The electrically-assisted steering setup responds to inputs well, and it's precise. Turn in is very quick, and there's a small bit of feedback coming through.

Handling: The handling is excellent for something this heavy, but you can feel the weight (the convertible adds 200 pounds to the LC 500's already corpulent 4,340-lb curb weight). Cornering is relatively flat, but it does feel hefty.

Technology

7

 

Nearly everything about the LC 500 Convertible is wonderful, so the frustrating infotainment system with its wonky control pad seems completely out of place. It's too bad they didn't put the system from the new NX 350 in here because that would be a game-changer.

Infotainment System: Though the screen looks good, and menus are relatively easy, the responsiveness is poor, and other manufacturers like BMW make a far better system.

Controls: We love the climate control buttons, the control stalks on top of the instrument binnacle, and the audio controls, but the infotainment touchpad is just awful to use. It's vague, touchy, and distracting.

Styling

9.8

 

This is a stunning vehicle, and everyone wants to look at it, especially when the top is down. If you hate attention, this is not the car for you (especially in red). The soft top looks beautiful when it's up, but the car comes into its own when the top is down, like a magnificent, opulent land barge.

Front: The huge spindle grille actually looks great on the LC 500 Convertible and Coupe. The headlight cluster is a bit too complex for our liking, but the long hood makes up for that sin and then some.

Rear: The taillights look metallic when they're not on, and the rear deck is so prominent when the top is up. We don't love the overly complex split exhaust tips.

Profile: When the top is down, the LC 500 Convertible looks even longer. It manages to impart refinement and aggressiveness in perfect balance.

Cabin: The interior is more special than the exterior with its beautiful materials slinky accent lines everywhere. Who thought a monochromatic interior could look this good?

Comfort

8.9

 

The two front seats provide excellent levels of comfort, but the rear seats are very cramped, which shouldn't come as a surprise for this kind of car.

Front Seats: The seating position and space for the occupants are excellent. Lexus makes some great seats, but the seatbacks could use a smidge more width.

Rear Seats: It's really only a 2+2 because the seats are only good for small kids. There's hardly any legroom to speak of.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Although it's very quiet most of time, big bumps and gaps make the structure a bit creaky due to the addition of the convertible top.

Visibility: With the top down, visibility all around is excellent. No surprise there. With the top up, the mail slot of a rear window and the thick pillars inhibit sightlines quite a bit.

Climate: The climate system is good with heating and cooling working just right, along with responsive heated/ventilated seats. The Climate Concierge system is great when you want to drive with the top down and its 45 degrees outside.

Safety

7.2

 

The LC 500 hasn't been tested by either IIHS or the NHTSA because it's not exactly a high volume-selling car, and the price is on the high side. At least it gets a great set of standard safety features.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The Lexus Safety System+ comes with a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, intelligent high beam headlamps, lane keep assist w/ steering assist, and lane departure alert. It also comes with a backup camera with dynamic gridlines, Inuitive Park Assist, and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with an excellent and very easy-to-read head-up display.

Storage/Cargo

6

 

The convertible top needs space for storage and the deployment mechanism, so you lose two cubic feet of trunk space. At least the interior has some decent small storage areas, and you can always use that small back seat for your luggage.

Storage Space: The small door pockets, cupholders, and the armrest are fine for smaller items. There's not a lot of space in the cabin, but owners will likely not expect it.

Cargo Room: Trunk space drops from an already tiny 5.4 cubic feet down to a dinky 3.4 cubes in the convertible.

Fuel Economy

7.4

 

The big V8 engine is wonderful, but it's not miserly. We found ourselves pushing the car hard and squeezing out any efficiency the LC 500 might have offered.

Observed: 12.6 mpg.

Distance Driven: 116 miles.

Audio

9.7

 

Spend the extra $1,220 on the superb Mark Levinson audio system because it's just that good. You'll enjoy the cranked tunes coming through with ample bass and great clarity when you're hauling down the freeway at 80 mph with the top down. It's one of the best systems you can buy.



Final Thoughts

We were already in love with the LC 500 Coupe, but the Convertible changes things in dramatic fashion. It's even more beautiful than the Coupe, and it adds a level of enjoyment for three seasons. The car feels and looks like a million bucks, and it costs tens of thousands less than a Mercedes S-Class convertible. We know the LC 500 doesn't sell very well, but that's a good thing since just about no one else on the road owns one.
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