|Positives: Robust V8 power is smooth and silky, styling inside and out is truly special, quality that exceeds most premium brands, turns heads like few cars can.
|Negatives: Heavy when pushed into turns, almost useless back seat, an infotainment system that's sub-par.
|Bottom Line: The LC 500 is one of our favorite grand touring cars around, and it shows us what Lexus can really do when creating a flagship. It's not as special (or as pricey as the LFA supercar), but it's a serious and less expensive alternative to the BMW 8-Series and the Merc S-Class Coupe.
The LC 500 might weigh a lot, but it's not meant to be a sports car. Instead, it's more of a long haul grand touring car capable of shuttling two people at high speeds without effort. It's still plenty quick and a pleasure to drive.
Ride Quality: The LC 500 is well-dampened and still keeps the firmness dialed in so as not to feel totally isolated from the road. It feels solid and compliant at the same time.
Acceleration: 0-60 takes a quick 4.6 seconds, and the transmission responds quickly. The sonorous V8 sounds and feels marvelous as it pulls through all the gears.
Braking: The brakes are strong and progressive, and pedal feel is great. It does a great job of bringing a lot of mass to a halt quickly.
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 when going taking an apex hard. The grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, adjustable dampers, rear-wheel steering, and the limited-slip differential help tremendously.
The in-car tech mostly works well, and everything looks phenomenal, but the Lexus Enform infotainment system continues to frustrate, diluting the excellence of the LC 500 just a bit.
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.
There isn't a car on the planet that looks like the LC 500, and that's a compliment. While it's not the most attractive mainstream premium vehicle (Jaguar F-Type Coupe), it looks special from every angle and comes in some unique colors.
Front: The huge spindle grille is impossible not to notice, as are the complex headlights. Though we wouldn't call the front end beautiful, it's prominent and unique.
Rear: The back end looks like it came off a space ship, but that's not a bad thing. The taillights look metallic when they're off, which is a special touch no one thought of. The creases come together to mimic the front end, and the split tailpipes effect is definitely unique.
Profile: Given the complexity of styling of the front and rear, the profile is remarkably simple. The LC 500 is a bit of a contradiction, but it works.
Cabin: The interior is more special than the exterior with its beautiful materials and fluid shapes. It's one of the best cabins we've ever seen or sat in.
It's a sumptuous cabin with plush and cosseting seats, but it's only good for two. Those two, however, will be very pleased because the LC 500 has a truly wonderful interior.
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): It's as quiet as a library in the cabin with premium sound deadening and solid build quality. 80 mph sounds like 20.
Visibility: The LC 500 has small windows in back and huge pillars. The hood is long, but not overly so. Overall visibility is okay, and the cameras are a necessity.
Climate: The climate system is good with heating and cooling working just right, along with responsive heated/ventilated seats..
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 and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
Optional Tech: The LC 500 we drove came optioned out with a head-up display and intiuitve park assist.
It's not designed to hold a lot since it's just a grand tourer, but it does have usable space and some small storage items that are useful.
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: There a small 5.4 cubic feet of trunk space, but you can haul groceries or a few duffel bags.
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: 11.3 mpg
Distance Driven: 134 miles
The 13-speaker Mark Levinson system sounds remarkable, and we're always impressed by the brand. It fills the small cabin with rich sound, and it's only a $1,220 upgrade, which isn't bad for a system that's this good. That said, we really enjoyed hearing the burly V8 even more.