2018 LEXUS LC 500h

ELEGANT HYBRID GT

Most cars look bland in white paint, but not the Lexus LC 500h. The styling is so striking that it looks awesome even in white. In fact, the white color emphasizes the contrast between the sheet metal and the black exterior features, like the spindle-shaped grille.

The LC turns heads everywhere it goes, regardless of the color of paint it bears. People ask you about it in parking lots. Drivers race to catch you on the freeways to get a look. So, if you like to keep a low profile, this is not the car for you.

Climb inside, and you’ll find a very impressive interior. Almost every surface is covered in supple leather, or suede-like Alcantara. The only complaint I had in this regard was with the color. In strong sun, the bright, saddle-brown surfaces in my test car were almost overwhelming. Some contrast, like that displayed on the outside, would be more pleasing.

That aside, the seats up front are well-contoured to hold you snugly in place during vigorous driving. The infotainment system features a large 10-inch screen on the dash, which is controlled by a touchpad on the console. It’s a sophisticated setup that operates like your laptop, but it can be distracting to use while driving.

The LC is a “ 2 + 2” coupe, to borrow a term from the past. This means that it has a backseat, but it has little legroom. Maybe a small child could fit back there. The trunk is tight too, but two overnight bags will squeeze in.

 Lexus offers the LC in two versions, the V-8 powered LC 500 and the gas/electric hybrid LC 500h. Earlier, I reviewed the 500 —this time I have the 500h. The hybrid employs a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine and two electric motor/generators to create 354 horsepower. The 500h delivers a commendable 30 mpg in combined city/hwy. driving. The power plant is mated to a “Multi-Stage” transmission, which ties a continuously variable tranny (CVT) with a four-speed automatic. The result of this union is a system that gives you the equivalent of 10 gears.

The 500h is almost as quick as the gas-only LC 500, although it gives away 117 hp. and 200-lbs. of weight. At an estimated 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds, it is only .03 seconds off its stablemate’s pace. Floor the accelerator, and it will pin you to the back of your seat. However, you don’t get the deep-throated rumble of the V-8.

The LC 500h is designed for grand touring. It weighs 4,500 lbs., so it’s not nimble like a Porsche. Yet, it is a fine handling car, with precise steering. Moreover, drivers can firm up the adaptable suspension by switching to the “sport” or “sport+” modes for a more vigorous response. Although the ride becomes stiffer, I think most buyers will be willing to pay that price. Personally, I found the “comfort” mode the best setting in everyday use. Yet, I think Lexus could still refine the ride a bit more.

As you would expect, the LC 500 comes very well equipped with luxury and safety features. A 12-speaker audio system, keyless entry/start, Bluetooth and Enform Remote are standard. This last feature can start the engine; adjust the air conditioning and set driver limits from outside the car. However, if you want more high-buck items, a carbon fiber roof, a head-up display and intuitive parking assist are all available from the options list.

As for safety technology, Lexus includes frontal-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and the Lexus emergency communication system in the base price of the car. Park assist, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are available in the optional Convenience package.

The Lexus LC faces strong competition from the likes of BMW and Mercedes, yet the 500h’s biggest competitor will most likely be its sibling, the LC 500. That car has more power, and is priced $4,500 less than the hybrid. My 500h test car had a base price of $97,505. With options, like head-up display and a Mark Levinson sound system, the bottom line was $101,385.

 

SANPSHOT REVIEW

Beautiful Grand Tourer

Well equipped

Power and Hybrid Economy

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