Full 2010 Lexus SC 430 Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Lexus SC 430 gets fresh 18-inch alloy wheels, puddle lamps in the exterior mirrors, and an updated navigation/audio interface with a tweaked display, real-time traffic and weather, satellite radio, iPod/USB connectivity and Bluetooth audio.
If you've reached that stage in life where you're considering buying a luxury convertible, you may have been around long enough to know the phrase "oldie but goodie." This is an apt description of the Lexus SC 430. While this midsize four-seat convertible wowed us with its newfangled retractable hardtop when it debuted back in 2002, it hasn't received a significant update since. Meanwhile, the world of upscale drop tops has changed dramatically. Still, the SC 430 may satisfy buyers looking for a more relaxed and luxurious hardtop convertible experience.
To be sure, the 2010 Lexus SC 430 still has a number of good qualities, including a highly refined powertrain, a smooth ride, excellent build quality and rock-solid reliability. It can also be viewed as a relatively affordable alternative to super-luxury soft tops like the BMW 6 Series and Jaguar XK. Whether those strengths balance out the car's weaknesses -- including limited trunk space, cramped rear seats and uninspired handling -- is ultimately up to individual buyers to decide.
As such, we recommend that anyone considering an SC 430 also take a look at some of the newer four-place luxury convertibles on the market. Notable rivals with retractable hardtops include the BMW 335i, Infiniti G37 convertible and Volvo C70, all of which offer a sportier driving experience, improved rear-seat comfort or both. The Audi A5 and S5 cabriolets are also enticing alternatives to the oldie-but-goodie 2010 Lexus SC 430.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Lexus SC 430 is a luxury convertible with a power-retractable hardtop. It's offered in one well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, adaptive xenon headlights, foglamps, heated auto-dimming outside mirrors with integrated puddle lamps, leather upholstery, wood trim, power-adjustable heated front seats, driver memory functions, Bluetooth cellular phone connectivity and dual-zone automatic climate control. On the infotainment front, the SC 430 features a standard voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic and weather, as well as a Mark Levinson audio system with a six-CD changer, an iPod/USB input and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Given the extensive array of standard features, it's not surprising that the SC 430's options list contains just two items -- run-flat tires and a rear spoiler.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Lexus SC 430 is powered by a 4.3-liter V8 that puts out 288 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. That power gets to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with manual control. Peering back through the mists of time to 2001, we see that we clocked a SC 430 test car at 6.7 seconds from zero to 60 mph. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.
The SC 430 comes standard with antilock brakes with brake assist and stability control, and front-seat occupants get side and knee airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
While it's no longer the unique spectacle it once was, the 2010 Lexus SC 430's retractable hardtop is still a nice piece. With a complex mechanism that stacks the three aluminum sections neatly under the rear deck lid in less than 30 seconds, it allows owners to enjoy both the comfort and security of a coupe and the pleasures of open-air motoring. A standard wind deflector fits behind the front seats and helps keep top-down buffeting to a minimum.
Once situated in the cabin, you can expect to find a handsome dashboard design and top-quality materials, including luxurious leather upholstery and wood trim in bird's-eye maple or walnut. The front seats are quite comfortable, but the cramped rear seats are really only suitable for transporting small children, and then only in a pinch. Out back, the relatively accommodating trunk ranges from 9.4 cubic feet with the optional run-flat tires to 8.8 cubic feet with the standard spare tire in place. Drop the top and room in the cargo hold all but disappears, meaning you'll likely have to resort to using the backseat to stow your shopping bags or suitcases.
Though the 2010 Lexus SC 430 is ancient by modern automotive standards, it still has a silky-smooth powertrain and good acceleration. The exhaust note isn't exactly aggressive, but it's loud enough with the top down to let you know that you've got a V8 under the hood. The softly tuned suspension enables the SC 430 to soak up pavement irregularities like a luxury sedan. All told, this Lexus is still a great choice for leisurely afternoon drives or full-on road trips (provided you can pack light). However, its comfort-biased ride means that those in search of a sporty driving experience should look elsewhere.