2018 Lexus LC 500 First Impression | Edmunds

2018 Lexus LC 500 First Impression

A Bold Design Backed by Impressive Performance

Lexus is getting back into the luxury coupe business in a big way with the new 2018 LC 500 and LC 500h hybrid. The low-slung, high-performance car is designed to compete with some of Europe's most prestigious luxury coupes when it goes on sale later this year.

The LC is not a direct successor to the limited-run LFA sports car that Lexus built from 2010 to 2012. Rather, it's a modern take on the old Lexus SC coupe offered through much of the 1990s. This is a sleek-looking grand touring coupe that combines a high level of performance with a luxurious interior that makes it comfortable enough to drive everyday.

2018 Lexus LC Coupe

A Choice of Old-School Power or High-Tech Efficiency
The LC comes in two versions. For the most visceral experience, there's the standard LC 500. It's powered by a 471-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8, and its raspy exhaust note fills the cabin the moment you fire up the engine. It's the classic sound you would expect from a low-slung sports car. The only transmission offered is a 10-speed automatic that sends the power to the rear wheels. Both the engine and the transmission characteristics can be adjusted by turning a knob on the dashboard.

For those who prefer a more subtle kind of performance, there's the LC 500h hybrid. The roaring V8 is swapped out for a 3.5-liter V6 supplemented by an electric motor. Together they deliver 354 hp while returning roughly 15 percent better mileage than the V8. And although the overall horsepower number is significantly lower, the LC 500h delivers nearly the same level of performance, according to Lexus.

2018 Lexus LC Coupe

Multiple Personalities Come Standard
Adjusting the personalities of either car is done through a dashboard dial that offers Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport+ profiles. The difference between the various modes is quite distinct. In Comfort mode, the LC smooths out even the bumpiest of roads. On long drives, it provides a level of isolation that's soothing without feeling overly soft or wobbly.

On the flip side, the Sport+ mode is surprisingly aggressive for a Lexus. The suspension becomes noticeably firmer and the steering very direct. Throttle sensitivity goes way up, too, and the transmission delivers abrupt shifts that jolt the car with every gear change. Enthusiastic drivers will like the level of engagement and performance that Sport+ offers, but most others will find it a step too far.

2018 Lexus LC Coupe

The Best Lexus Interior to Date
In addition to its performance pedigree, the 2018 Lexus LC offers a beautifully trimmed interior that's a step above anything the carmaker has done before. From the suede-covered doors to the hand-trimmed leather shift knob, the LC has all the premium details you would expect in a high-end luxury coupe. Even if you have no intentions of driving the LC with any enthusiasm, the cabin will make the drive worth it anyway. It's that good.

The driver is definitely the focus of the interior as the instrument panel and many of the controls are oriented toward the left side of the cabin. It's a design that gives the front passenger an added feeling of spaciousness, which makes the LC an excellent long-distance touring car. The same can't be said of the rear seats, which are more like rear storage shelves than usable places for passengers, a typical trait in cars like this.

There are optional sport seats with aggressive bolstering for those who are rail thin and in need of being held tightly. For everyone else, the standard front seats are plenty comfortable whether you're probing the LC's performance limits or merely gliding along in Comfort mode. Regardless of which seats you choose, there's plenty of room for tall drivers. And even though the cabin is driver-oriented, it doesn't have the claustrophobic feel of some dedicated sports cars.

2018 Lexus LC Coupe

Touchy Technology
As the pinnacle of Lexus performance, the LC offers all the technology the brand has to offer at the moment. This includes the latest version of its Remote Touch Interface, which uses a touchpad on the center console to control the sizable navigation screen on the dash. It's a system that has improved over the years, but it's still not the easiest way to work through menus. There's simply too much going on to accurately guide the icon to the right spot on the screen without paying close attention to it.

Additional tech features include a choice of two different audio systems, a full suite of electronic safety systems (pre-collision alerts, pedestrian protection, etc.) and a customizable, widescreen head-up display. There's also an optional sport package that adds a carbon-fiber roof and a retractable rear spoiler.

Thankfully, none of these features detract from the LC's otherwise-clean design inside and out. This is a car that is about more than just a laundry list of features. It's about feeling a certain way when you see it and when you get behind the wheel. Based on our initial experience with both, the 2018 Lexus LC scores well in both areas

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