Back in the early 1990s, the still-new Lexus brand released its first luxury coupe, the SC 400. At a time when cars were all angles and corners, there was barely a straight line to be found on the SC's sexy sheet metal. It was a car that was staggeringly futuristic and an instant classic.
The Lexus LC 500 strikes us in much the same way. It's a gorgeous coupe with futuristic supercar looks, and yet its price, while certainly not cheap, is far below that of European exotic cars that are similarly stimulating to the senses. Thanks to the lessons Lexus has learned from the LFA supercar and smaller RC F coupe, the V8-powered LC 500 offers a thrilling driving experience to match its striking looks. Available with a high-power V8 or a hybrid drivetrain (the latter in the LC 500h, reviewed separately), this is a supercar that has everything we expect from an exotic car except for the stratospheric price.
Current Lexus LC 500
The Lexus LC 500 is sold in a single trim level (the hybrid version, called the LC 500h, is reviewed separately), and it comes lavishly equipped, as you would expect from a high-end luxury sports coupe. Along with power-adjustable steering wheel and seats, there is a 12-speaker audio system with navigation and a full suite of safety and driver-assistance hardware including collision detection with automatic braking, lane departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control. Options include upgrades for the wheels, stereo and interior trim, as well as a cold weather package and active rear steering.
What impresses us most about the Lexus LC 500 is its cabin. The materials are as good as we've seen in any car at any price, and the build quality is exquisite. Our complaints are typical of other Lexus models. We don't like the infotainment controller, which is a touchpad in place of the mouselike controller in other Lexus cars. And Lexus has yet to adopt Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone integration.
Compared to other sport coupes, the LC 500 is easy to get in and out of, and outward visibility is better than most. Still, there are limitations. The back seat (which is upholstered in synthetic leather, not the genuine cowhides of the front seats) is sized for children, and the trunk is tiny at just 5.4 cubic feet.
The Lexus LC 500h is powered by a 5.0-liter V8, here tuned for 471 horsepower and 298 pound-feet of torque, which drives the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The V8 delivers strong thrust that fades a bit at the top of the rev range, but with 10 gears and the ability to shift them via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, keeping the engine at just the right speed is never a problem. That said, you might have just as much fun selecting the LC 500's Sport+ mode, which makes the engine louder and the shifts firmer and more aggressive.
When it comes to handling and Lexus vehicles, we tend to relax our expectations, but the LC 500 exceeds them. The steering is quick and precise, the brakes are strong, and grip from the tires is excellent. There's a noticeable difference in suspension feel between Comfort and Sport modes. The LC 500 is supercar-aggressive in Sport mode, but it's nearly as smooth as the Lexus ES sedan in Comfort mode.
Used Lexus LC 500 Models
The LC 500 was introduced as a new model for 2018.
Read the most recent 2018 Lexus LC 500 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus LC 500 page.