Most people buy a hybrid vehicle to get maximum fuel economy. But there's also the less common goal: performance. Witness the Lexus LC 500h, which uses a souped-up V6-based hybrid powertrain to deliver 354 horsepower. Though it's not as quick as the V8-powered LC 500, real-world acceleration feels very similar. But it's not just the hybrid drivetrain that draws us to the Lexus LC 500h. We also love its dramatic styling and exquisitely finished cabin.
Current Lexus LC 500h
The Lexus LC 500h debuted for the 2018 model year. It comes in a single trim level, though there's also the conventionally powered LC 500, which is reviewed separately on Edmunds. The list of standard luxury features is lengthy, and options are bundled into packages that are largely composed of cabin material upgrades and performance enhancements such as a Torsen limited-slip differential and an active rear-steering system.
Powering the Lexus LC 500h is a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 engine supplemented by an electric motor. From there, power flows to the rear wheels through a special transmission that combines the attributes of a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and a conventional four-speed automatic. Together, the two transmissions simulate a 10-speed automatic. Some of the "shifts" are actually ratio changes in the CVT while others are actual shifts from the four-speed, and it's all but impossible to tell the real shifts from the simulated ones.
Though the LC 500h's power output of 354 hp is less than the 471 hp of the V8-powered LC 500, low-speed acceleration feels similar thanks to the extra torque of the electric motor. Then there's the fuel economy. The EPA estimates the LC 500h will get 30 mpg in combined driving, which is very impressive for a heavy, sport-oriented luxury coupe such as this.
The LC 500h's handling is far better than what we expect from a Lexus, with accurate, if somewhat feedback-free, steering, precise body control and strong brakes. The LC 500h's adjustable suspension has both Comfort and Sport modes, and the difference between them is more pronounced than in most other cars.
The Lexus LC 500h's interior is another high point. You're bound to be impressed by the exquisite materials, especially if the LC 500h in which you are sitting has the upgraded trim from the Touring package. Visibility is generally poor in a car of this shape, but the LC 500h is better than most. Our biggest criticism has to do with the infotainment system; instead of the mouselike controller used in other Lexus models (which we don't like), the LC 500h uses a touchpad controller similar to a laptop (which we don't like any better). Though the Lexus LC 500h claims to be a four-seater, the back seat is too tiny for adults, and the 4.7-cubic-foot trunk is so small as to be nearly nonexistent.
Read the most recent 2018 Lexus LC 500h review.