2018 Lexus LC 500h

2018 Lexus LC 500h Review

A world-class cabin and sophisticated hybrid powertrain make the LC 500h a standout sport coupe.
7.4 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Buyers of high-end luxury vehicles are used to getting what they want, but until recently, opulent sports cars that didn't gorge on vast stores of gasoline simply didn't exist. Now, one of the most experienced hybrid automakers in the business is thrusting its best foot forward with the new 2018 Lexus LC 500h. This seductive coupe offers an enticing blend of high style, performance, comfort and luxury.

Motivating the LC 500h is a combination of a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 and an electric motor. A continuously variable automatic transmission works in conjunction with a traditional four-speed automatic to send power to the rear wheels. The unique powertrain helps make the most out of the horsepower available, which is 354 hp for the total system.

This hybrid feels quick on the road. In fact, it posted the same 0-60 mph time at our test track as the V8-driven LC 500. Plus, you get 30 mpg in combined city/highway driving, according to the EPA, which is fantastic for a luxury performance coupe and more than 50 percent better fuel economy than the LC 500.

As impressive as the powertrain is, it's the cabin that immediately yields the most impassioned responses from passengers. From the seats to the headliner, nearly every surface is draped in supple leather or suede. The penchant for high-quality materials even travels down to smaller details, such as the paddle shifters made of magnesium and the hand-trimmed shift knob. There are a few functional blunders, such as the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment interface, which is unwieldy and frustrating to use. But overall we think highly of the LC 500h. It's proof that Lexus can craft a jaw-dropping coupe that stands toe to toe with some of the most elite grand tourers on sale today.



What's new for 2018

The Lexus LC 500h is all-new for 2018. A new model in the Lexus lineup, the LC 500h is primarily a two-seat sports car, although it does have two small seats in back to use in a pinch. The 500h is the hybrid version that uses a combination of a standard gasoline V6 and an electric motor. There is also a V8-powered model called the LC 500, covered in a separate review.

We recommend

The Lexus LC 500h is available in only one trim, but several desirable optional packages transform the character of the car and give it a personalized touch. Though we think the LC offers excellent outward visibility for a sports car, we recommend adding the Convenience package for blind-spot monitoring. The Touring pack's upgraded leather upholstery and faux suede headliner help bump up the luxury factor. The Sport package is an enticing alternative to the Touring, but we find its sport seats are restrictive to all but the most slender drivers.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus LC 500h is a unique car: There are no other high-end hybrid sport coupes with a starting price under six figures. It's sold in just a single trim (the V8-powered LC 500 is reviewed separately), but there are so many standard features, it's sufficiently luxurious without any options. Two packages, Convenience and Touring, add a few creature comforts such as upgraded leather and blind-spot monitoring. For those looking for dynamic improvements, the Sport and Performance packages have you covered with simulated suede upholstery throughout the cabin, a Torsen limited-slip differential and more.

The LC 500h is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 assisted by an electric motor, generating 354 horsepower overall. Two transmissions, a continuously variable automatic and a four-speed conventional automatic, work in conjunction to drive the rear wheels. The transmissions simulate a total of 10 gears, which can be manually selected using steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Like most luxury coupes in this price range, the LC 500h boasts an abundance of standard features. They include 20-inch wheels, LED exterior lights, automatic high-beam control, heated and auto-dimming mirrors with puddle lamps, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting, an 8-inch driver information screen, a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, eight-way power front seats (with two-way power lumbar), driver-seat memory settings, adjustable driving modes, a 10.3-inch central display, a navigation system, and a 12-speaker audio system with two USB ports and HD and satellite radio. Notable safety features include a rearview camera, a pre-collision warning system with automatic braking, and lane departure warning and mitigation.

Since the LC 500h is well-equipped as it is, only a smattering of options and packages are available, but some significantly alter the character of the car. Stand-alone options include 20- and 21-inch wheels, a head-up display, a Torsen limited-slip differential and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system.

If you want to pack the LC 500h with even more luxury features, consider the All-Weather package, which adds a heated steering wheel and windshield de-icer; the Convenience package, which brings front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert; and the Touring package, which adds forged 20-inch wheels, a simulated suede headliner, upgraded leather upholstery and the Mark Levinson audio system. If a high-performance hybrid is more your speed, you can always specify the Sport package, which adds the Convenience package plus front sport seats with simulated suede inserts and the limited-slip diff. (This package can also be ordered with a carbon-fiber roof.) Finally, the Performance package takes the Sport package with carbon-fiber roof and adds an adaptive rear spoiler, an active rear steering system, variable-ratio steering, carbon-fiber kick plates and the simulated suede headliner.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Lexus LC 500h (3.5L V6 hybrid | CVT automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.4 / 10

Driving

6.5 / 10

Acceleration7.0 / 10
Braking5.5 / 10
Steering7.5 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability5.5 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.5 / 10
Noise & vibration7.5 / 10
Climate control7.5 / 10

Interior

7.5 / 10

Ease of use6.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.5 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility7.5 / 10
Quality9.0 / 10

Utility

6.0 / 10

Small-item storage6.0 / 10
Cargo space6.5 / 10

Technology

7.0 / 10

Audio & navigation7.0 / 10
Smartphone integration6.5 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control7.5 / 10

Driving6.5

The LC 500h's powertrain is less appealing in every way than the more affordable V8 option, save for fuel economy. It's not power-deficient, but it does add a palpable 150 pounds and some drivability issues and removes all the aural pleasure you would have enjoyed with the eight-cylinder.

Acceleration7.0

This LC's hybrid is quicker than its specs suggest, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in a reasonably quick 5 seconds. But it's not as punchy and satisfying as the V8 car. There are occasional power fluctuations when not at full throttle.

Braking5.5

The complicated hybrid system affects the way the LC 500h switches between regenerative and standard braking. The brake pedal's engagement can be inconsistent if you're driving in stop-and-go traffic, and the pedal feel is numb. Panic stops from 60 mph are stable and relatively respectable at 111 feet.

Steering7.5

The steering feels tuned more for comfort than toward performance. There's not much feedback on what the front tires are doing. But the steering is precise and weighted appropriately light for a grand tourer.

Handling6.5

As a grand-touring hybrid, the LC 500h performs as expected. It has superb weight balance and its run-flat tires stick decently. But tighter roads reveal its beefy curb weight, and the lack of feedback from the steering and the brakes doesn't help.

Drivability5.5

The incredibly complex and intriguing transmission combo of a CVT and a four-speed automatic is also the LC 500h's weak point, which ties in with the braking issues. Downshift response is lacking at times, and the transmission is busy and often uncertain of the actions it should take.

Comfort8.0

Our tester's standard seats are more comfortable than the optional sport seats and are appropriate for this impressively comfortable grand tourer. The ride is excellent, highway noise is minimal, and the climate control works very well when left to its own devices.

Seat comfort8.0

Our tester's standard seats are supportive, even though they have less bolstering than the optional sport seats. The seat cushioning is pleasantly supportive, but the seatback lacks height-adjustable lumbar. They may feel less ideal for bigger, wider body types.

Ride comfort8.5

The adaptive suspension is adept at absorbing large and small road imperfections. Even with big 20-inch wheels and stiff run-flat tires, the LC is comfortable without feeling disconnected from the road. That said, we were hard-pressed to notice much difference between different drive modes.

Noise & vibration7.5

There's some noticeable wind noise at freeway speeds and, depending on the road surface, some tire noise, too. But around town or on well-kept roads, the LC 500h is pleasantly quiet, especially when running in EV mode. The V6 hybrid's sound isn't as pleasant as the V8's.

Climate control7.5

The automatic climate control works well, and the automatic seat heating and cooling is a nice touch. Basic temperature adjustments are easy, and there are voice commands for several climate functions. But for full manual control, you need to use the touchpad system, which is very awkward.

Interior7.5

Good visibility and a comfortable, sporty driving position are the highlights. This Lexus is also easier to get in and out of than many low-slung coupes. The cabin is mostly very upscale, with a few exceptions. The biggest letdown is the frustrating touchpad infotainment interface.

Ease of use6.0

While everything's easy to reach, many controls are frustrating to use. Locating options in the infotainment system with its awkward haptic touchpad interface is one problem. The steering wheel controls take a bit of getting used to because not all are intuitively placed or labeled.

Getting in/getting out7.5

Access is slightly easier than in many sports cars thanks to a seat that's higher relative to the ground than ones in some competitors and a steering wheel that moves out of the way. But the long doors mean plenty of clearance is needed, and there's a high and wide sill to step over.

Driving position8.0

The seat feels appropriately low and snug inside the car thanks to a sporting position and the high beltline and armrests. Taller drivers will want more telescoping from the steering wheel. Otherwise the position is comfortable and provides a clear view of the gauges, controls and the road ahead.

Roominess7.0

The cabin is surprisingly small relative to the LC 500h's size, but it isn't out of line for the class. The bulky transmission tunnel and raked greenhouse sides mean you have little room to move. The rear seat is useless for adults or even taller children.

Visibility7.5

Visibility out the front and rear is surprisingly good, although the front end of the car is hard to judge because of the hood's slope and grille's bulbous shape. The small side mirrors and the thick rear roof pillars mean rear three-quarter visibility isn't great.

Quality9.0

Overall quality is exceptionally high with compelling interior design to match. Leather, simulated suede, and metal or metal-feeling plastics abound, and everything is assembled to a high level. It's an interior befitting a car of this class, and possibly beyond it.

Utility6.0

The LC 500h has very little usable space considering its size. Small-item storage is at a premium, without even a good spot to store your phone for easy access. The trunk is very small and gets hot quickly. The back seat is the most useful storage space in the vehicle.

Small-item storage6.0

The door pockets, glovebox and armrest bin are all small. The cupholders are poorly placed: One is limited by overhanging trim and the other obstructs the touchpad. The armrest bin is the only option for phone storage, but it requires two steps to access and only hinges open facing the driver.

Cargo space6.5

At 4.7 cubic feet, the trunk is smaller than both the standard LC 500's trunk and Porsche 911's. It's small and shallow with a high liftover, so you'll be limited to a couple of small bags. There's no extra storage under the trunk floor, and the trunk gets quite hot after even relatively short drives.

Child safety seat accommodation6.0

There are LATCH points for rear outboard seats, but rear access is difficult enough already, and the sorely limited rear-seat space means that finding a gauge that fits and maneuvering it into place would both be Herculean tasks.

Technology7.0

It's unfortunate that a car, which looks so space age on the outside, should be saddled with Lexus' technology on the inside. While the trick sliding gauge cluster is a nice touch, the infotainment system is particularly frustrating, and voice controls yield inconsistent results.

Audio & navigation7.0

Our car's Mark Levinson system was truly excellent, but the nav system just isn't up to par. It requires a precise address, otherwise finding a destination is somewhere between "very involved" and "impossible" unless you call destination assist. And talking with a human is an awkward solution.

Smartphone integration6.5

Bluetooth works quite well, and the ability to browse your phone's content through the Bluetooth connection is nice, but the car lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Enform apps are available, but you only get a limited selection of apps, and not all are preferable to their standard counterparts.

Driver aids7.5

A full suite of driver aids is included. The rearview camera works well enough, although considering the car's size, a 360 camera would be nice. Forward and rear parking sensors help. Adaptive cruise mostly works well, but it can occasionally be unpredictably overreactive and requires minding.

Voice control7.5

Voice controls offer a lot of functionality, and there are spoken and on-screen guides, but results are inconsistent until you use the voice-training program. Frustratingly, if you make a mistake in some processes, which are several steps long, you have to start over rather than going back a step.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.