Driving the 2021 Lexus LC 500 stirs the senses more than most other cars on sale today. The sultry drop-top pleases the eye with stunning design, while a world-class interior provides plenty to smell and touch. But it’s the buttery smooth sound of the 5.0-liter V8 underhood that wins the sensory battle above everything else.
Experiencing all of these feelings at once makes for a truly special time behind the wheel, but it also brings forth a worthwhile question: How much longer will we get to do this? With the EV age upon us, the rumbling thrill of a V8-powered convertible like the Lexus LC is a special one. And shy of a Bentley that costs twice the price, the LC is the best option out there… for now.
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|2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible
|471 Horsepower / 398 Pound-Feet
|$101,100 + $1,025 Destination Charge
Gallery: 2021 Lexus LC Convertible: Review
- Exterior Color: Nightfall Mica w/Sand Soft Top
- Interior Color: Toasted Caramel
- Wheel Size: 21-inch
A perfect ten doesn’t come without debate, but the LC 500 is an absolute showstopper. Strangely, we don’t love the Nightfall Mica blue paint on this test car, as it hides some of the LC’s elegant curves and details. Our first drive car came in a gleaming shade of Liquid Platinum Silver, which seemed to favor the LC’s proportions better.
Color aside, the exterior detailing is nothing short of mesmerizing. We adore the door handles, which are flush with the bodywork, and the taillights, which have mirrors built into the assembly to reflect the light more elegantly, and go flat black with not on. This car has the optional 21-inch wheels with a chrome and black five-spoke design. The only questionable bit is the tan-colored top, which does match the interior, but commands too much attention when not stowed away.
We have zero problems, however, with that same rich color spread throughout the interior; it covers the seats, dash, door panels, and even the steering wheel. One could argue that a secondary color to break things up might be nice, but this is such a unique interior that the monotone doesn’t bother us.
There are details abound, too. The seats feature gorgeous criss-cross stitching all over the bolsters, which echo the tapering lines etched into the door panels. The exterior door handles got a shout-out, but it’s really the interior pieces that deserve the attention. They stick out like tiny decorative statues, made from a single piece of aluminum.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Lexus LC
- Seating Capacity: 4
- Seating Configuration: 2/2
- Cargo Capacity: 3.4 Cubic-Feet
The LC walks a fine line between grand tourer and sports car with its specs, but when it comes to comfort, this is a Lexus through and through. Driver and passenger are treated to big, coddling leather seats, which include heating, ventilation, and a neck-warming system built into the headrest. Standard 10-way seat adjustability and power tilt/telescopic steering makes it beyond easy to find the right driving position.
This car has the $5,290 Touring package which adds neck-warming, a heated steering wheel, two fat Lexus emblems branded in the headrest, and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. That’s a pricey package, but those are some great features for top-down driving
Like most convertibles, the backseat isn’t for anyone that you enjoy spending time with. Any driver pushing 6 feet will sit in a position that precludes a reasonably sized human from sitting behind them. And if you do manage to squeeze someone in the back, the seat is so upright that anything longer than a ten-minute cruise is untenable.
Rolling on 21-inch metal with thin rubber surrounding them, the LC gives way to any major bump in the road – we’d stick with the standard 20-inch wheels and save $2,695 in the process. Enormous potholes aside, the ride quality is otherwise very smooth with little commotion during our extensive road test. We’re also thrilled with the roof-up noise insulation, which feels not too far off the hardtop LC; If you want to mute the sounds of the city, the cabin does a fantastic job with the car sealed up.
Take A Look At LC:
- Center Display: 10.3 Inches
- Head-Up Display: Optional
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: No
Good news: There is a brand new Lexus infotainment system on the way that totally changes the tech game for the brand. Bad news: The LC doesn’t have it. This car is stuck with the non-touchscreen version of Lexus’s dreaded Enform infotainment. The setup includes a 10.3-inch center display paired with a flat trackpad for scrolling through the many menus and settings.
To be blunt, interacting with this system is the LC’s single biggest downfall. It’s annoying, difficult to follow, and at times borderline dangerous considering how long you need to take your eyes off the road. The saving grace is standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which at least cut down on the neverending menus, although using the trackpad doesn’t make using either a fun experience.
There are still a few wins in the tech column. The partially digital instrument cluster remains a fun touch with its blue rev-counting needle and different themes for driving modes. We also applaud the 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system which floods the petite cabin with amazing sound.
- Engine: 5.0-Liter V8
- Output: 471 Horsepower / 398 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: 10-Speed Automatic
Picking up where this review started, the 5.0-liter V8 beneath the LC’s long hood is a total riot. It will be missed when its time in the sun comes to an end. We liken its sound to a Japanese take on a Ford Mustang GT – and much like the pony car, the Lexus makes plenty of good noises as it rips along, especially on upshifts.
The only available transmission is a 10-speed automatic, which the driver can control via two aluminum paddles mounted to the steering wheel. Accelerating in the LC is a surprisingly tame affair – 4.6 seconds to 60 – with predictable power delivery and gentle, somewhat lazy shifting from the gearbox. Switching the driving mode selector to Sport or Sport Plus brings more exhaust noise to the party, complemented by sharper throttle response. But even in these harder-core settings, the LC’s powertrain maintains a smoothness to it that makes it feel more like a GT and less like a supercar.
From straight-line blasts to high-speed cornering, the LC loses its edge just a bit. Tossing it into a turn, the Lexus feels heavy and somewhat reluctant to change direction quickly. Now’s the time to let you know that this car weighs 4,540 pounds – roughly 1,000 pounds more than a comparable Porsche 911. That said, the six-piston brakes do a great job of slowing down the big GT car, with an easy-to-modulate pedal.
We’d stop short of recommending the LC for any serious track use, but for a bit of spirited top-down driving on the way to or from the golf course, you could certainly do worse.
- Driver Assitance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
The LC comes standard with the aptly named Lexus Safety System+. This includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams. Lexus includes this kit on models half the price of the LC, so it makes sense that everything transfers to the flagship. The company’s lane-keeping system tends to be a little aggressive with how much it intervenes (and how quickly), but it can be switched off with a single button press. Using the ACC during rush hour was wonderful, with the Lexus slowing calmly all the way down to a stop.
- City: 15 MPG
- Highway: 25 MPG
- Combined: 18 MPG
With that big V8 to feed, the LC 500 requires premium fuel and returns 15 miles per gallon city, 25 highway, and 18 combined. If you are concerned about consumption, Lexus does still make a hybrid LC, although you cannot get it in convertible form.
There are more efficient German options out there. A comparable Porsche 911 with its turbocharged six-cylinder does 20 mpg combined. Even better, the Mercedes-AMG E53 and its mild-hybrid inline six-cylinder achieves 23 mpg combined.
- Base Price: $101,100 + $1,025 Destination Charge
- Trim Base Price: $102,125
- As-Tested Price: $112,380
With a base price of $102,125 (including a $1,025 destination charge), the LC Convertible is a few thousand more than its hardtop counterpart. Our tester packs on the options with the rather pricey $2,695 wheels and an even more expensive $5,290 Touring Package that adds semi-aniline leather, a better sound system, and “climate concierge” that ties the steering wheel and seat heater in with the automatic temperature controls.
A limited-slip differential with Yamaha performance dampers embedded in the chassis to soak up vibrations, comes in at a bargain price of $460, while the head-up display adds another $900. All told, this car comes in at $112,380. Of those add-ons, the wheels are the only thing that we would skip over. The rest truly make it a better car.
Looking at the closest competitors, the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet starts $30,000 more expensive and an Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is 20 grand more than that. Each of those makes the Lexus look like a legit bargain. Only the BMW 840i sneaks underneath the LC’s price, at $94,400. The Porsche is the logical choice, but the Lexus is the most emotional of the bunch.
LC 500 Convertible Competitor Reviews:
Gallery: 2021 Lexus LC Convertible: Review
2021 Lexus LC Convertible