You can sum up my feelings about the 2018 Lexus LC 500h in just three words.
Sign. Me. Up.
It has looks. It has technology. It has performance.
Let’s start with the looks. The LC 500h is not just beautiful, it’s stunning. I have always thought that the Aston Martin Vantage Coupe is the most beautiful car on the planet. I’m not going to say that the LC 500h will knock the Vantage of that lofty perch, but it will definitely give it a run for its money.
We first saw the LC 500h shape back in 2012 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It was a concept called the LF-LC. The reality is that on those occasions when concept cars morph into production vehicles there always seems to be something lost. They’re just not as dynamic as that original shape. Lexus did an amazingly good job of bringing that original vision to market. It’s the kind of car you just want to sit on a stool in the garage and stare at. One of my co-workers kept calling it the Batmobile just because it’s so striking.
Time to talk performance. The reality is that this isn’t the fastest car around. It doesn’t have extreme acceleration. You can get that in this hybrid’s sister car, the gas-powered LC 500 that delivers 471 horsepower. What I loved with the hybrid version was that this was a car for every taste. There were times when I wanted to motor around in Eco mode. After all, you can’t always blast from stop light to stop light while commuting. And there were times when all I wanted to do was accelerate. I’d switch over to the Sport or Sport+ mode and it was off to the races.
The LC 500h has a gas engine that will deliver 295 horsepower. It also has two electric motors that pump the total out put up to 354 horses. Once again, that’s a far cry from some of the heavy horsepower hitters out there, but I’m OK with that.
What’s interesting is the way the power is delivered. The LC 500h actually has two transmissions. It has a continuously variable transmission mated up to a traditional transmission. When you’re in Eco mode, the CVT takes over. I generally don’t like CVTs because while they’re good for fuel mileage, they are mediocre to drive. They just kind of drone their way up to speed. Maybe it’s because the LC 500h has more horsepower than most CVT cars, but the Lexus wasn’t quite as obnoxious. Switch to the Sport or Sport+ modes and the manual transmission kicks in. The result of the coupled system is basically a ten-speed tranny. Frankly, I found it very fun to drive and spent plenty of time in the Sport+ mode.
Of course hybrids are all about the mileage. The gas version of the LC 500 gets 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 19 mpg. The 500h bumps that up to 26 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 30 mpg. I averaged 30 mpg early on, but after a while I was having too much fun in the Sport+ mode and eventually wound up getting 28 mpg. Still that’s better than I should have gotten since most of my driving was on city streets. And it’s significantly better than I would have gotten with the non-hybrid version.
If the outside is beautiful, the inside is purposefully elegant. The lines are clean and simple. The display is perfectly integrated into the dash. I liked the toggle switches for the climate control. The seats were wonderfully comfortable. There is a back seat, but like most couples it’s just for show… or emergencies. You won’t be impressed with the size of the trunk. It’s not for golfers. You can throw in a couple of overnight bags and that’s about it. I’m OK with that.
As for technology, my test car had intuitive park assist and blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert. It had lane keeper assist. Perhaps the one week spot on the car is the Remote Touch system that controls the cars functions. It’s basically a trackpad that sits on the center console. You use it to guide the displays. While you can control the sensitivity, I still found it awkward and touchy. I’d rather just see a hockey puck-style spinner like some other cars use.
Base price for a gas-powered LC 500 is $92,000. The hybrid version bumps that up to $96,510. The sticker for my test car was $108,505 delivered. It had about $11,000 in options including the nearly $6,000 performance package which included Alcantara seats, carbon fiber roof, active rear steering, active roof spoiler, carbon fiber door sill.
You could pay more for something more exotic, but why? The valet is still going to park you out front.
You could also buy something with more horsepower and pure acceleration. But if you want the full package of beauty, grace, technology and performance, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that delivers as much as the LC 500h.
Like I said, sign me up.