By on December 11, 2017

2018 Lexus LC 500 grey front quarter

2018 Lexus LC 500

5.0-liter V8, DOHC (471 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm; 398 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm)

Ten-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

16 city / 26 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

14.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $92,995 (U.S.)

As Tested: $100,720 (U.S.)

Prices include $995 freight charge.

For several years, outlets around the Web have been alternately asking and telling us about the impending doom facing cars. That “millennials” don’t want cars. That “kids these days” don’t want to learn to drive, as their parents will chauffeur them wherever they need to go.

It’s certainly anecdotal, but in my brief time driving the new 2018 Lexus LC 500, kids and millennials alike were absolutely astonished by it. I’ve never driven anything that attracts so much attention.

The youngster shoving shopping carts at Kroger respectfully asked to photograph the car as I ran in for milk. The twentysomething – in a similarly-stunning G-Body Hurst/Olds, incidentally! – driving down my suburban street turned around and cruised by slowly for another look. The high school football team gawking – “Yo, that’s a Lexus LC 500!” (seriously) – as I negotiated the treacherous speedbumps past the stadium to retrieve my kid from softball practice. These youths were certain that, even if they didn’t know exactly what this car was, they had a primal need to get closer.

2018 Lexus LC 500 rear quarter

It drew a different sort of attention, too. It seems I’m not meant to drive Lexus V8 coupes. Last year, in reviewing the blazing orange RC F, I narrowly avoided rousing the local constabulary at triple-digit speeds. A year later, I did get pulled over in the LC. No ticket, thankfully, but I did drive a bit more cautiously after that encounter.

The styling is at once outrageous and restrained. The LC wears perhaps the best version of Lexus’ signature “spindle” grille, with a magnificent jewel-like texture. The pair of ridges on either side of the hood extend from the grille, evoking an old-school muscle car power bulge. But there are few superfluous details on this beast (the big scoops ahead of the rear wheels are almost subtle), at least on the Smoky Granite of my test car. The optional carbon fiber roof panel doesn’t stand out with this dark grey finish, though the polished spears that run along the rain rails do distract a bit – they remind me of a vestigial roof rack on a crossover, which is completely out of character for this big coupe.

2018 Lexus LC 500 front

The raucous 471-horsepower 5.0-liter, four-cam V8 positively growls with each trip through the gears, and lets out a menacing bark with each downshift of the 10-speed automatic transmission. I’ll admit that I played the shift paddles a bit more than necessary to encourage the auditory theatrics, and went through more tunnels with the windows lowered than typical.

2018 Lexus LC 500 rear

I need to get the LC 500 on a track to see how it manages the convergence of power and weight. Lexus quotes a curb weight of 4,280 pounds, which seems massive considering how many lightweight materials – such as aluminum and carbon fiber – are used in building this beast. It doesn’t feel quite so ponderous when driving spiritedly, I’ll grant. The weight is felt mostly on the interstate, when expansion joints and potholes transmit a steady kickdrum via the 21-inch alloys shod with short-sidewall Michelin Pilots.

The steering was direct and well weighted – even a touch heavy in parking lot maneuvers. Many cars with such wide tires tend to wander with grooves on the interstate, but I found the LC 500 tracked beautifully at highway speeds.  I will note that once the 10-speed automatic got up into the top four overdrive gears, it seemed to hunt for the right ratio a bit more than I like. When in automatic mode, it shifts seamlessly – the only perceptible difference was in engine note and the tachometer itself – but I’d prefer the gearbox pick a gear and let the engine’s torque manage minor variances in terrain while maintaining a steady speed.

I’m not an audiophile, so I can’t pick out the subtle differences in a particular passage of music from one audio system to another, but the optional Mark Levinson system in the LC 500 sounds stellar. It makes the imperfect audio quality on satellite quite good. The red leather and Alcantara seats are perfectly supportive – I only wish I needed to make a long solo trip in my time with the big coupe. The bolsters are firm but not punishing, at least in the front seats.

2018 Lexus LC 50 infotainment

I can’t imagine many people shopping for a six-figure luxury coupe care much about the rear seating accommodations. That pair of cushions and seat belts are meant more for a couple bags of groceries, or perhaps a pocket dog. However, I believe it’s my duty as a reviewer to use my test cars as a daily driver whenever possible – which means hauling my wife and kids wherever they need to go.

2018 Lexus LC 500 seats

I can assure you that the Lexus LC 500 is decidedly not a family car. My two girls, 11 and 9 years of age, can indeed fit in the rear seats, but if I expect to drive the car, they must fold their legs up crosswise – placing their shoes on the lovely Alcantara. Sorry, Lexus – thankfully, it wasn’t a rainy or snowy week while I reviewed your car. There simply isn’t room for their legs to go between the rear lower cushion and the front seatback. The low roofline compounds the problem for my eldest. When cornering at speed, her head would knock against the swooping C-pillar.

So, forget the kids – the Lexus LC 500 is a high-speed express for solo individuals or couples traveling. Be ready to stop frequently on that journey, however, as this V8 is thirsty. The EPA quotes 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg highway, but in my city-focused driving, I only managed 14.2 mpg of premium fuel. I’m sure if I laid off the right pedal a bit and stayed out of Sport mode, my mileage (as they say) may have varied, but the V8 is intoxicating.

2018 Lexus LC 500 dash

I’ve yet to drive the typical competitors for the Lexus LC – I’d imagine the BMW M6 and the Aston Martin DB11 would compare quite well. For my imaginary money, however, I’d look hard at this Lexus. Certainly, brand prestige still favors the legacy marques from Europe, but the elegant styling and stellar road manners – not to mention the reputation Lexus has earned – makes the 2018 Lexus LC 500 a forgivable, if not smart, choice.

Just drive safely, and exercise better right-foot judgement than yours truly.

2018 Lexus LC 500 profile

[Images: © 2017 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars]

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74 Comments on “2018 Lexus LC 500 Review – Grabbing Attention From All Sides (Wanted Or Otherwise)...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Awesome looking, but about that weight…man 4280 pounds? I’d have guessed the target should be about 700 less.

  • avatar

    A few things:

    -I can see what they were doing with the styling, and indeed the rear end is reminiscent of the lovely SC400 – but it’s all too much, and the Spindle ruins it.

    -The red leather grab handle for the passenger is big and ugly, and too intrusive. It makes the passenger side look like the seat in a roller coaster. Surely it serves little function, and needs to go.

    -At the rear, the panel gap on the trunk is too big. I can see a seam in there on the left side. No bueno.

    -The DB11 is spectacular in person, but at double the price it’s not a competitor. That’s just aiming out of this thing’s price range. The M6 and S-Class coupe are more competitors here, along with perhaps the 911 for a more sporting buyer.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Probably a nice enough car, but to my eyes, it’s syill “Chicken of the Sea” tuna fish, along with most other Toyota products.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’m not sure prospective purchasers in this class are deeply interested in a repeat Impala buyer’s perception of the Lexus brand as budget luxury. That holds about as much water as a Camry owner opining about the Cadillac CTS-V or CT6.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Really? Are you a prospective purchaser of one of these cars? Would you take the advice of a Camry owner on one of these cars? Would it be worse or better if the person had also owned a string of Borgward Isabellas?

        Everyone has an opinion on these cars, really on any car featured here. It’s a fact of life, not everyone is going to love it. There’s no need to snipe at fellow poster…

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Nope.
          Nope.
          Had to look that one up. Nice ones are going for a lot of money, so maybe.

          The wording is harsher than I intended but the editing function is very short-lived. The comment I was responding too, however, is nothing more than shallow negative brand bias.

          Camry Guy:

          “Eh, the Z06 is fast enough I suppose but to me it’s just Walmart furniture with a big price tag like every other GM product”

          Tell me that wouldn’t bother somebody. The corollary to not everyone liking a car is not everyone liking an opinion.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    butter face…

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I love it and would rock one if I could….mind you, I’m about one of a dozen people that love the GS-F sedan as well so what do I know?

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      My imaginary lottery garage has space for the GS-F but not this until my 10 year old daughter flies the coupe.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Why, you want to spare her eyesight? I mean if it is lottery winner’s garage why does it matter if it isn’t suitable to drop your daughter off at school or where ever? Just take one of the 1/2 dozen or more other cars in the garage.

  • avatar

    I saw one of these (same color combo even) driving around town the other day and it pulled up at a light next to me. I really like it in person.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    There’s one of these in my garage and every single day I drive by it, I keep getting this feeling that I’m missing something. Like the car is nice, and I’m sure capable, but I’m not drawn to it. There’s some element of excitement that doesn’t really seem to grab me.

    In my same garage, there is an AMG GT, and a 911 Carrera S. Not exactly the same price point, but I find myself staring and thinking about those cars far more than the LC500.

    • 0 avatar
      Trauto

      Likewise.

      Not a single line, curve or angle that compels repeat viewing for me, somehow. The RC elicits the same reaction in me — a car I no doubt would have considered, but for the styling.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    “When cornering at speed”
    Whats does that mean?
    Light speed?
    Warp speed?
    Ramming speed?

  • avatar
    Waterview

    If I were in the market for a luxury coupe, I’d go in a different direction, but in defense of the Lexus above, that particular color doesn’t show the best. I saw two in Chicago (one white, and one blue) and they both were very attractive. Ingress and egress was a bit tricky for me and I’m on the smaller side. The standard in this class is still the Mercedes SL500.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Beautiful car; wonder why it’s so heavy. Same ol’ Lexus infotainment setup, or is Apple Carplay available?

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    Contrary to Porsche 911, Ferrari, Aston Martin and other sport cars
    this Lexus is quiet and comfortable.(and reliable)
    I drove the car and I was impressed with steering (Lexus RC has horrible steering)
    The sound is mind-blowing.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      The 911 is quiet, comfortable, and reliable.

      The Lexus will, most likely, be reliable.

      Lastly, I seriously doubt shoppers in this segment are overly concerned about reliability ratings.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I caught a picture of one on the road last week, being driven by an attractive young Asian woman. It was painted some palladium silver color (looking at their Web site now, maybe it’s Atomic Silver).

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Probably a great used buy in 3 years when the leases expire. Toyota reliability in a slightly off-brand luxury brand coupe in an SUV world – $40,000 or less as low mileage certified used Lexus in 2020.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I hate to pop that bubble because I wish it were true, but 40k for a 3 year old Lexus doesn’t quite reach this high.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        3-4 year old BMW 6 series are going for around $40K in the Seattle area, and I’m not sure a Lexus coupe will do better than that.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The big Lexus sedans do better than their Benz/BMW counterparts on resale, I expect entirely because of reliability. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the same with the LC, especially given that it’s also better-looking than a 6.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          …3-4 year old BMW 6 series are going for around $40K in the Seattle area, and I’m not sure a Lexus coupe will do better than that…

          You would be hard pressed to find a car with higher depreciation than the higher level BMWs. Lexus, on the other had, hold their value quite well. Look at what a 10 year old LS goes for compared to what it was when new, and contrast that with any 5 or 7 series BMW.

          I have to add that Lexus’ styling is an abomination . Who the hell can consider that maw attractive. If this was a bird the mother would have eaten it.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Seen this up close and sat in it (a hybrid model in ‘infrared’), and it’s totally stunning. Yes, it has flaws, and I think the interior is a bit over the top, but it’s possibly the most interesting and beautiful car design I’ve seen in any car made since the 70’s. It helps Lexus a lot that they don’t have that much ‘heritage’ to consider which in some cases make even good looking cars look a bit bland because they are just continuations of older designs. And it helps even more that a few years ago I would never expect them to make a goood looking car, like ever.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    I’m not a fan at all of Lexus’ current design language, or the Predator grill, but on this car it works. It just looks good.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Great looking car other than that chrome roof bar. I’m betting that the aftermarket will have a fix for it. A visit to Trim Line would be a quick fix.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is what Lexus had in mind when they invented the spindle grille. It’s just gorgeous. Unfortunately they’ll be too old when I don’t have kid hauling duties anymore.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’m in no position to judge how competitive this is in the $100K luxury coupe market, but what I can say is that unlike the BMW 650 this car makes me wish I could afford a $100K car.

  • avatar
    jammyjo

    It’s undeniably ugly with the Predator grill. If they closed up the bottom half, it has half a chance of looking pretty. Thought big grills weren’t necessary for cooling anymore, and they cause more aerodynamic drag. Any cars with big grills and untidy butts look unfinished to me.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    After all this time, you think people would understand Lexus does it’s own thing. It doesn’t see itself as competing on pure HP, lateral-G, 0-100 times, it sees itself as competing over time too. If my old GS is anything to go by, this car will remain reliable and provide a nearly as-new feeling far, far longer than its rivals. Remember when Japanese companies were said to have 100-year plans, rather than next-quarter outlooks?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    B&B commentariat.

    The Corvette is 3550 pounds? WHAT A BLOATED PIG!

    The Lexux LC 500 is 4280 pounds? A work of art!

    Obligatory, “well, it does have 4 seats instead of 2,” even though said seats are really just a glorified parcel shelf as noted in above article in 3, 2, 1…”

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      In my opinion no Corvette has looked this good since they removed the chrome front bumper in ’73. (except maybe the ’78-79)
      The Lexus owes more to the Lincoln Continentals MK coupes than any Corvette, so it’s supposed to be heavy

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      You know that makes no sense, right? That the same people kvetching about the Camaro’s curb weight may not be the same people complimenting the LC? And that nearly all of the comments regarding the LC’s weight have been negative? Let’s follow your lead:
      .
      .
      .
      B&B commentariat:

      “Lexus is so boring! Why don’t they do something interesting instead of cater to sheeple?”

      –Looks at attention-grabbing RWD grand tourer with naturally aspirated V8 and 7000 rpm of personality–

      “Whatever. It has an ugly grill. The REAL story the small backseat that no one but me is pathologically fixating upon. And check out this grievance I’ve fabricated whole-cloth about reaction to the Camaro’s weight even though *no one* has mentioned that car in this comment thread. DON’T YOU SEE THE CONSPIRACY?”
      .
      .
      .
      What is it with the weird little cabal of hardcore GM fans around here that just cannot get over Toyota? Sure, no one wants the Malibu, buff books are bored by the Cruze, and Cadillac is rudderless despite making some interesting machinery, but you still have the highly-rated Camaro (bloated pig that it is) and remarkable Corvette and a very strong presence in the full size pickup and SUV markets. Yet you still feel compelled to be the living embodiment of the peeing Calvin bumper sticker.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        “What is it with the weird little cabal of hardcore GM fans around here that just cannot get over Toyota?”

        What it is, is a decade or more of GM-bashing that is sometimes warranted and other times not. Eventually it just became a trope around here, an easy mark for people who never even rode/worked on/or especially owned one of the cars to criticize them to the point of ridiculousness.

        But, more notably, are the Toyota (Honda and other Japanese) fanbois who put up a withering defense of their favorite marque by imitating the people they claim to detest. It’s a funny way to prove your righteousness.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          No one is bashing GM on this thread so how is your comment relevant?

          If you see me criticizing GM cars or general owners rather than responding to persecution-complex GM fans about their apropos-of-nothing Toyota sniping, you’ll have a point.

          You’re going to have to look for quite some time though, since even in my irritated response I managed to compliment a fair amount of Chevy’s fleet.

          Say hello to the cabal for me.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I’m ok with the way this car looks even the spindle grille as we expect outlandish design on a coupe.

    I’m even ok with this thing in fanta orange etc.

    These cues may not work on a SUV or conservative sedan but Lexus can go all out on a coupe.

    I think some companies can make a conservative looking coupe and it still looks great… the weaker ones resort to this.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I can see people liking the front and side views, but that back end is horrendous – and I say this as someone who used to dream of the lovely sc300. (You know – back when Lexus offered manual transmissions.)

    I can’t say I got much out of this review – I guess the reviewer has little knowledge of the market for this car and its competitors.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree completely.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yep. I learned the back seat is useless, the styling is controversial and attention-grabbing, the transmission with 10 forward gears can be a bit indecisive, the powerful V-8 is wonderful to play with but painful to support (as in poor MPG), and its very expensive. All of that was pretty much a given.

      Next, we’ll hear the Mirage is good on gas but slow, and a high-roof Transit can carry a lot of cargo. File this one under “well, duh”.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Mirrored taillights? Intriguing, but the GS-F is real-world better, IMHO.

  • avatar
    stuki

    It has elements of so many different interpretations of “cool.” From 90s sports coupe, to Stealth Plane to Manga to something ZZ Top would feature in a video. To Tesla….. Retro, Futuristic and Steam Punk, all rolled into one. Ditto for hyper urban future Tokyo, and badass rock’n-roll Redneck.

    Even to those who may not like it per se; it’s still just cool.

  • avatar

    When I drove this, I was really hoping it would be an effortless, refined express cruiser with a touch of naughtiness. A car for the man who doesn’t want or need a Porsche 911 Turbo.

    Alas, the ride is firmer than a 911 and that V8, while pleasingly menacing, lacks any subtlety. I think it’s a shame. If Lexus could have toned the LC 500 down a bit, it would have a USP.

    I shudder to say it, but perhaps it should have been (slightly) more like the SC 430.

  • avatar
    JMII

    At the mall over the weekend they had one of these on display surrounded by velvet ropes and several “win me” raffle entry boxes. It is one of those cars that honestly looks like its from the future… like a concept car come to life. However to me the grill still doesn’t work here and wheels are comically oversized. I wish instead of going taller the deep dish trend would come back. This car would look amazing with wheels that appear wider then tall. Instead it looks like it has the wheels off a train, with not enough meat on them. $100K for Lexus is starting to push the boundaries of the brand. They are reliable luxury products, but trying to crank the performance to 11 while still maintaining that image puts Lexus head-to-head with some established players that are deadly serious in their mission.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Undeniably sexy

    • 0 avatar
      ra_pro

      If you like your sex with aliens.

      This is not a good-looking car in my eyes inside or out although I am willing to give it a benefit of doubt in thinking that perhaps the pics don’t do it justice.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I’m not too smitten with the C-pillar or the automatic transmission, but this is still the best looking car on the market. I just got back from La Jolla, where the streets are filled with the stuff Car and Driver readers touch themselves to. The LC500 cuts a sharp profile in a sea of excess surface excitement. It’s so beautiful that it justifies all the shamefully spindled SUVs.

  • avatar
    415s30

    It’s sexy, poor man’s LFA. I want one when they depreciate, hopefully they do…

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