2018 Lexus LC 500 Review - Grabbing Attention From All Sides (Wanted Or Otherwise)
2018 Lexus LC 500
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[Images: © 2017 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars]
Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.
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