By on March 22, 2018

2018 Lexus LC 500h

2018 Lexus LC 500h

3.5-liter V6 (295 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm; 256.7 lb-ft @ 5,900 rpm) combined with an electric motor for 354 total system horsepower.

Multi-stage automatic, rear-wheel drive

26 city / 35 highway / 30 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

8.9 city, 7.0 highway, 8.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $96,510 (U.S) / $118,600 (Canada)

As Tested: $101,445 (U.S.) / $118,600 (Canada)

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $3,045 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

There’s no denying that the Lexus LC is a sexy-looking car.

Sure, there will be some detractors – no design is universally loved – but there is little wrong, at least to my eye, with the Lexus’ looks.

At least on the outside.

Step inside, and the perspective shifts. The cockpit also looks good – but that form comes with a functional cost. One that could have been avoided, perhaps.

I speak of two things: the seemingly out-of-place control stalks that mar the edges of the instrument cluster and the continually confounding touchpad infotainment system controller.

Questionable design decisions are a shame, because even in hybrid form, the LC is a fun sport coupe to play with. I didn’t get to drive it as hard as I’d like, mostly due to cold weather, but when I tromped the gas, it roared and leapt forward in a promising manner. Even urban driving showed that the LC has the steering/handling setup needed for hard driving on the right type of road.

[Get new and used Lexus LC 500h pricing here!]

On balance, performance matters more than a few misplaced control stalks and an infotainment controller that deserves a rethink. And this is where the LC shines.

2018 Lexus LC 500h

The hybrid powertrain combines a 3.5-liter, 295-horsepower V6 and electric motor for 354 total system horsepower. It’s a torquey little thing – kick the gas, give it a second, and whoosh, scenery flies by at a fairly quick clip. One note: Lexus doesn’t list total system torque (I asked), but the V6 is rated at a tick under 257 lb-ft. That number feels low, so I suspect the electric motor is playing a large role.

You also get rear-wheel drive and a “multi-stage hybrid” automatic transmission, which has four gear ratios listed in the spec sheet.

The steering feels dialed in, with about the right amount of feel and weight, and, while low-slung looks don’t always translate to a harsh ride, you will feel the worst of road imperfections and potholes. Speed bumps/speed tables are also not pleasant, and while I didn’t attempt to navigate a curbed driveway during my time with the car, it appears that those curbs and the LC’s fascia won’t mix well.

2018 Lexus LC 500h

Kept away from potholes and the worst road scars born of Midwest winters, the LC was stiff but fine during commuting duty, though I confess I probably have a higher tolerance for tightly wound vehicles than most.

The Lexus’ front seats are helpful here. I don’t mention seats much in reviews, but these thrones hold occupants firmly in place while remaining comfy for longer stints.

Of course, this is a 2+2 sports coupe, meaning the rear seat is pretty much useless – getting back there for photos was an exercise in gymnastics, and I can’t imagine most adults being able to sit there for more than a few minutes. I’m sure LC buyers know this going in, but it bears repeating – your only passengers will be parcels, and maybe small children.

2018 Lexus LC 500h

Question Lexus’ decision to offer the LC with a hybrid powertrain if you want, but it doesn’t detract from performance. Not in the way odd design decisions cut into this car’s interior looks.

It’s not just a looks thing – both the stalks and the touchpad are a bit of a pain to use. It’s one thing for function to follow form, but another to have it led blindly around. It detracts from the user experience. Not a lot, but enough to make me grumpy.

Especially given the cost involved here. My test car based at $96K, and options (an all-weather package including heated steering wheel; head-up display; Convenience Package including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, plus park assist; and a Touring Package including upgraded leather seat surfaces, Alcantara headliner, and premium audio) brought the total to a tick over $100K. If I’m dropping that kind of coin on a sexy sports coupe, I don’t want to be let down by the interior.

2018 Lexus LC 500h

Another auto journalist I know said the hybrid powertrain “neuters” the car in his review. I disagree with that contention – the LC is still a blast to drive in hybrid guise. It’s just a shame that operating the interior controls is an exercise in frustration that takes away from an otherwise good design.

Sexy design is great, but drivers still need to use the controls. Lexus will do well to remember that come refresh time.

[Images: 2018 @ Tim Healey/TTAC]

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36 Comments on “2018 Lexus LC 500h Review – Good Design, Bad Design...”

  • avatar

    Cougars and trophy wives will soon be driving these, slowly, in left lanes and in front of you.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t seen either driving anything but high-end luxury SUVs in years. Always with a phone clasped to thier ear.

      These will be driven by Asian frat-boys.

  • avatar

    The next 70 yo and up retirement vehicle.

  • avatar

    I’ve reviewed pictures, and the red and black interior looks like a mess pretty much all the time. The camel colored interior is far superior, and should always be chosen for this car.

  • avatar

    The front license plate looks hideous on that hideous grille. Front license plates look even worse on the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio though. Lose the front plate.

  • avatar

    Probably the least-ugly implementation of the Lexus PredatorMouth so far because they did a good job of making the body’s lines flow into it. However, while I’m not usually one to get bent out of shape about front license plates (I’ve lived my whole life in places that require them so I’m used to them), this is one case where the front plate looks absolutely ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, this and the RC350 look genuinely aggressive and good (IMO). Why they saw fit to try and force this “agression” and drooping maw on everything from crossovers to BOF SUVs (where they totally ruing approach angle for those that care).

  • avatar

    The other day, I saw one of these while walking to lunch – it was the V-8, in that gorgeous metallic red Lexus does. Not only does it look gorgeous, it sounds gorgeous.

    I want one. Bad.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. The day I bought my LX, I was sitting in the showroom watching the Super Bowl and waiting for some paperwork to be completed. Suddenly right behind me there was a loud bark followed by a muscle car idle, sounding almost like a C6 Corvette through Flowmasters. After jumping three feet in the air, I recovered my composure and turned around. Someone had bought the display LC500 and staff were driving it off the showroom floor. I’ve never heard another Lexus sound quite like that, not even the Fs.

  • avatar

    I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the LC feels dated to me. Maybe I’m just brainwashed by the whole “4-door coupes and crossovers are what’s cool” talk, but a big coupe like this just doesn’t seem like something that will generate a lot of buzz for the brand. Like, it’s cool they did it, but I don’t think anyone really cares. Lexus’ original SC was cool, the second one was not, and their coupes don’t have a big following or legacy. Maybe Caddy could get away with a new Eldorado coupe and make a splash, but Lexus doesn’t have that kind of history.

  • avatar

    I saw one of these under a car cover in a warehouse last spring, next to the owner’s boat. That was, in my opinion, the best this car will ever look.

    Something about Lexus’s “advanced” designs does not age well. The SC430 was a horrid joke by halfway through its life, and I’d put a lot of money on this following in its footsteps. Too many swoops, gashes, creases and screens trying to say something that a taut body shape alone would have said a lot better.

    • 0 avatar

      Now if they could only build something more like this…

  • avatar

    Even if the hybrid powertrain doesn’t detract from the numbers on a piece of paper, it definitely sells its soul. They make a V8 version of this car…for $64K instead of $96K. Explain again how hybrids aren’t a total waste of money…

  • avatar

    Holy cow this car is HOW MUCH? I kind of wasn’t paying attention to this car, but thought was in the 60-70 area… I had serious sticker shock at the top of the article. Isn’t this supercar territory?

  • avatar

    I swear that the Gentex corporation has got to be laughing all the way to the bank! Their electrochromic mirrors are in damn near everything!

    Pity that their designers are seemingly obsessed with demented, bucktoothed clowns! Because that’s all I see when I catch a glimpse of one of those abominations! (Especially bucktoothed if the HomeLink buttons are included!) (:: Rinses vomit from mouth! ::)

    I sat in one of these at the auto show, and agree about the stalks up on top of the dash like Frankenstein’s monster! I don’t recall their function, but I remember thinking that they could have put them someplace else on the IP!

    Interesting that unlike the original SC, which was decidedly different than the LS sedan, this car is essentially a coupe version of the LS, down to the IP and dashboard.

    I wonder if ToyoLexus will finally reach “peak fish face” within the next few model cycles? Even if I could forego stuff like memory seats and the mish-mash of a center-stack in the Camry in order to grab one more N/A car with a V6, that obnoxious grille would make me want to drive with a bag over my head!

  • avatar

    Beauty may be only skin deep, but ugly runs clean to the bone. And inside this thing too. Hideous barely begins to describe it. It’s the detailing that ruins it, the overall shape and proportions are great. But too many random slashes all over, plus Predator face, plus why does a RWD car need such a ridiculous front overhand?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “There’s no denying that the Lexus LC is a sexy-looking car.”

    I’ll deny it.

    • 0 avatar

      I have no problem denying it also. While not AS bad in person they still look like a redneck designed Aston Martin.

      Hey Bubba, hold my beer while I design me one of those James Bond English cars.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        This strikes me as perhaps excessively Asian in design.

        This is redneck:

  • avatar

    The V8 LC500 is the best looking and best sounding car money can buy right now. Being far and away the best built is merely the cherry on top. It’s a shame about the product placement in a movie about a comic book, or I’d be sorely tempted to make this my forth keeper car.

    • 0 avatar

      Said comic book movie is currently the 14th highest-grossing film of all time. I’m sure Lexus will pick up at least some sales or new brand fanboys for their marketing dollars.

  • avatar

    For $118k it needs nearly twice that 354 hp. Or at least 600.
    I can get 450hp at the Dodge dealership for mid 30s. Yes, the sticker is mid 40s, but no Dodge goes out the door at sticker around here.

  • avatar

    Not the same mission I know… but I still prefer the classy SC430 to the LC. The clean design has aged very well, something I don’t think the LC will achieve.

  • avatar

    From the gaping maw of a grille to the Corvette rip-off taillights at the rear, this thing is hideous. What a shame.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    100 grand for a V6 hybrid doesn’t resonate with me, but seems about right for the V8 considering what BMW wants for the 650i and Mercedes for the S560.

  • avatar

    Meh. I saw one on display in the concourse of Nationwide Arena the other week and thought “Oh man, what a great looking car”. Then I saw the window sticker and thought “There’s at least two dozen other cars I’d buy at that price point before I’d even consider this thing.”

    WTF has happened to Lexus?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’m curious what you think this car competes with.

      • 0 avatar

        How about “every other $120,000 sports coupe/sports car and many more that cost significantly less”?

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That was a bit of a flippant response for an honest question.

          Are you comparing it to loaded Mustangs? C-Class AMG coupe? RS5? LS1-swapped Miata?

          This Lexus is not a sports car, it’s a premium grand tourer and there aren’t “at least two dozen other cars” that compete with it. It’s 25% less than the Mercedes S coupe and looks far more interesting than the similarly priced BMW 650 and…what else is there in this class?

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