2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible review: Stunning looks above all
The LC 500's good looks make up for this car's few shortcomings.
Every manufacturer has a halo car, and for Lexus , it's the LC 500. Toyota's premium brand might be best known for making luxurious sedans and staid crossovers, but the LC is something totally different. It's fast and gorgeous, and in addition to the coupe, the LC 500 is now available as a convertible.
Regardless of body style, the LC is a looker. My tester is covered in a luscious shade of red paint, which is probably the most gorgeous rouge this side of Mazda's Soul Red. Lexus' spindle grille doesn't look bad in this application, and I love how the distinct headlight shape is echoed in the taillights. Front to back, the LC is stunning.
There's performance to back up that style, too -- mostly. The LC uses a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine with 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and Lexus says this convertible can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. But when I hit the throttle, all I feel is hesitation. I want the LC 500 to leap off the line, but you've got to give it a second for the engine to rev into the heart of its powerband.
Once you're up and moving, however, the LC is a total blast. The 10-speed automatic transmission is happy to let the engine hang out high in its rev range, only upshifting when it almost touches the redline. The brakes have linear stopping feel and power, giving me the confidence to brake late before diving into corners. The transmission downshifts preemptively, making sure I'm in the perfect gear for maximum attack on a corner exit.
Despite its 4,540-pound curb weight, the LC is plenty nimble, eager to be tossed into corners with plenty of grip available from the Michelin Pilot Sport ZP tires (wrapped around 21-inch forged alloy wheels). Even though these are run-flats, the Michelins don't have that hard-as-a-rock feeling common with this tire type. My tester also has the optional Torsen limited-slip differential, which helps this rear-wheel-drive behemoth rotate around turns. The LC is incredibly well balanced with nary a hint of oversteer.
The EPA rates the 2021 LC 500 Convertible at 15 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Despite my heavy right foot, I managed to see 20.2 mpg during a week of testing.
With the four-layer convertible top up, road and wind noise are kept to a minimum. But when I want to let the sunshine in, the roof folds back in 15 seconds and can be operated while driving at speeds up to 31 mph. Oh, and FYI, the top control button is hidden under the palm rest for the infotainment controls. I went absolutely crazy trying to find this; there's no way to know it's there.
As with most convertibles, the top mechanism cuts into storage space, leaving the Lexus LC with just 3.4 cubic feet of space in the trunk, which is hardly enough for two soft-sided travel bags. You'll likely put those in the back seat, which is fine, since most adults should never attempt to sit back there.
With the top down on a sunny day, I'm reminded that the cooled seat settings are buried in the infotainment controls, which is annoying as hell. I also wish the seats' neck air outlets fed cold air as well as heat.
Speaking of infotainment, this might be the LC's most obvious Achilles' heel. The Enform multimedia tech is housed on a 10.3-inch screen, controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Lexus says the pad should work like a smartphone, with tap, swipe and pinch-to-zoom controls. Problem is, it's extremely difficult to use, especially while in motion. It's easy to swipe past icons, the graphics are dated and the whole thing should just be scrapped. The LC doesn't yet have Lexus' new touchscreen, but at least Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa are standard. Other standard technologies include blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, precollision braking and full-speed adaptive cruise control.
The 2021 LC 500 Convertible starts at $102,175 including $1,075 for destination. My tester takes things a bit further with a number of options, including upgraded wheels, a head-up display and a few accessories, for $113,320 as tested.
Problem is, I'm not sure what the LC 500 is trying to be. It's not a sports car like the Porsche 911 but it's not accommodating enough to be a grand tourer like a BMW 8 Series . The LC 500 is sort of in this weird 'tweener space. But damn if those good looks don't make it compelling regardless.