by Michael Butler
When it comes to grand touring, the first brand that comes to mind won't necessarily be Lexus, but that doesn't mean that it can't build a capable GT car. The LC Coupe is one of the best looking grand tourers this side of Italy, and packs a powerful punch, even in hybrid form. The 2021 Lexus LC 500h is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 and electric motor for a total output of 354 horsepower; that's good enough for a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds. For 2021 the LC 500h sees revisions being made to is suspension setup, and more tech is piled on top of an already impressive heap, making it nimbler on its feet and as agile as it is beautiful. The 2021 Lexus LC 500h goes up against the likes of the BMW i8, but with the latter to be discontinued shortly, perhaps the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe might be the only real rival left.
The Lexus LC Hybrid gets a bunch of updates ranging from weight reduction and handling improvements, all the way to interior colors and infotainment system updates. The LC Hybrid's unsprung weight sees a 22-pound reduction thanks to new suspension parts such as aluminum lower arms and hollow anti-roll bars. The electronic front shocks have an increased stroke, and anti-roll bar rigidity has also gone up. Active cornering assist now features on all LC models, as well as active rear steering. The interior now includes new Flare Red leather and Manhattan Orange Alcantara options, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard features.
3.5-liter V6 Hybrid
There are no two ways about it: the Lexus LC Hybrid is one of the best looking cars around, taking over from the LFA as the Japanese luxury brands best looker, arguably ever. With a swooping body design reminiscent of the mighty Lexus LFA, the LC Hybrid is sure to turn heads wherever it goes. Standard exterior features include a set of 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, triple-beam LED headlights, and flush door handles, while blue-tinted badging differentiates it from its gas-only sibling.
The 2021 Lexus LC Hybrid is classified as a grand tourer and measures in with a total length of 187.4 inches. It sits 75.6 inches wide and is 53 inches tall. The LC Hybrid rolls on a 113-inch wheelbase. The 2021 car is 22 pounds lighter than last year's iteration but still weighs in at 4,420 pounds, just 80 more than the non-hybrid variant.
Unfortunately, the hybrid LC misses out on the 5.0-liter V8 found in the gas-only car and instead gets a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 developing 295 hp and 256.7 lb-ft of torque and a high-output, permanent-magnet, electric-drive motor with EV mode. This system produces a total power output of 354 hp. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission paired with four-speed automatic transmission. The zero to sixty sprint takes 4.7 seconds, and the LC Hybrid will continue on to a top speed of 155 mph.
The Lexus LC was never a bad handling car, but the 2021 model fares even better thanks to an impressive list of suspension and tech updates. Get behind the wheel of the LC 500h, and you'll be greeted with a true grand tourer experience; the LC Hybrid floats more than it drives. It's a drama-free exercise, but Lexus does allow the driver to turn things up a bit for a more dynamic experience. Updates for 2021 include aluminum lower arms and stiffer hollow anti-roll bars, as well as recalibrated electronic front shocks. Active cornering assist and active rear steering are now standard and make the LC 500h an even greater pleasure to pilot up and down your local highway. It's still heavy, though, especially in hybrid form, but the updates make it feel lighter and lither than ever before, and it hides its mass well.
It might still be a heavy car, but dropping the 5.0-liter V8 in exchange for the 3.5-liter V6 unit and electric motor has done wonders for the Lexus LC 500h's gas mileage. The EPA rates that this car will manage 26/34/29 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycle, which is seriously impressive considering that it can still sprint to sixty in under five seconds. 2.2 gallons of gas can be accommodated in the LC 500h's gas tank, enabling a driving range of approximately 643 miles - ideal for cross-country jaunts.
The Lexus LC 500h is a two-door four-seater, although it's more accurately described as a 2+2, which means the front passengers can get in and out with minimal issues, but getting people in the back poses a bit more of a problem. The front bucket seats are as comfortable as they come and suit the GT driving style perfectly. The headroom in the front is 37.2 inches, and the legroom is 42 inches. Headroom in the back is much tighter at 32.2 inches, and legroom is a paltry 32.5 inches. Four adults will fit in the LC 500h, but those in the rear won't want to stay there for trips longer than a few miles - rather save the rear seats for children and only in an emergency.
Grand tourers are meant to be driven over long distances while providing heightened levels of comfort and performance. Another crucial element is trunk space; after all, you need somewhere to put your travel baggage. The unfortunate news is that you'll have to choose between cargo space and occupancy; with only 4.7 cubic feet of trunk space, there's not much room for anything other than a few carry-on bags. The rear seats can be used as extra storage at the expense of passenger space, however. Inside, there are slim door pockets, a small central storage area, as well as cargo nets mounted at foot level.
The Lexus LC 500h is not a cheap car, but Lexus makes up for the high asking price by offering a substantial amount of standard features. Once inside the cabin, the LC 500h offers dual-zone climate control, ten-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, magnesium paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, as well as a performance-inspired instrument cluster with a built-in G-meter and keyless entry with push-button start. Lexus is known for packing their cars full of tech, and the LC 500h is at the receiving end of some good driver assistance systems such as a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with lane keep assist and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control under the Lexus Safety System+ banner.
While it has previously been a weak point for the brand as a whole, for 2021 you're unlikely to be found wanting when it comes to infotainment features, even if the user interface still isn't the greatest. The 10.3-inch display offers integrated navigation, and Lexus Enform Destination Assist with a free three-year subscription. You also get dynamic voice command, Android Auto - finally - and Apple CarPlay integration, as well as Amazon Alexa compatibility. An onboard Wi-Fi hotspot is included in the deal, as is Bluetooth streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a standard 12-speaker sound system. A 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system is also on offer for the audiophiles out there.
Certain 2018-2019 LC hybrids were been recalled due to a faulty fuel pump as part of a border Toyota issue, but for the 2020 model year and thus far as a 2021, the LC Hybrid remains recall-free. Lexus covers the LC 500h with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a six-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, as well as a six-year/70,000-mile drivetrain warranty. The hybrid/electric components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, and there's a six-month or 5,000-mile maintenance plan, and four years of roadside assistance.
The 2021 Lexus LC 500h has not been tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, so no reliable crash safety information is available. This isn't uncommon for expensive luxury vehicles, however, and Lexus' standard swathe of safety systems guarantees protection in the event of a mishap. The LC 500h comes equipped with eight airbags, and driver assistance features such as pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, and lane departure and lane keep assist. An available head-up display and parking assistant can also be equipped to sweeten the deal.
The Lexus LC 500h occupies a very specialized corner of the car market: it's not the most practical, or best handling thing on the road, neither is it the fastest, but it is one of the most striking cars to look at, and possibly one of the most beautiful cars ever to come out of Japan. That by itself makes the LC 500h a pretty good car. What this Lexus does well is to pamper its occupants in serene luxury and style. Its powertrain is more than capable but doesn't pretend to be a high-performance setup, and the way in which this car wafts along at speed is noteworthy, while sipping fuel at an incremental rate. It does lack in the cargo department, and the rear seats are tight, and we have to mention its porky curb weight, but if you can look past these faults, the LC 500h will please to no end, and you'll never be accused of going with the mainstream.
This kind of beauty doesn't come cheap, and neither does all the tech. The 2021 Lexus 500h will set you back a hefty $97,510, which unfortunately does not include extra costs such as tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,025. The BMW i8, for instance, will cost you over $50,000 more at $147,500.
You only get one option here, but thankfully Lexus offers the LC 500h with a healthy number of optional packages. Hand us the checkbook, and we'd get ours with the optional Touring Package, which adds luxury features such as an Alcantara headliner, Mark Levinson 13-speaker sound system, as well as intuitive parking assist, a heated steering wheel, and semi-aniline leather front seats. If you want more dynamic ability, then you should look at the Sport Package, which adds performance brake pads and a carbon fiber roof, as well as sport brake pads and eight-way power front sports seats. We'd couple this with the available Torsen limited-slip rear differential. However, if it's all-out athleticism you're after, the Dynamic Handling package includes the full consignment from the Sport Package, as well as rear-axle steering, variable-ratio steering, a speed-activated rear wing, and 21-inch forged alloy wheels.
The legendary Toyota Supra has received a fifth lease on life, mostly thanks to the BMW Z4, but don't let this minor fact distract you from what is important here: the Supra is one hell of a car. Power is provided by a BMW-sourced 3.0-liter turbo inline-six engine producing 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. The Toyota Supra is a sports car, whereas the LC 500h is a GT, that's the most glaring difference here, and the Lexus is vastly more expensive, but also has an extra pair of seats. The Toyota Supra handles as well as a Porsche Cayman at a fraction of the cost, and the ride and handling balance is one of the better ones on offer. Unfortunately, it can't shake the BMW association, and the interior can get cramped for taller drivers. These are two different cars with two different goals in mind. We would take the Supra just because of how fun it is to drive, but if relaxed speed and ultimate style are more your thing, the LC is a shoo-in.
Hybrid cars went through a phase where they were considered safe and relatively boring. Cars like the Toyota Prius didn't help this image at all. Thankfully the hybrid moniker can now be associated with potent sports cars such as the BMW i8, a car from the future it seems. The i8 is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo and an electric motor, which doesn't sound like much, but together produce 369 hp, and will get this BMW to sixty in only 4.2 seconds. It might look ultra-futuristic, but it's impractical, too, and the LC 500h is vastly more comfortable. The Lexus is cheaper, too, and while the i8 may turn heads now, the LC is the buying decision you won't soon regret.
Check out some informative Lexus LC Hybrid video reviews below.