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.
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.
See trim levels and configurations:
3.5L V6 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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.
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.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Lexus LC Hybrid: