Why The Lexus LC 500 Is A Modern-Day Classic

Opinion / 4 Comments

There are better cars out there but we wouldn't buy any of them over the LC.

We'll be honest; there isn't anything new with the 2022 Lexus LC Convertible compared to last year's model, but we just wanted to drive it again. Can you blame us? The last time we drove this car, it was smack dab in the middle of a pandemic and we only had it for a few days. In that brief time, the car made an enormous impression on us. But was it just a passionate fling during a tough time, or an all-time great that we'll look back on with starry eyes? Is this the LFA 2.0?

During our full week with the LC 500 Convertible, we had more time to think about this car's position in the market, its stellar attributes, and its drawbacks. We discovered some major issues we hadn't spotted before, but somehow the LC's charm, especially as a convertible, made them insignificant. This is a get-it-while-you-can type of car, and here's why.

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Concept Styling

The Lexus LC is a statement car. The massive grille, flush door handles and Coke bottle hips all work to turn heads and drop jaws. Lexus offers the LC in a variety of fun and outrageous colors, including Flare Yellow, Infared, Cadmium Orange, and Nori Green Pearl.

Our tester came in a more conservative hue of Atomic Silver. The restrained silver paint helps the LC display its dynamic lines in a tasteful way. The LC isn't posting thirst traps on Instagram, its natural beauty does the talking. We're glad Lexus reverted back to an old-school soft-top roof because a folding metal hardtop wouldn't do this design justice. The fabric roof brings a classic element to an otherwise ultra-modern aesthetic.

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A One-Percenter's Interior

The LC's gorgeous aesthetic is complemented by one of the most welcoming interiors available in a car today. While available in black and red, the Toasted Caramel leather has always been our favorite. It's the best color to show off the LC's intricate stitch work, the unique dashboard shape, and those incredible flowing lines on the door handles that lead up to the floating metal handles. Even the passenger grab handle is a leather-wrapped work of art. It's an Art Deco meets Postmodern type of cabin, and from a visual standpoint, we can't think of many cars that do it better.

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The Ultimate Cruiser

If you're the type of buyer that skips to the end of a car review to check the 0-60 mph times and see how it compares with other vehicles in that price class, the LC Convertible is not for you. Sprinting from zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds is nothing to scoff at, but a BMW 8 Series or Mercedes-AMG SL will absolutely demolish the LC in a straight line with their turbocharged V8 engines and all-wheel-drive. Lexus built the LC for comfortable, high-speed cruising. It's the type of car you take on vacation instead of flying because no airplane could possibly be this relaxing.

At highway speeds, the LC happily cruises with the engine turning with a barely audible hum. Crank up the 13-speaker Mark Levison audio system (which still has a CD player for better audio quality) and the outside world fades away into obscurity. If you so choose, the convertible top drops down in just 15 seconds, giving you closer access to this car's party piece... the engine.

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A V8 From The Heavens

The Lexus 5.0-liter V8 engine will go down as one of the all-time greats. 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque aren't world-beating numbers, but the way this engine deploys is so unlike its rivals. Peak horsepower isn't reached until 7,100 rpm, meaning you have to bring the LC to its redline to unlock its maximum performance. In the real world, the torque-rich turbocharged Germans will leave the Lexus in the dust, but they will completely miss out on the LC's V8 symphony.

If there's a better-sounding V8, we haven't heard it. The LC's engine emits a howl that reverberates through your spine to the pleasure sensors in your brain. Our questionable understanding of biology aside, this car demonstrates that speed and 0-60 times aren't everything. When you attend a concert, you don't need to capture every moment on video for posterity. Sometimes it's better to sit back and enjoy the music.

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Practicality? Who Needs It?

In an attempt to provide both a back seat and a usable trunk, in the end, Lexus provided neither. The LC's rear seats are so laughable, you'd be better off forgetting they even exist. Even kids will struggle to fit behind the driver comfortably. Then there's the trunk, providing a measly 3.4 cubic feet of space. For comparison, the LC Coupe boasts 5.4 cubic feet and the 8 Series Convertible offers a whopping 12.4 cubic feet. With the LC Convertible, you need to travel light.

Egress and ingress aren't the easiest. The LC sits low, with large, heavy doors that love to be caught by the wind. Beware of door dings! It's comfortable once you lower yourself into the cabin, but less athletic buyers may find it difficult to hop in and out.

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2021-2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Cargo Room
2021-2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Trunk Space

Desperate For A Tech Upgrade

While other Lexus models have been updated with a touchscreen or even an entirely new user interface, the LC soldiers on with the heavily criticized Remote Touch Controller. Instead of an easy-to-master touchscreen, the LC's infotainment system uses a laptop-style trackpad that's finicky to operate on the move. Trivial tasks like turning on the heated seat can become minor missions.

Thankfully, the LC now gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, though they aren't wireless like you'd expect from a vehicle with a six-figure price tag. Both phone mirroring systems are absurdly frustrating to operate with the Remote Touchpad, but at least offer voice control, which is far easier to use. Alas, since the LC sells in such limited volumes, we doubt it will ever get an infotainment upgrade.

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Get It While You Can

The Lexus LC 500 Convertible is far from perfect. It's impractical, the technology lags behind a Toyota pickup truck, and the performance doesn't stand up to its rivals, but the LC is so much more than the sum of its parts. Cars like this are a dying breed. It won't be much longer before there are no naturally aspirated V8 grand tourers available. When they are gone, we will look back on the LC 500 and wonder why it didn't command more respect when it was new.

This is not an "of-the-moment car," it's a reminder of what gasoline-powered luxury performance used to be in the body of a modern, reliable drop-top. And because it's built by Lexus, it's an art piece that will stand the test of time without deteriorating. We think the LC 500 is a "get-it-while-you-can" experience that won't be around much longer. If you have a hundred grand burning a hole in your pocket, don't hesitate.

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