The Lexus LC Hybrid Sounds A Lot Weirder Than Its Gasoline Counterpart


We still don't understand why this car has a CVT.

When Lexus first revealed the LC500, we knew that it may have stumbled upon the perfect recipe for a grand touring car. The LC500 is powered by the same 467-hp 5.0-liter V8 that's found in the GS F and RC F, but is tuned to deliver a different growl more befitting of a luxury cruiser. There isn't much that we'd change about the LC500, but Lexus made the strange decision of offering the car as a hybrid. Many people didn't even know that Lexus offers the LC500h, and we'd be hard pressed to understand what Lexus was thinking with this variant.

For starters, the LC500h uses a 3.5-liter V6 instead of the lovely V8. This engine is mated to a hybrid system for a combined output of 354 hp. Not only is this much less than the gas- powered LC500, but power is routed to the rear wheels through an odd combination of a CVT and second, four-speed automatic transmission.

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As we have learned from cars with CVT transmissions, it is hard to mimic actual gear changes without sounding fake. Even the nearly $100,000 LC500h struggles to run through its simulated gear ratios without sounding terrible. Just compare the LC500h's acceleration to the wonderful sound of the standard LC500 and its traditional 10-speed automatic.

Lexus knew that it couldn't get away with just offering a CVT on such an expensive car. CVT transmissions are good at being smooth, but fall short when asked to aid in a bit of sporty driving. We don't know why Lexus continues to only offer hybrid models with CVT transmissions instead of finding a way to use an automatic or dual-clutch as Porsche and even Kia have done. The LC500h just sounds strange during acceleration, and eventually starts to sound normal when it uses the secondary four-speed transmission at higher speeds. Overall, we can't see why Lexus went to all the trouble here when a normal automatic could have made the LC500h much better.

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