2020 Lexus LC 500
2020 Lexus LC 500
There’s a lengthy discussion, possibly an argument, about the role legacy plays in the desirability and sales of exotic cars. In part because of racing, Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren have an abundance of heritage. Lamborghini has it thanks to longevity. Sadly, the legacies of Maserati and Alfa Romeo seem to be fading. But what about Lexus?
We present the Lexus LC 500, priced around $100,000, right up there with the Porsche 911 Carrera. It has a significant predecessor, the Lexus LFA. Only 500 of this model were built between 2010 and 2012. This rear-drive supercar scored high marks in almost all road tests thanks to its 553-horsepower V-10 engine that could carry it from zero to 60 in under four seconds. It had a dramatic stance in its long-hood-short-deck bodywork that was compelling. During the years it was produced, the LFA was priced at $375,000. If you are looking to purchase an LFA now, it could cost $900,000 or more.
While both the LFA and the LC 500 have a similar profile, there is a line to draw between the two: styling. The LFA was designed with a more aggressive profile, while the new LC 500 has a softer and more stylish look. The Lexus grille up front contains a long-and-low draw that extends along the sides of the front bumper and is topped by a greenhouse that smoothly flows into the rear deck. A car of this caliber would not be complete without 20- or 21-inch wheels adding optical strength. The bright taillight treatment in the back completes the visual details. Another feature that sets the LC 500 apart from its competitors is being front-engined — the basic proportions are so different from a 911 or the new Corvette C8.
Car enthusiasts rightfully praise the luxury interior of the LC 500. The attractive layout contains leather, side-bolstered seats. Unlike some exotic cars, this model doesn’t group controls within fingertip range, but sets the necessary gauges straight ahead. The climate control buttons are at the dash level and on the center console below a generous, nicely hooded 10.3-inch multimedia display. Additional controls are located on the center console, including the trackpad and its on-screen cursor. There is integration for smartwatches and Amazon Alexa. Should the driver become enthusiastic, the passenger side has both left and right grab handles. In the back, you’ll find a rear seat, but like that of the 911, it would be for limited human use.
The Collier AutoMedia Car Dispatch
Inspiring stories and market insight on exceptional automobiles - delivered to your inbox weekly.
Nesting under the hood of the LC 500 is a 5.0-liter non-turbo V-8 engine with 471 horsepower, 398 lb-ft of torque and a sweet sound with the throttle down. Backed by a 10-speed automatic, the LC 500 makes 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, despite its 4,280-lb curb weight. The speed tops out at 168 mph. There is also an eco-friendly alternative, and being Toyota, that means a hybrid — the LC 500h. This hybrid model matches a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a pair of electric motor/generators mated to a continuously variable transmission and a 4-speed automatic. The battery is a compact lithium-ion located between the rear seats and the luggage area. The 354 total horsepower and the fact that it can reach 60 mph in 4.7 seconds set this hybrid apart in the industry. While fuel efficiency isn’t a significant factor in $100,000 automobiles, the LC 500 gets a combined 19 mpg while the LC 500h earns a combined 30 mpg.
Despite its luxury status, the LC 500 isn’t just a country club member. Multi-link suspensions are present in both the front and rear, accompanied by ventilated disc brakes all around. It also includes active rear steering. The Custom Drive Mode switch allows for multiple settings: normal/custom, comfort, eco and sport/sport+. These modes alter throttle control, steering and suspension to suit the Lexus for a trip to the store or to do a few laps around the track. Having experienced both models, we suspect its limits are likely above what most owners would expect. The car tucks in nicely around tight corners and won’t bite you on the exit.
The base price of the LC 500 is $92,950, and the LC 500h rings in at $97,460. Both models add $1,025 for handling and delivery. By comparison, a 911 Carrera is $98,750 with delivery charges. There is, of course, a tempting options list for the Lexus consisting of a Levinson sound system, 21-inch wheels and a Torsen Limited-Slip diff.
As for legacy, Lexus’ RC F GT3 is now ranked 4th in IMSA GTD racing, just one point behind Porsche and ahead of BMW and Ferrari, adding to the automaker’s heritage on the track.
Will the LC 500 and LC 500h contribute to the Lexus legacy? They are well worth consideration.
John Lamm worked for Road & Track for 37 years and is equally happy behind a keyboard or a camera. He has written ten automotive books and has been honored with the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy award and the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor award for writing. He is on the organizing committee for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for two decades.