Review: 2018 Lexus LC500
  • Car Review

Review: 2018 Lexus LC500

By David Undercoffler | March 2, 2018

Autolist rating: 5/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $92,995–$107,365, including destination

Key takeaways

  • The LC is an all-new model from Lexus for 2018.
  • It’s a rear-wheel-drive sports car with two useable front seats and two useless rear seats.
  • The base model -- if you can call it that -- comes with a 471-horsepower V8; a 354-horsepower hybrid V6 is optional.
  • It has a stellar mix of abilities: it’s smooth during daily driving but always eager for more aggressive fun.

What is it?

TLDR: The sexiest -- and the most fun -- car Lexus has made in years

The LC line is completely new for 2018. The large rear-wheel-drive, luxury coupe/sports car is aimed at the likes of Porsche’s 911, Jaguar’s F-Type and Mercedes-Benz’ AMG GT and SL models.

While the LC is a large car, it offers scant cargo space. The rear seats are useless for passengers with legs but helpful for storing the luggage that won’t fit in the shallow trunk. Instead, the car was designed for style, of which it has plenty. During our testing in Los Angeles, it drew plenty of long stares and double takes, a tough feat in a car-saturated town such as this.

There are two models to choose from currently in the LC line -- though additional variants like a convertible and a high-performance model are likely. The base version is the LC 500 that we tested. It comes with a 5.0-liter, 471-horsepower V8 engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The slightly higher-end LC 500h is a hybrid, using a 3.5-liter V6 and an electric motor for 354 horsepower.

What’s good

TLDR: This car packs everything you want into one sports car: style, handling and sound.

  • The looks. With a wide, low stance and concept-car design elements -- especially in the headlights and taillights -- this is a dramatically stylish car.
  • It’s fun. The V8 version we tested was a low-key cruiser most of the time in daily driving. But when the driver is looking for tire-chirping fun, this car delivers a surprising level of excitement and agility.
  • Its voice. Not only does it perform well, but it sounds good doing it. While most of its competitors rely on turbocharged six-cylinder engines with less aural punch, the LC 500 has a throaty V8 with that old-school burble these engines are known for.

What’s bad

TLDR: Good looks come at the expense of practicality.

  • The small trunk. It’s surprisingly shallow given the size of this coupe. Pack light.
  • The rear seats. Think of them not as a place to put people but a storage area for the many things that won’t fit in the small trunk.
  • The infotainment system. Lexus still insists on using a touchpad to control its infotainment system. Great idea, horrible execution. The pad is difficult to use even when you’re not driving. Many other brands have figured this out, but, sadly, not Lexus.

5 stars of execution

Safety? Yes

  • The LC hasn’t been rated yet by the NHTSA or IIHS.
  • But its suite of standard safety gear is what you would expect on a $100,000 car.
  • Highlights include pre-collision braking, a hood that pops up via airbag for pedestrian protection, adaptive cruise control, 10 airbags and blind-spot monitoring.

Value? Yes

  • The LC 500 starts at $92,995, including destination.
  • That’s a lot of money -- three times the average new car price today -- but compared to its peers, the LC is a good value.
  • The base LC leaves no stone unturned as far as amenities, comfort and convenience go.
  • Plus, that head-turning style comes at no extra charge.

Efficiency? Yes

  • The V8-powered LC 500 is less efficient than most of its peers largely because it has smaller turbocharged engines. This model is rated at 16/26/19 MPG city/highway/combined.
  • But kudos to Lexus for offering a hybrid LC -- the 500h. Aimed at the European and Chinese markets, this model delivers a healthy EPA rating of 26/35/30 MPG city/highway/combined.

Driving experience? Yes

  • This is the kind of split-personality sports car that you want.
  • In daily driving around town, the LC 500 is quiet, comfortable and subdued.
  • But beneath that calm demeanor is a true performer; agile, communicative and powerful, the LC 500 is a surprisingly able sports car.

Execution? Yes

  • The LC’s visuals -- inside and out -- are striking.
  • Details like the aforementioned headlight and taillight design deserve a close-up and lead the industry in terms of pushing the design envelope.
  • The car’s build quality and materials are superb.

Total Rating: 5 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The starter LC 500 is $92,995. As we mentioned, you could walk out the door with this trim level and want for nothing.

Our test car added to that a $390 limited-slip differential for added performance, which we recommend. We’d also add the $1,400 Sport Package with glass roof to bring more light into the cabin. That option also mandates the $1,000 Convenience Package and the $1,210, 20-inch alloy wheels.

Our car also came with the $5,960 Performance Package, which we’d skip since they’re pricey goodies you can live without.

The LC 500h starts at $97,505.

Also consider

Among its capable competitors, you can skip the Jaguar F-Type, but certainly look at the Porsche 911 S and the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe.

Their personalities are very different than the Lexus -- the Porsche is crisp and communicative, while the Mercedes is a heat-seeking muscle car. The Lexus earns its place, offering a little bit of each.