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2020 Lexus LC 500h Coupe Review by David Colman


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2020 Lexus LC 500h

It's like piloting a jet aircraft

By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL


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2020 Lexus LC 500h
If you're an introvert who just wants to blend in with the crowd, do not buy this car. The LC500, in either V8 or Hybrid form, is the most startling projectile Lexus has unleashed on public roads since their $375,000 LF-A ceased production (500 units) back in 2012. And if you choose to have your coupe painted Flare Yellow ($595 extra) like our test car, the combination of this body painted that color will stun onlookers into believing they have witnessed the advent of the future.

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2020 Lexus LC 500h
The LC (Lexus Coupe) 500 is offered as a 2020 model with either a 471hp V8 or a 354hp V6 augmented by an electric motor and traction battery. The subject of this review is the V6 Hybrid model which carries a base price of $97,460. That's $4,500 more than the LC500 with V8 power. So why would you want to spend that much more for a less powerful version of the same coupe? Primarily because the Hybrid gets much better overall fuel mileage (30MPG) than the V8 (22MPG). In a solid week of driving the V6 Hybrid, we never lacked for power, nor did we deplete a full (22.2 gallon) tank of fuel.

Due to the location of the Hybrid battery behind the rear seat, the already small trunk of the V8 coupe (5.7 cubic feet) loses a foot in the Hybrid, which offers just 4.6 cubic feet of storage. Of course, there is a rear seat area in both models that will accommodate small items or small people. Gaining access to that area is problematic, since the front seats, with their tall headrests, impede easy access to the back seat. On a short hop with 3 people aboard, the report from the back seat occupant (a full size adult) was not encouraging. Her head brushed the underside of the back window, and legroom was nil.


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2020 Lexus LC 500h

But nobody buys an LC500 for its carrying capacity or its rear seat comfort. Upfront, where you will spend all of your time as an owner, the driving experience verges on blissful. Our test LC's base price climbed $1,440 with a set of 21" forged wheels, and $1,400 with a "Sport Package with Glass Roof" that included 8-way power sports seats upholstered in Alcantara. You might opt for the flashy alloys on the basis of their looks alone. But these shimmering wheels bring with them a terrific set of run flat Bridgestone Potenza tires (245/40RF21 F., 275/35RF21 R.) with a treadwear rating of TW 280 that helps them adhere to the road like super glue. Adaptive Variable Suspension is standard on the LC series. A knurled adjustment knob projects conspicuously from the right side of the instrument binnacle to let you swap suspension settings from Normal to Sport to Sport+. In Normal mode, the LC manages road imperfections with surprising equanimity. But once you switch to Sport+, gird yourself for a really firm ride. In this setting potholes become so bone jarring that you're glad to know the Bridgestone tires are designed to run when flat.

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2020 Lexus LC 500h
The Hybrid drive emits an ethereal wail when you flatten the gas pedal. The 0-60mph spurt takes less than 5 seconds, so there is little else on the road that can challenge this LC in the stoplight GP. For 2020, Lexus has recalibrated some of the 10 gear ratios that transfer Hybrid power to the rear wheels. The transmission is now a model of civility, with crisp upshifts that reveal just a 500rpm split between 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th. An oversized pair of magnesium paddle shifters mount directly to the steering wheel, and facilitate manual gear selection, even when you are engaged in Drive (D). Should you desire complete manual override, you can slot the gearbox into the "M" gate by pulling back and right on the stubby console mounted lever. This allows you to select a ratio which the gearbox will retain until the V6 reaches redline. The detents separating Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Manual on the shift lever are close together and poorly defined. Consequently, I found myself selecting Neutral when seeking Manual mode. This sudden loss of drive is most disconcerting.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2020 Lexus LC 500h
The front seats are heated, but you wouldn't know it from scanning the dash for an actuation switch. Instead of making this simple task easy, Lexus has buried the seat heater controls several menus into the fussy remote touch control screen. This screen requires you to divert your attention from driving to perform a fussy finger ballet on the center console's mouse/controller. You must navigate from menu to climate to seat heater to heat level. All this when a simple switch would have been so much better. Although a steering wheel heater is optionally available, our $104,540 test car lacked this device which is now standard on many cars costing less than $30,000. We also noticed that the shallow sun visors are incapable of shielding you from low level winter sun, so you'll need to leave a brimmed hat in your LC 500.

These inconveniences will never detract from the stunning overall satisfaction of owning, driving and appreciating the sculptural beauty of this coupe. Lexus has done a remarkable job of encapsulating the sensation of piloting a jet aircraft while remaining earth bound.

2020 LEXUS LC 500h Coupe

    ENGINE: 3.5 liter V6 with Multistage Hybrid System
    HORSEPOWER: 354hp
    TORQUE: N/A
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 27MPG City/35MPG Highway
    PRICE AS TESTED: $104,540

HYPES: Space Ship for the Street

GRIPES: Annoying GUI

STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10