2023 Lexus LC 500 Coupe – Review by David Colman
Redefining the Lexus luxury brand
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Few are the cars that will spike your heart rate while driving them. Fewer still are those that will cause palpitations while just looking at them. Fewest of all are those that do both while costing under $100,000. With a base price of $93,450, the 2023 Lexus LC 500 we drove checks all three boxes. If you pay an extra $595 to have it finished in outrageous Cadmium Orange, you will insure yourself a lifetime of bewildered stares and a front-row spot at Cars and Coffee.
Lexus offers the LC in two body styles and two states of tune. In addition to the coupe, the LC 500 is also available as a convertible. Carrying a price of $103,650, the drop top will cost $8,050 more than an equivalent coupe. A pair of power trains are also available in either body style. You can choose the V8 powered model we tested, which is simply designated LC 500 and utilizes a 5.0 liter V8 producing 471hp and 398lb.-ft. of torque. That engine, driving through a 10 speed "Sport Direct Shift" automatic, will take you from a standing start to 60mph in 4.6 seconds, and flash past the quarter mile in 13 seconds @ 112mph. According to Lexus, the V8 posts a top speed of 168mph.
Lexus also produces a hybrid version of the LC dubbed the LC 500h which employs a 3.5 liter V6 plus 2 electric motors to produce 354hp. The hybrid carries a $6,050 higher price than the V8, and produces 117 less horsepower than the LC 500 we drove. As far as I'm concerned, picking the lighter, quicker V8 over the hybrid is a no-brainer, in spite of the hybrid's slightly better fuel consumption rating. Also, if you put a premium on handling, you'll want to select the much stiffer coupe chassis over the convertible version.
There's another ulterior motive for picking the coupe. You can special order it with a subtly stunning carbon fiber roof. This piece of artwork added just the right note of racing decadence to our orange bomb's insouciant appearance. On our test car, that ultra-light roof was included in a $9,750 "Dynamic Handling Package" that replaced standard 21" cast alloy rims with specially finished forged 21-inch alloys, added a Torsen Limited Slip differential to facilitate full throttle adhesion, as well as Active Rear Steering to quicken corner turn-in. The Package also included a modestly sized, speed-activated rear wing which you can control from the cockpit. Finally, this ten grand up-fit provided a group of cosmetic niceties like Alcantara sports seats and headliner, plus carbon fiber door scuff plates that match the roof.
Lexus, which once boasted the industry's most understandable combination of physical buttons and menu-driven screen options, has now relegated communications and infotainment decisions to an unintuitive tablet. I searched in vain for a simple button to activate the seat heaters. My wife, riding shotgun, discovered that in the absence of any physical switch, seat heating now requires a deep dive through four separate menus replete with continuous fiddling. This charade helped me better understand the current fervor for self-driving cars: you need auto-pilot to free you from driving so you can tweak your way through endless menu selections. Be advised that you cannot safely do both at the same time.
Perhaps you can ignore the menu plague once you've got your personal preferences squared away. Only then can you just focus on driving this wonderful heavy cruiser. It is without doubt one of the most entertaining rides you can buy today. Augmenting its incredible straight-line quickness is a matching propensity to straighten curves. Super sticky (TW 280) Dunlop Sport Maxx 050 DSST tires clamp each corner to the ground with magnetic grip. The sidewalls of these tires (245/40R21 front;275/35R21 rear) are so short you can't even read the manufacturer's fine print without a magnifying glass.
Even in "Normal" Drive Mode, the LC will straighten challenging curves with disdain. Dial up "Sport" or "Sport+" from the pinnacle mounted Mode select knob, and the LC hunkers down on its finely tuned suspension to give you the thrill ride of your life. This coupe redefines what the Lexus brand is all about these days: an expected veneer of velveteen luxury deceptively layered over the unexpected core of a snarling beast.
2023 LEXUS LC 500 COUPE
ENGINE: 5.0 liter V8, aluminum block and heads, DOHC 32-valve, port and direct fuel injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 16MPG City/25MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $106,885
HYPES: Best V8, Best Suspension, Best Looks
GRIPES: Dismal and Annoying Graphic User Interface
STAR RATING: 9.5 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman