2017 Lexus LC 500 Review

LC 500

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2017 Lexus LC 500 Overview

Certain automakers have seemingly inescapable reputations. While Lexus has a sterling record for its reliable cars, it has also–perhaps undeservedly–earned a stigma for making boring cars. In an effort to eradicate that reputation, the Japanese automaker has redesigned its entire lineup in the last decade and is now releasing a hot new model, the 2017 Lexus LC 500.

The LC 500 is a sort of evolution of the LFA supercar (built between 2010 and 2012), continuing the LFA's dramatic interpretation of Lexus styling, but in a less exclusive package. While the LFA had a starting price of $375,000, the LC is reported to start under $100,000. It is a V8-powered grand tourer, essentially in the guise of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe or Audi S5, and it slots above Lexus' RC coupe lineup. Lexus is making a statement with the LC500: the status quo of beige and bland will no longer be part of the brand’s makeup going forward.

The dramatic lines you see on the LC began with the Lexus LF-LC concept back in 2012. Many disregarded that concept as nothing more than a design study, certainly not something foreshadowing an actual production model. So those critics were understandably stunned when a production model of the LC was announced.

The first feature you’ll notice on the LC 500 is its gigantic spindle grille, flanked by headlight assemblies that almost appear to melt into the lower front air intakes on each side of the front fascia. Character lines swoop toward the back of the car, alongside lower air intakes for cooling the rear brakes, a blacked-out C-pillar, and a distinctive notch at the back of the rear window. The LC comes with standard 20-inch machine-cast aluminum or available 21-inch forged aluminum wheels, both of which are clad with run-flat tires to avoid the weight and space of carrying a spare.

The rear fascia of the LC is equally dramatic, with a spoiler built into the rear decklid, sinister taillights, and integrated exhaust outlets. Lexus stayed incredibly close to the original LF-LC concept, and the LC 500 is like nothing we’ve seen in a production car.

At the heart of the LC 500 is a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, mounted in the front of Lexus' new rear-drive luxury chassis platform. That V8 is the same brutish powerplant found under the hoods of the GS F and RC F, able to produce 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Lexus claims this combination is good for a 0-to-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds.

But grand touring cars like the LC involve more than just power and speed. They are about combining that power and speed with dramatic exterior styling and a lavish cabin. The LC 500 features a “2+2” seating layout with bucket seats that hold passengers during hard cornering. The overall dash design is very driver-centric, with straight lines flowing across to a leather-wrapped buttress that serves as a handle for the front passenger. All primary controls are at the driver’s right fingertips, including the shifter, drive mode selector (which includes Normal, Eco, and Sport modes), and the controller for the Lexus Remote Touch System.

Remote Touch is Lexus' proprietary suite of entertainment, navigation, controls, and settings, and it resides in a massive screen in the center of the dash. The controller is something between a joystick, trackpad, and mouse (it uses a cursor on the screen) and can employ a split-screen format, for instance displaying navigation on one side and radio presets or climate controls on the the other.

The LC will also be the first Lexus to feature the new multimedia package, which includes updated software for improved response time in the navigation system and various menus. A Pioneer audio system comes standard, and a Mark Levinson premium audio system is optional. The Lexus Safety System+ is also featured, including forward collision avoidance, a lane-departure warning system, and dynamic radar cruise control, which matches the speed of the vehicle on the road ahead.

The LC 500's slated sub-$100,000 starting price puts it in the same neighborhood as a top-tier Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, above the Audi RS5, and on par for price with the iconic Porsche 911 Carrera S and Tesla Model S P85D. An eclectic bunch, for sure–but at this price point, vehicles become stylish accessories rather than simply a means of conveyance.

And of all the similarly-priced vehicles, the Lexus LC 500 has some of the most aggressive looks we’ve so far seen. We’ll have to see if the sonorous V8 and new chassis back up those stunning looks when the car arrives in early 2017. But for now, the old days of boring Lexus models are quickly disappearing in the rear-view mirror.

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From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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