LC Hybrid

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2021 Lexus LC Hybrid Overview

There are a flurry of changes due for Lexus’ hybrid GT, the LC 500h, in 2021, and the good… nay, the great news is, that the addition of Android Auto is one of the small ones. With increased performance, suspension, and transmission updates joining an updated infotainment system, there’s a lot to be happy about for the 2021 LC 500h. Engineers went to work removing almost 22 lbs of unsprung mass by using aluminum lower suspension arms, hollow anti-roll bars, lighter coil springs, and lighter wheels. This should have a transformative effect on the handling, and allowed Lexus to retune the suspension to take advantage of this change for a smoother ride with more grip.

Going a little bit further, Active Cornering Assist has now been added to the full LC lineup, allowing the car to brake the inside wheels to keep your line through a turn if things start to get hairy. Additionally, shift timing on the 500h has been updated to optimize both performance and efficiency, depending on how you’re driving. There have also been some cosmetic changes as Bespoke White Leather has been discontinued from the interior palette, while Rioja Red Leather has been replaced with Flare Red. On the outside, look for two new paint options—Cadmium Orange and Nori Green Pearl.

The loss of 22 lbs of unsprung mass is one of those updates that sounds boring to your average consumer but can have an astonishing effect on the handling characteristics of a car, and this goes double for the heavier LC 500h. With the extra weight of the batteries and the electric motors, every pound lost is welcome.

That’s not to say the LC 500h is some sort of lumbering behemoth. Sure, it can’t scoot like its gasoline V8 brothers, but with a 3.5-liter V6 paired to two electric motors, you’re still getting 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That means you’ll hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds as opposed to the LC 500’s 4.4-second time. Truthfully, you’d be hard-pressed to really notice that .3 seconds, but what you will notice is how rarely you have to hit the pump. The best the LC 500 can manage is 16 mpg city and 25 highway, 19 combined. The LC 500h? 26 city, 34 highway, and 29 combined. That’s a HUGE difference. The LC 500h manages these impressive numbers thanks to an innovative transmission design that works in concert with the hybrid system. Here, a traditional 4-speed automatic is embedded inside a continuously variable transmission (CVT), providing the equivalent of 10 gears and all the performance you need while still maximizing efficiency.

There are no trims to choose from, so all you have to do is decide your options. Thankfully, the LC 500h comes quite well equipped before you even start tacking on the costly features. An adjustable suspension, heated and ventilated leather front seats, navigation, and heated auto-dimming mirrors are all standard. You’ll get a 10.3-inch display, and a long list of safety features that include adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and auto high beams. From there, you can augment your experience to your own liking. Want more performance? Go with a carbon-fiber roof, limited-slip differential, variable-ratio steering, and active rear steering. Tech more your forte? How about a head-up display and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson stereo? And we’re not even getting into the long list of cosmetics, like unique 20 and 21-inch wheels.

In all, the LC 500h represents an interesting alternative to the typical GT cruiser—fast and fancy, while still getting better gas mileage than a lot of compacts. That’s hard to beat, as long as you can afford the price of entry.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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