We drive the Lexus LC500h

The Lexus LC500h really stands out in a crowd
The Lexus LC500h really stands out in a crowd

In a world of generic cars that look alike, the Lexus LC500h stands out. It looks like nothing else available today and Lexus did an amazing job with the original LF-LC 2012 concept car that became the LC500h.

The styling of the LC500h is simply stunning and it stands out in a crowd. The interior styling does not disappoint either. The inside is typical Lexus with beautiful styling and fantastic materials that really fit the price point of the LC.

The LC500h is not a sports car although it comes pretty close. There is definitely room for a special F version but that is a topic for another day. The LC500h aims to achieve sports car handling with a high degree of ride comfort. The front suspension features a double ball joint set up that allows for good wheel control and precise steering response with better initial effort.

All but one of the control arms are made of lightweight forged aluminum, reducing unsprung weight and improving suspension response. The LC driver will feel the effectiveness of the suspension design with immediate response at initial turn-in, controlled body motion and precise, linear response.

“We spent more than triple the usual amount of R&D time to pursue linear steering and to find the sweet spot for road contact feel," said LC Chief Engineer Koji Sato. For a luxury car, the LC feels extremely well planted around corners.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The wide 64 inch track helps the car feel stable and the 245/45-20 front and 275/40-20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires provide terrific grip. The brakes also work well with 6-piston front brake calipers and 4-piston rear calipers

Lexus claims that the strategic use of lightweight, high-strength steels yield a structure that is more resistant to twisting forces than any other Lexus. Despite that claim, we felt some body flex on bumpy roads. Lexus really worked on lowering the center of gravity of the LC by placing as many items in the center of the car. The drivetrain mass is located behind the front axle line to create a front mid-ship layout.

The driver hip and heel points are lowered and wheels are pushed to the corners. The low center of gravity enabled Lexus to reduce the LC500’s roll angle without making the suspension too stiff, which would hurt ride comfort. Aluminum is used for the hood, front fenders and door skins, with the inner panels of the doors and trunk made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer sheet-molding compound. Only the rear fenders are steel.

The rear view
The rear view

Another new technique is used for combining aluminum with steel to help save weight in key areas, notably the front suspension towers. The use of self-piercing riveting allows these different metals to be securely joined where traditional welding methods are unsuitable.

Lexus developed a new Multi Stage Hybrid System specifically for the LC 500h. Like other Lexus hybrid configurations, the Multi Stage Hybrid System teams the gasoline engine with two electric motor/generators, but similarities end there. The Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine uses D-4S direct fuel injection, and lightweight valvetrain components allow a 6,600-rpm redline, with Dual VVT-i ensuring ample torque across the engine speed range.

The new system keeps the planetary-type continuously variable transmission from Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive and also adds a unique four-speed automatic transmission. Working in concert, the two gearsets alter output in four stages to utilize the V6 engine across the entire speed range.

In M mode, the two gearsets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios. In automatic mode, AI shift control matches gear selection to driving conditions and driver inputs.

Combined system output is 354 hp and the LC feels very quick at most speeds. The car really doesn’t feel like a hybrid in most situations which a good thing. The best part is that the LC gets hybrid fuel economy. We averaged 35 mpg which was impressive for a vehicle of this size and power.

A luxurious interior
A luxurious interior

The biggest issue we found with the LC was with the interior. You can tell that the engineers worked very hard to make the LC’s interior as stunning as its exterior. Unfortunately, that meant that many functions don’t have buttons so if you want to turn on the heated seats, you have to navigate menu items in the 10.3-inch center display. And since you have to scroll through the menu with a mouse, it can be really distracting.

The LC500h is an amazing car and driving it is always full of pleasure. Good things in life are usually not cheap and the LC500h is certainly not in most people’s budget. Base price for the LC500h is $97,505 and our car with a few options was just over $101,000. That price ensures that you will be the only person in your block with an LC500h

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