A middle-aged man and his three teenage companions stopped in a coffee shop parking lot, gawked at the exterior of the 2018 Lexus LC 500 and asked if they could check out the inside. A guy in an old pick-up with a dilapidated camper shell stopped in the middle of a street near to where the Lexus was parked and started a conversation about saving his money to buy one.
Some people pointed, others provided a thumb’s up or exclaimed “nice wheels, dude.” A few young drivers pulled up near me on the freeway, momentarily glared and sped off, perhaps suggesting I follow them. It was tempting, but no thanks, fellas.
And so it goes with the upscale coupe, the new Lexis flagship. The exterior design, simultaneously sharp-angled and voluptuous, define a sports car. The LC 500 doesn’t advance down the road far without attracting attention. While its visual appeal is attention-grabbing, the new Lexus can be heard before seen. It has a wondrous engine growl, a Maserati-like guttural blast of attitude upon ignition.
A four-seat coupe with touring tendencies, the LC 500 is equipped with a 5-liter, 471-horsepower V8 and a 10-speed direct shift automatic transmission and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. It’s also available in a hybrid model. But why ruin the fun?
With a starting price of $92,000, the new Lexus should offer a bundle, and it does. It’s a lengthy list, not the least of which are standard 20-inch, 10-spoke cast alloy wheels with run-flat tires, LED exterior lights, automatic high-beam control, heated and auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting and an 8-inch driver information screen.
There’s also a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with two-way power lumbar adjustment), driver-seat memory settings, adjustable driving modes, leather-upholstered front seats and simulated leather rear seats. It’s comfortable, futuristic-feeling ride.
Consider also the 10.3-inch central display, a top-end navigation system, two USB ports and HD and satellite radio. Notable safety features include a rearview camera, head-up displace, pre-collision warning system with automatic braking as well as lane departure warning and mitigation.
Several optional packages and the destination and handling fee included in the review vehicle catapulted the LC 500’s price to $102,890.
For the money, you might as well get the carbon fiber roof and top-line Mark Levinson sound system with 13 speakers. And the Torsen limited-slip differential and the multiple driving modes transform the new Lexus into a smooth-driving touring machine. While on assignment with a colleague, we negotiated a few brief sections of country gravel roads. Road imperfections? Potholes? Where? We might as well have been driving on a few miles of pool table top velvet.
Pure speed freaks might complain. The LC 500 isn’t the fastest machine on the street, completing the 0-60 miles per hour standard in 4.4 seconds. But it’s quick enough, and the corresponding gas mileage for its segment is acceptable — 16 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 miles per gallon on the freeway.
For the front seat passenger, the Lexus LC 500 has two inset grip handles. It’s part of the coupe’s
persona. It adds to the experience, like holding on during an amusement park ride just because you can.
As a first-year vehicle, the Lexus LC500’s future is unknown. But even as a newcomer, the coupe has a pending honor, at at least it should. Every decade or so, car publications publish their choices for the top-100 most beautiful cars in history. Not many recent-year vehicles ever make the lists. The new Lexus deserves the designation.
2018 Lexus LC 500
ACCELERATION: 0-60 mph, 4.4 seconds.
FUEL ECONOMY: 16 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway), 19 mpg (combined) 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
PRICE AS TESTED: $102,890.
WARRANTY: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 8 years/70,000 miles.
Article Last Updated: May 5, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.