|✓ Beautiful styling||☓ Definitely more GT than full-on sports car|
|✓ Fantastic V8 sound||☓ Frustrating infotainment system (Fortunately fixed for 2024)|
|✓ Comfortable GT ride||☓ “Dynamic” handling upgrades are nearly $10K extra|
|✓ The convertible looks even better||☓ Miniscule storage space…even for a coupe|
2023 Lexus LC 500 Overview: Still a shining halo after all these years?
So, I’ll go ahead and mention it anyway even though it’s blindingly obvious and you’re totally expecting me to make this point right off the bat: The Lexus LC 500 is still a phenomenally beautiful car. Five years doesn’t most cars any favors when it comes to design, but Lexus’ “Luxury Coupe” is like an actor who simply never ages. You know the one.
For the 2023 model year, the LC range — including this LC 500 and the hybrid LC 500h — are largely unchanged from previous model years. There’s a new Cloudburst Gray hue, though Lexus decided to send us a Cadmium Orange example that turned heads wherever I drove. Seriously, if you’re going to buy a six-figure luxury coupe, you should go for a more outgoing color like this.
Couple the exterior styling to an elegant interior (with one exception…more on that below) and a 5.0-liter V8 engine, and the Lexus LC 500 is a class act. This car brings a smooth, compliant ride and exhilarating engine note that’s increasingly difficult to find these days. You can get the LCh if you’re looking for much better fuel economy. That said, it’s heavier, more expensive and far less characterful than the old-fashioned V8. Naturally aspirated eight-cylinder GT cars are getting rarer by the year, so if you decide to buy an LC at all, I strongly suggest going for the LC 500, while you still have the chance.
If you’re shopping the LC, though, be prepared to shell out at least $100,000. Probably more, if you select any packages on top of the base car. The Touring package adds semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats, an Alcantara headliner, a 13-speaker/915-watt Mark Levinson sound system, a heated steering wheel and windshield de-icer. The Sport package adds tightly bolstered, Alcantara-trimmed buckets in place of the standard seats, a Torsen limited-slip differential, performance brake pads and year Yamaha dampers.
Then, finally, there’s what I consider to be the most controversial option: the $9,750 Dynamic Handling Package. I’ll get to why that is below, but for what it’s worth you do get active rear steering, variable gear-ratio steering (again, more on that below), the Torsen limited-slip differential, upgraded brake pads, an Alcantara headliner and a carbon fiber roof, as well as carbon fiber scuff plates.
No matter which way you slice it, the 2023 Lexus LC is a pricey flagship coupe. Is it seriously worth this kind of cash, though?
Performance is all about smoothness, not out-and-out speed
Such a remarkably handsome car needs a charismatic engine, and the Lexus LC 500 certainly delivers on that front. Putting out 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque, it manages a soulful symphony of glorious V8 thunder as it works its way through the 10-speed automatic transmission. EPA figures peg the eight-cylinder LC at 16 City / 25 Highway / 19 Combined mpg, and you should entirely expect to sit on the lower end of that scale. You won’t be able to help putting your foot down at every opportunity, just to hear that wonderous noise. In mixed driving, I managed just about 18 mpg.
Continuing with the up sides, the Lexus LC 500 manages its 4,340-pound curb weight with poise. There’s hardly any body roll through the corners, and the ride is superb considering the car sports massive 21-inch wheels as part of the Dynamic Handling Package. Normally, the LC 500 rides on 20s with run-flat tires. The package aims to further improve the handling by way of the variable steering and adaptive rear-wheel steering systems. After some time behind the wheel, I can say the upgrades make the car more responsive to sharp changes in direction, but…it’s not all roses.
Here’s the deal…
When you stamp on the throttle, the noise builds to the point where you expect an explosive burst of speed. Sadly, it never really comes, and that’s the first damper on the epic driving experience you might expect at this price point. And while the handling upgrades do help quicken up the turn-in when you’re in the mood for some spirited driving, there’s a noticeable numbness to the steering. It lacks the more natural feel you get with the base chassis setup.
Add to that a 4.7-second-ish 0-60 time — which isn’t really all that great, considering what the competition can do — and you wonder whether the extra ten grand you spent on the Dynamic Handling Package was worth it. Really, I’d strongly suggest saving your money and sticking with the standard setup. If you want a useful upgrade that isn’t so expensive, the Torsen differential and Yamaha rear shocks are available as a $460 standalone option. The speed-activated rear wing you also get as part of the package is hardly consolation for an extra 10% on top of the base MSRP, either.
The interior is elegant and well-crafted, but there are some headaches
A good halo car should make you feel special the moment you first look at it — check. It should also impress once you get inside, though, and the 2023 Lexus LC 500 largely succeeds on that front too. The seating position is excellent, while the bolsters don’t grip you too tightly if you’re a larger individual. That’s a praise-worthy mark for a great GT car.
Once you’re settled in, the LC treats your senses with luxurious materials, refined design and most of the technology you’d expect in a modern luxury car…as well as some you wouldn’t. You see the central part of the dashboard with the analog clock? How about the area below the climate controls, where you get a CD player. I’m sorry, what year is this?
Those outdated features make the LC 500’s ergonomics feel a bit wonky, but they’re nothing on the downright irritating infotainment system. The LC’s “Enform” system still uses a touchpad that’s not only clunky, but actually distracting if you’re trying to use it while driving. Lexus does include physical controls for most of the major functions so you could avoid using it most of the time, but there are situations where you just can’t. Using the built-in navigation (or even Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) for example, or accessing the heated/ventilated seat controls. You know, because there’s no actual button to directly control that. You can use the double-arrow button behind the trackpad to turn on the automatic controls, but adjusting it further means dealing with the cursed touchpad.
Fortunately…there is a solution
As irritating as some elements of the LC’s interior are, there’s good news: Lexus actually did something about it for the 2024 model year. Not only does it ditch the old infotainment system for Lexus’ latest offering with a 12.3-inch screen, but there’s no more touchpad. Instead, the display itself is a touchscreen and you get a command knob near the center console to work through the menus while you’re on the move. Lexus also removed the analog clock as well as the CD player, improving the LC’s ergonomics over the 2023 and older models.
The LC’s rear seats and cargo area are appropriately impractical
Again lending to the LC 500’s status as a GT car, it does have four seats. At least, it does in theory. Lexus says the rear legroom is 32.5 inches, but that figure is optimistic at best. With the front seats adjusted to accommodate my 6-foot frame, there is virtually no rear space at all. Move the seats forward, and the aperture is too narrow for me to even attempt getting in.
Since Lexus insisted on fitting two extra seats that don’t fold, the cargo space is hysterically small, at just 5.2 cubic feet. By contrast, even the Mercedes-AMG GT has 12.7 cubic feet in its trunk, while the BMW 8 Series Coupe manages 14.8 cubic feet.
Things could be worse, though. You could get the LC 500h, which thanks to its hybrid battery only has 4.7 cubic feet of cargo volume. I know the LC is a stylish coupe, but it’s still a grand tourer. If you take a road trip in this car, just be sure to pack light, as you don’t get much storage space elsewhere in the cabin, either.
Verdict: The Lexus LC 500 is still a great car, but here are a couple ideas for buying one
In covering my stint with Lexus’ halo model, notice how I never used the words “sports car” to describe the experience. As much as the LC packs V8 power, has the nearly $10,000 Dynamic Handling Package and looks like it could mean serious business on a track, it’s just not that sort of proposition. It’s perfectly set up as a grand tourer, though, and I’d be ecstatic to make a cross-country journey in the “Luxury Coupe”. Even better, if you’re looking for an even more seductively styled package, the LC 500 convertible is an even better head-turner.
I do have a couple practical reservations about the LC, however.
At $106,885, you’re doling out a lot of cash for a notably comfy cruiser and a style statement. If you’re going to lay out that kind of cash, you might as well get the LC 500 that’s as sorted as possible so you can enjoy the ride — so buy the 2024 model instead. Lexus addressed many of the frustrating infotainment and ergonomic issues with the updated LC, while leaving the sensational styling and luxurious ambience intact. Two new colors are available for the new model year, as well: Copper Crest and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0. The Lexus Bespoke Build program also offers a plethora of options to tailer the car toward your own tastes, for a bit more money. Pricing for Bespoke Build starts at $102,450 for the LC 500 coupe).
The other idea if you aren’t bothered about having the latest options is to buy a used — I’m sorry, “pre-owned” — LC. A surprising number of cars under $65,000 are popping up all over the country (not a sponsored link, just showing what’s out there), so that’s a solid way to skirt depreciation if you’re looking to save some cash and look like a high-roller in the process.
Who knows? If you find a low-mileage example, you may just have a future classic on your hands.