Specifications of Lexus LC 500 V8 (477 HP) Automatic
General characteristics of Lexus LC 500 V8 (477 HP) Automatic
The 2021 LC 500 has retained the same dimensions as last year's model, which means a length of 187.4 inches, a wheelbase measuring 113 inches, a width of 75.6 inches excluding the mirrors, and a height of 53 inches. A Porsche 911 is narrower by close to three inches, so you notice the LC's size a bit more around town. Although Lexus says that unsprung mass has been reduced by 22 pounds, the 2021 LC 500 has a higher curb weight of 4,340 lbs - an increase of 60 lbs over last year's model.
Using old-school displacement to generate peak outputs of 471 hp and 398 lb-ft, the Lexus' turbo-free 5.0-liter V8 engine is lazier lower down in the rev band; but this only encourages you to take it by the scruff of the neck and drive it hard. As with many naturally aspirated engines, power builds progressively, with none of the spikiness that some turbocharged engines experience. As before, a 10-speed automatic transmission is fitted, but this year sees changes to the gearbox's timing, specifically in the 50-70 percent throttle range, which is where Lexus says most drivers will find themselves. The changes mean that within this throttle range, the V8 revs higher than before, heightening the sensation of power and acceleration.
The first and overriding impression the LC 500 delivers as you pull away is from the engine. It's an eight-cylinder symphony that builds to a crescendo at 7,300 revs before a gear change is necessary, then the orchestra starts winding up again. Even in economy mode, where the engine performs the neat trick of switching into the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle, it sounds like a big V8 should. Twist the mode selector to Sport, and the LC 500 becomes an angry beast. The throttle response tightens up, and the 10-speed auto stretches then hold the gears for you. Use the paddles, and the gear-shift is impeccably smooth and fast.
In regular traffic and driving conditions, the 10-speed automatic transmission could use a little extra refinement. It's far from a deal-breaker, though, as the transition into the next gear is so smooth. Ride quality is as close to impeccable as we've found in a car that also rides on firm suspension. We spent a lot of time on the freeway in our week with the LC 500 and found the suspension dealt with California's most corrugated highways incredibly well.
Off the freeway is where you can give the chassis a workout, and while the Lexus isn't as razor-sharp as, say, the Porsche 911, it's exuberance is infectious. The near 50/50 front-to-rear weight balance and tight chassis keep the visceral enthusiasm in check. The LC 500 is a car you can confidently throw into a corner then kick it out again with a big grin. Lap times be damned, the LC 500 is a fun car to drive hard once you've soaked up the sophisticated style and beauty.
EPA estimates for the LC 500 Coupe stand at 16/25/19 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, which isn't terrible considering that the Porsche 911 - with a smaller turbocharged six-cylinder engine - achieves a combined rating of 20 mpg. As with most powerful sports cars, the LC 500's economy will vary considerably based on your driving style. The Lexus gets a 21.7-gallon gas tank, so when filled to the brim, a mixed range of around 412 miles will be possible.
We've seen reports of people getting 30 mpg on a long freeway run, and we tried. We didn't get as high as 30 mpg but saw a better than EPA estimated 27. Overall, we came in at 17 mpg, but believe 19 mpg is realistic if you can resist being heavy-footed on the accelerator long enough.
Technically, the LC 500 is a four-seater. Realistically, the rear seats are only useful for extra storage or if you're willing to risk back injury while getting a safety seat and toddler back there.
The front seats are the only seats that matter in a sports car like this. And the good news is that the standard seats are exceptionally well designed and comfortable. They're sculpted to keep you in place at high speed, but not confining enough to notice they're doing that. After a multi-hour stint of driving, we found there was still no discomfort.
Legroom up front is a stretch worthy 42 inches, while the back has an optimistic 32.5. The 37.2 inches of headroom is enough for a tall driver despite it being a low car, and the wide doors make getting in and out easy enough. The cabin is surprisingly airy inside, given that it looks like a cockpit from the outside. Like a cockpit, though, visibility is excellent and helps negate the front overhang being an issue when parking.
One gets the impression that Lexus installed a trunk on the LC 500 begrudgingly, because only that would explain its puny size of just 5.4 cubic feet. Your set of golf clubs will have to take the place of a front-seat passenger, then. At a squeeze, two carry-on cases can be accommodated in the trunk, but that's about it.
Although the glovebox lid is perfectly damped and opens with all the class expected of a Lexus, the fanciful show isn't especially worthwhile as there's not much space in there. The door pockets aren't deep enough, either, and neither is the center console. There's only one dedicated drink holder, although the small cubby behind it works as one if needed. In terms of practicality, the LC 500 is much more sports car than GT.