The Lexus LC 500h hybrid—an artwork deco inside and two transmissions

A silver Lexus LC 500h coupe
Enlarge / The dramatic styling of the Lexus LC makes it stand out on the highway.

Jonathan Gitlin

The SUV and crossover remains ascendent, and few automotive physique types have fallen by the wayside just like the coupe. As BMW’s head designer informed Ars final yr, “Folks had been ready to make all these compromises as a result of it was cool. And at the moment, folks nonetheless wish to be cool, however they really feel that maybe these compromises should not cool.”

However moderately than vibes, let’s put the issue in context: in 1992, Lexus sold nearly 28,000 SC coupes. The perfect yr for the SC430—its substitute and the final automotive factory-fitted with a cassette participant—was about half that quantity. However in 2023, it is fortunate to promote greater than 100 LC coupes nationwide every month. Those that make the leap will discover dramatic styling in and out, and within the case of this LC 500h, a moderately intriguing hybrid powertrain.

The LC has been on sale for years—Ars first sampled one in 2018—however till now, we might by no means spent greater than a day with swoopy coupé and minimal time with the hybrid model.

21-inch wheels come with the dynamic handling pack.
Enlarge / 21-inch wheels include the dynamic dealing with pack.

Jonathan Gitlin

Beneath that lengthy hood, you will discover a 3.5 L Atkinson cycle V6 with variable valve timing that generates 295 hp (220 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm). There are a pair of electrical motors, however solely certainly one of these sends energy to the rear wheels—the opposite expenses the hybrid system’s lithium-ion traction battery. The overall output from V6 and electrical motor working collectively is 354 hp (264 kW) and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm).

Thus far, that is all fairly regular for a hybrid. Issues begin to get a bit weirder from there, although. Mated to the engine, there’s an electronically managed constantly variable transmission and planetary gearset. The eCVT has six digital gear ratios—sure, this defeats the purpose of a CVT, however that is simply how the world works. However earlier than the driveshaft heads again to the rear wheels, there is a second transmission, which is a traditional four-speed automated.

In apply, that offers you 10 gears, which you’ll be able to management manually by way of the splendidly tactile steel paddles behind the steering wheel. However reality be informed, that does not actually go well with the character of the automotive—as an alternative, go away it in D and let Lexus’ AI choose your ratios for you. It may be a barely unusual expertise as the 2 transmissions shuffle up or down and engine revs change to accommodate, all whilst you progress ahead.

Lexus says there's AI controlling the transmissions, and I can believe it.
Enlarge / Lexus says there’s AI controlling the transmissions, and I can imagine it.

Jonathan Gitlin

Lexus says that the LC 500h can function at as much as 87 mph (140 km) on electrical energy alone, however like different hybrids from Lexus and Toyota, whether or not or not the engine fires is sort of completely right down to the automotive’s digital mind, even when you’ve pressed the EV button on the middle console.

Being very mild together with your proper foot helps maintain it in electrical mode at low speeds, however the 4,420 lb (2,005 kg) curb weight is substantial, and the V6 becoming a member of in helps you get away from a standstill at greater than a strolling tempo. Efficiency is sweet however not staggering—hitting 60 mph from a standstill will take 4.7 seconds, and the LC 500h is electronically restricted to 155 mph (250 km/h).

Our take a look at LC 500h was fitted with the dynamic dealing with bundle ($6,850) that added rear-wheel steering, a torque-sensing limited-slip differential, variable-ratio steering, and 21-inch wheels, in addition to the Alcantara sports activities seats. That stated, the driving expertise is extra GT than sportscar, however none the more serious for that. The automotive sits low and the experience is on the firmer aspect of still-comfortable, but it surely cruises in a cosseting method. Over the course of per week, I could not fairly match the mixed EPA estimate of 29 mpg, sadly.

You really could just spend hours in here touching everything.
Enlarge / You actually might simply spend hours in right here touching every part.


The inside is extra dramatically styled than the LC 500h’s exterior. Lexus’ Takumi grasp craftspeople evidently put in quite a lot of effort, and it reveals. It is an especially tactile inside; the distinction between the suede and clean leather-based on door playing cards and the chilly steel door handles is a deal with for one’s fingertips.

The principle instrument panel has a neat social gathering trick, too. Within the heart is a digital tachometer, harking back to the one within the Lexus LFA supercar. (Lexus first used a digital tach on that automotive as a result of its V10 engine apparently revved too rapidly for a traditional gauge. A minimum of, that was the story on the time.) Push one of many buttons on the multifunction steering wheel, and the gauge slides over an inch or so to the best inside the instrument binnacle, uncovering one other a part of the show which reveals you info like tire pressures or your gas mileage or the state of the motive force assists.

I’ve fewer good issues to say concerning the infotainment system. It has a pleasant-looking person interface on the ten.3-inch display and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however you need to work together with every part by way of a trackpad, which is not the greatest enter machine in a shifting automotive.

None of this comes particularly low cost, however costs are aggressive for this type of luxurious flagship coupe, beginning at $102,350.