As the wife of an automotive journalist I have gotten to drive some cool cars. Josh is a car nut through and through, and he’s exposed me to a world I didn’t know existed. While I have contributed to car reviews here on RawAutos in the past, this is the first time when I asked Josh if I could do the review by myself. Meaning I drove the car for the whole week, and hubby only took the photos and made the videos. Sure, he drove it a little, but this review is 100% me telling it how I think it should be told. So if you hate it, don’t @ me.
Convertibles are a dying breed. We get fewer and fewer each year. In a world where more people are buying cars for their efficiency rather than their bravado, cars with class like the 2021 Lexus LC500 will soon become rarities.
Our test car came in Ultra White with Circuit Red interior and a Black top. The LC 500 Convertible has a base price of $102,215, including a $1,025 delivery and handling fee. Our car came optioned with $2,650 worth of worth it 21″ forged wheels, head-up display at $900 (weird that this is an option on such an expensive car), the limited-slip differential for $460, and the $5,290 Touring Package, for an as-tested price of $111,325. The Touring Package adds semi-Aniline leather trimmed seats, Climate Concierge with upper body heating (a fancy way of saying it’ll keep the back of your neck warm), the 13-speaker, 915-watt Mark Levinson surround sound, heated leather steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, and finally, embossed headrests. The embossing, interestingly, isn’t on the headrest of the seats, but on the back of the headrests. It looks nice, but I feel like they could or maybe should have done that on the front of the headrest like Porsche do. But, I guess it’s also unique that the logo is visible to the person who you angrily stuffed in the luggage-only rear seat. The LC 500 is rear-wheel drive only, as of now. I don’t know that Lexus have any plans to all-wheel this beast.
Let’s start with the looks: with its gapping front grill, soft top, COVID-free flush door handles and 21-inch wheels the 2021 Lexus LC500 is an attention getter. Now I know a lot of people are peeved with how big the ‘mouth’ (or grill) is getting on these cars but as little Red Riding hood used to say…oh my what big teeth you have, the better to eat you with. Ha, that was bad, moving on.
Josh and I both agree that the look of a soft top is refreshing and classy. Hard tops rarely do anything for me, as I feel they make cars look awkward. Although I’m not a huge convertible person anyway.
The larger grills actually help with aerodynamics and cooling down the naturally-aspirated 5.0L V8 that pumps out 471-horsepower at 7100 rpm and 398 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm. No forced induction here, people. This is old school muscle. The more you keep your foot in the throttle, the angrier and more interesting the LC 500 gets. The only transmission offered is a 10-speed paddle-shiftable automatic, which Lexus say will shift in 0.12 seconds, or 120 milliseconds, which isn’t too far off some of the fastest shifting ZF automatics and dual-clutches of today. If someone doesn’t see this car coming, they definitely will hear it, as that noise is absolutely intoxicating… especially as the driver or passenger with the top down. Top up it sounds good, but that 5-liter gets more aggressive than any Lexus before it, outside of the LF-A, of course. Man, I wish I could drive one of those. Until then, the LC 500 is the closest thing Lexus will give us.
And the thing that you will see as it passes you is the vented side panels (that are actually REAL), which help reduces drag, along with the lip on the trunk lid. That lip becomes a spoiler that slides up at 50 mph and retracts at 25 mph. Josh wouldn’t stop remarking on how much he loved the infinite taillights. When the lights are off the taillights look completely blacked out, but once on they have this amazing layered style that seems to go on forever.
The interior of this car is confining, but never uncomfortable. It is confining in the way you feel when you wrap up in a weighted blanket. Tight yet secure. There were quite a few features I enjoyed about this interior, so let’s start with the Shrek “horns” in front of the steering wheel on either side of the gauge cluster binnacle.
This is by far the best placement for driving modes I’ve ever experienced. There is nothing like having to look down when you want to change your drive setting in the middle of driving. Lexus did a great job at giving the driver safe and easy access to that by placing it behind the steering so you can maintain focus on the road ahead.
The left “horn” controls the traction control, as well as a snow driving setting, and the right horn takes care of your sport/sport +, normal, custom, comfort, and eco driving modes.
However, Lexus did not make everything so easy in this car. There is no way for me to sugar coat this, but the trackpad in the LC 500 reminded me of my old BlackBerry Storm. It’s sticky and delayed haptic feedback dated the whole infotainment system back five years. It would have been great if I had the option to not use the trackpad, but in order to access some key features, such as heated and cooled seat controls, which I use all year long, you had to use the trackpad to access those deeper settings within the convoluted menu setup. Basically, thank God for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
When you do turn on the heated and cooled seats, you’ll feel a breeze on the back of your neck because there are small vents on the headrest of seats. Makes sense because when you’re cold you’re most likely cold all over not just on your bum.
With the 10.3-inch display you of course have the option of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, in addition to Lexus’ Amazon Alexa-driven infotainment app. With the technology in this car, you have a whole slew of safety options which is all under the Lexus Safety system. Every car company labels their safety feature as a specialty system, but they seem to all cover the basics.
Driving the Lexus LC 500 Convertible was an absolute dream. It is responsive, with quick steering and a front end that is eager to go where you point the wheel, and a surprisingly light-on-its-feet attitude, even though the LC ‘vert is just shy of 4500 pounds. With the heft the 5.0L V8 could use more torque, and even have peak horsepower come in lower than 7100 rpm. Josh and I both loved that you could rev to 7300 naturally-aspirated rpm, but peak power comes in right at the tippy-top. More often than not you’re shifting well below 7000 rpm. Again, though, you won’t want for more sound. With the top down, roaring through back roads or on and off highway ramps, the Lexus is at absolute ease. It’s basically unflappable.
While the Lexus LC 500 does have a back seat, it’s really only there as an extra storage area. A full-sized adult cannot fit comfortably. I mean, could your small kid fit back there, sure, but I highly doubt it’ll be easy for them. I wish they would have just made the rear area a shelf with maybe some storage bins similar to the Mercedes-Benz SL. The 3 cubic feet of truck space was just enough for me to fit my daily backpack in but not much more. Basically, you can do some grocery shopping, just not at Sam’s Club or Costco. That’s also why there are back seats… One of the neat things is that the trunk button is actually hidden in the rear taillight.
The last thing I will point out about the interior is the head-up display, which in a car that cost six figures is expected. Heads up displays are a feature I believe all cars need and should come standard with (interestingly our next three test cars in a row all had a HUD, and all were under $45,000 as-tested) it is a great tool that keeps your eyes on the road. The only reason I bring this up is because it took me a solid two days to figure out how to find the HUD. Wanna know why? Because my seat was too low. This just goes to show the comfortability of this car in accommodating taller people in a small cabin.
While the LC 500 Convertible isn’t going to start going toe-to-toe with a 911 Cabriolet any time soon, it is still plenty quick and fun to drive for anyone. Car and Driver’s recent test of the Lexus droptop showed it to hit 60 mph in 4.6-seconds, clip 100 mph in 10.5, run through the 1/4-mile at 13-seconds at 112 mph, do .92g in the 300-ft diameter skidpad, and stop from 70 mph in 168-ft. All within spitting distance of a lighter, more powerful Mercedes-Benz SL550. I would argue that this is a slightly more interesting car overall. It’s better to look at, more sporty from behind the wheel, and even feels lighter even though it’s actually heavier by about 400-450 pounds.
To end my first full, official car review, I would like to say that the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible is one of the finest automobiles I have had the pleasure of being in and driving. While I know Josh would probably go for a 911 because he can get it with a manual transmission, I think the Lexus would be near the top of my list. The overall package of looks, sportiness, comfort, and technology still has me swooning. I just wish the infotainment system weren’t so damn bad. Outside of that, Lexus hit a home run. Even in a cold February when we got the LC 500 it made every day feel warmer and brighter.