Stylish and sleek. Plenty of safety tech. Powerful and luxurious.
Small Back Seat
What gives you luxurious comfort, fuel efficiency, a striking exterior, and a heaping helping of performance all in a grand touring coupe? Lexus brings us the LC 500h with its hybrid gas-electric powertrain that delivers all this and more. Lexus is going head-to-head with the best grand touring coupes in the world. This week, we have been driving the 2019 Lexus LC 500h which offers everything you could ask for in one eco-performance package.
For the 2019 model year, the LC 500h gets a re-tuned hybrid system for improved driving feel. Similarly, the Adaptive Variable Suspension receives new bushings on the damper rods, along with other changes to benefit rebound and compression. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa now come standard.
Available exterior colors include Caviar, Obsidian, Smoky Granite Mica, Atomic Silver, Liquid Platinum, Ultra White, Infrared, Autumn Shimmer, and Nightfall Mica.
Features & Options: Convenience & Performance Focused
Our 2019 Lexus LC 500h ($96,710) came loaded with an adjustable suspension, adaptive cruise control, LED exterior lights, automatic high-beam control, and heated and auto-dimming mirrors. On the inside, standard features include ambient interior lighting; a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats; driver-seat memory settings, and leather-upholstered front seats.
On the tech front, you get a 10.3-inch central display, a navigation system, two USB ports, and a 12-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are now standard, along with dynamic voice control and in-car Wi-Fi. Safety features include forward collision warning with automatic braking, and lane departure warning and intervention.
Options on this LC 500h tester included the All-Weather package with a heated steering wheel and windshield de-icer. The Convenience package gave us front and rear parking sensors; blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert; 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system; heads-up display, and 21-inch forged wheels. The Performance package brought the Sport pack, which added a number of options: carbon-fiber roof; adaptive rear spoiler; active rear and variable-ratio steering; carbon-fiber kick plates, and the simulated-suede headliner.
Total MSRP including destination: $108,895.
Interior Highlights: Really Nice But Distracting At Times
The cabin of our 2019 Lexus LC 500h was especially attractive with its bright white interior, leather stitching on the seats, and an overall angular shape under a full glass roof. When we sat in the driver’s seat, we felt separated from the passenger side as the horizontal dashboard forms a wall that manages to keep the driver feeling like they are in the cockpit of a race car. This type of setup should delight and excite driving enthusiasts.
We almost felt on visual overload with the many switches, toggles, displays, and touchpads, all of which can be distracting if you’re not careful. We are not fans of Lexus’ infotainment interface mouse. It’s not easy to operate and is most-distracting and difficult to use even at low speeds. You have to be stopped before it’s safe to really use. Otherwise on the safety and tech front, the 2019 LC 500h comes complimentary with Lexus Enform Safety Connect for the first 10 years of ownership. Enform Remote lets you start the vehicle, lock and unlock the doors, check the fuel level and more via your smartphone or watch.
We thought the 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system offers incredible clarity with its 915 watts. It made our drive that much more enjoyable, although we went at it alone. The back seat is really only useful for cargo and very small children. Adults will not be able to sit comfortably for even a short ride.
The LC 500h is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine, coupled with two electric motors driven by a 44 kW lithium-ion battery. It produces a combined 354 horsepower, can hit 60 in 4.7 seconds, and reach 155 if you can find a long open stretch of highway. One motor moves the car at low speeds through three programmable levels of power, while the second motor adds power at higher speeds.
Two transmissions, a continuously variable automatic and a four-speed conventional automatic, work in conjunction to drive the rear wheels. The transmissions simulate a total of 10 gears, which can be manually selected using the steering wheel paddle shifters.
Lexus says the LC 500h can travel four miles on battery power alone. The battery pack resides between the rear seats and the luggage compartment, its 84 cells producing 310.8 volts. EPA fuel-mileage estimates come in at 27/35 city/highway and 30 combined mpg.
Driving Dynamics: Don’t Let The Hybrid Badge Fool You
While we wished for the V8 powertrain in this luxury coupe, we were not totally disappointed either. The gas/electric LC 500h accelerates quickly with a synthetic soundtrack to simulate the sound of the V8. It’s not as satisfying as the real thing, but the 500h has enough power to have fun. The electric motor provides lots of torque, so when you hit the pedal, it jumps off the line. We pushed the LC 500h hard up I-70 at altitude and we never felt like we needed more power.
We were glad for the heads-up display that helped keep our eyes fixed on the road, and looking for local law enforcement. Don’t let the hybrid badge on the 2019 Lexus LC 500h fool you. It would be easy to get a ticket in this luxury performance coupe.
The Lexus LC is no lightweight, weighing more than a comparable Chevy Corvette or Jaguar F-Type. Still, even with the extra weight from the battery, the suspension remains firm and offers extra cornering ability. We were impressed as we rolled through the tight mountain curves west of Denver. The optional, staggered-width 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport run-flat tires give a bit stiffer ride, but the huge disc brakes offered plenty of stopping power.
Conclusion: An Ideal Blend
Overall, the 2019 Lexus LC 500h offers up a compliant ride, and a healthy dose of performance with a fuel-efficient drivetrain. It’s gentle enough for taking your date out on the town, but aggressive enough if you want to have fun in the corners. It’s a good blend between a performance sports coupe and luxury car.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy