Review and Test Drive: 2018 Lexus LC 500h Hybrid Luxury Coupe

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DRIVING THE 2018 LEXUS LC 500H

With driving this time in the New York metro area as opposed to our last encounter with the LC, which was in Kona, we were able to get a better idea of real-world performance and fuel economy.

The LC 500h has an impressive “multi-stage” transmission that is somewhere on the spectrum between continuously variable and direct shift, paired to a V6/electric motor-power plant that delivers a 354 horsepower. The Multi Stage is essentially a CVT bolted to a four-speed planetary gearbox and the net effect is that this expands the hybrid operating range, allowing the LC 500h to accelerate at high rpm in lower gears and also to cruise at higher speeds at lower rpm, à la overdrive.

This gives the driver a more natural feeling as torque builds, much more akin to a performance car than the average hybrid. When accelerating from a standstill, the hybrid seems to provide the same punch as the non-hybrid V8, getting to 60 mph (96 km/h) in a mere 4.7 seconds, only 0.3 seconds slower than the V8.

Steering is responsive and engaging, with good feedback. On the twisties, handling is exemplary with excellent balance and poise. Switching to manual mode lets the driver dial through all ten gears via titanium paddles on the steering column.

A low center of gravity helps ensure minimal body roll and, compared to other Lexus models, the driver has been positioned closer to the center of gravity to improve overall driving dynamics.

The LC 500h is the first production car from Lexus to use a compact, lightweight lithium-ion hybrid battery. Relocated to the trunk area and 20% smaller than the nickel-metal hydride battery in the LS, its 84 cells produce 310.8 Volts. The only hint, other than its badge, that it’s a hybrid is the dual exhaust.

The LC 500h won’t meet its EPA ratings at the speeds you’ll want to drive it, but it does quite well for a car of this caliber. In our week with the LC 500h, with a 50-50 mixture of spirited highway driving and local traffic, we averaged 27.5 mpg (8.56 l/100), decidedly better than the V8 variant of the LC but somewhat under the EPA rating of 26 mpg/9.0 l/100 km in town, 35/6.7 on the highway, and 30/7.8 combined). The LC in hybrid guise is capable of traveling up to four miles (6.5 kilometers) on battery power so drivers can run local errands emissions free.

BOTTOM LINE

The Lexus LC 500h is a true luxury coupe for the 21st century. Toyoda-san must be pleased.

THE DETAILS

  2018 Lexus LC 500h
Base price/price-as-tested $96,510/$100,655
Drivetrain Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 3.5-liter V6 and electric motor
Horsepower 354
Transmission 10-speed Multistage (CVT and 4-speed automatic)
Curb weight (lbs) 4,435
Wheelbase (inches) 113
Length x width x height(inches) 187.4 x 75.6 x 53.0
0-60 mph (seconds) (est.) 4.7
Fuel economy (mpg) (city/hwy) 26/35

 

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

 

 

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