As seen by our ongoing love affair with crossover SUVs, Americans are a practical bunch. Why not drive big with gas prices so low?
If only practicality weren’t so boring.
Fortunately, for those seeking a vehicle that puts luxury and fun above function, there’s the 2018 Lexus LC, a beguilingly beautiful driveway accessory you’ll never see hauling lumber on a home improvement show — even though, let’s be honest, this zippy number will do far more to improve your life than any bathroom remodel.
The LC is the spiritual successor to the SC, which debuted shortly after Lexus did in the early 1990s. Long and lithe, the first-generation coupes had a sublime richness that oozed wealth. With the second generation, the car became a rather stubby hardtop coupe. While still suitably upscale, it somehow missed the mark and, after 2010, disappeared.
In many ways, the LC recalls the original SC in concept even as its design eschews the SC’s classically quiet elegance for a kinetic, knife-edged sensuality. It simultaneously challenges and entrances your aesthetic sensibilities.
Built on Lexus’ new GA-L — global architecture, luxury — platform, the LC is, like its predecessors, a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe. The LC500 gets a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid 500h uses an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V-6 connected to electric motors and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Choose the gasoline engine, and you’ll have 471 horsepower under your right foot. The hybrid system, meanwhile, puts 354 ponies at your command.
It’s no surprise that the gas-powered 500 is more fun to drive.
You’ll be hooked from the moment you experience the symphony of its throaty roar. And the infatuation will only grow once you throw it into a corner and find it planted with a low center of gravity, more than retaining its composure as you put it through its paces. Its super-smooth suspension only sweetens the deal.
Rear-wheel steering is optional, but those who forgo it won’t miss it. The car’s agility is plenty impressive without.
The hybrid 500h, meanwhile, is much less entertaining, offering noticeably less power and a transmission that fails in trying to hide its continuously variable structure.
With either option, the LC’s demeanor is more grand-touring car than purebred sports machine, which makes it easy to live with. That aura’s created in no small part by the opulent cabin, outfitted in an assortment of soft suede, stitched leather and refined metallic accents. Its design is particularly appealing, with a soft flowing look that echoes the exterior.
All will be pleasing until you open the trunk. There, you’ll find a ridiculously miserly 5.4 cubic feet of space.
But for those desiring something special, a flagship coupe that declares its impracticality in a sea of boring-but-good, the 2018 Lexus LC is the fresh-faced punk you’ve been hoping to meet. Just be sure and pack lightly.
Then again, you always were the practical type.
2018 Lexus LC
Base prices: $92,000 (V-8); $96,510 (hybrid)
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8; Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 471; 354
Fuel type: Premium
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): Not available