The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Excels At Taking The Fun Route To Your Lake House
The open-top version of Lexus' excellent grand tourer is the one to buy.
Taking up the tiniest bit of the market, $100,000 luxury convertibles aren't exactly common, but that hasn't stopped Lexus from providing a good one. Higher net worth individuals still want a nice second car that can spoil them while getting a nod of respect from their fellow country club members without being too pretentious. Expecting Lexus to build a grand tourer isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind, but the LC nails it.
Going up against the Mercedes SL, the Lexus is more subtle, but has some advantages. After testing the splendid LC500 coupe not too long ago, I had to give the open-air version a good test. Sadly the weather wasn't on its best behavior, as a cold front blew in with a bit of rain, that only escaped briefly during my test, but I made the most of it.
The Good Specs
The Lexus LC 500 Convertible is a 2+2 convertible, with a folding soft top. Lexus only offers its throaty 5.0-liter V8 in the LC Convertible, as opposed to the coupe that offers this engine in addition to a V6 hybrid. With 471 horsepower @ 7,100 RPM and 398 lb-ft (540 Nm) of torque at 4,800 RPM, the LC's V8 is stout, even if it is a bit old. Mated to a 10-speed automatic, power is sent to the rear wheels through an optional Torsen limited-slip differential, the LC 500 Convertible rips from 0-60 MPH in 4.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 168 MPH. Those are respectable figures for a luxury convertible that weighs 4,450 pounds (2,040 kg). Dimensions are nearly the same as the Mercedes SL, and just slightly longer than a Porsche 911 Cabriolet.
Base price for the Lexus LC Convertible is $101,000 (about $8,000 more than the coupe), and with a few options added to my Inrafred--what a cool name--tester, the MSRP came to $112,700 after destination. That's a little more than the V6-powered Mercedes SL 450, but after adding the bigger options, it's still under the base price for the V8-powered SL 550, and nearly $20,000 less than a Carrera Cabriolet. Not that the Porsche is a direct competitor.
Good As A Daily Driver
As you'd expect from a Lexus, the LC 500 Convertible's daily driving experience is top notch. When you're coasting along your commute or running to the shops, the V8 is tame with an understated rumble to its tone. Reminding you that there isn't some boring powerplant under the hood, Lexus engineered a sound pipe into the cabin, much like what was used in the legendary LFA. There's also no bullshit fake engine noise being pumped through the speakers. Give the throttle a stab, and the computer-controlled exhaust valves will open up to let that big V8 roar.
Steering is somewhat light in the normal mode, so I suggest setting up the custom drive mode to put the engine in eco and the chassis in sport mode to enjoy the driving experience around town while not chugging too much fuel. With average EPA fuel economy estimates of 15/25/18 (city/highway/combined), the LC will want to fill up with premium unleaded somewhat often.
Fine materials are incorporated into the cabin, and the Toasted Caramel leather inside my test model was a perfectly exquisite color against that deep red paint. Though it's a soft-top, Lexus went to great lengths to ensure the four-layer convertible keeps things quiet inside, while also concealing the top's hardware. You do give up some outward visibility, particularly in the passenger side blind spot, which does suck a little.
Look at that stitching.
An Exceptional Weekender
Once work is over, and you're ready for an excursion, flip open the cover that hides the LC convertible's top operation, and in 15 seconds the soft top will tuck away neatly. If inclement weather occurs, at speeds of up to 31 MPH, you can raise the top in just 16 seconds. No matter the climate conditions outside, the Lexus Climate Concierge--part of the optional Touring Package--is programmed to know if the top is up or down. Air conditioning adjusts perfectly, while heaters for your neck, seat, and steering wheel compensate for any outside differences.
Take the long, fun route, and you'll be rewarded with a grand tourer designed to carve back roads. Engineering a convertible cut away from a coupe usually means handling is compromised, but Lexus improved chassis rigidity by relocating and adding structural braces. There's also an optional performance damper included if you opt for the limited-slip differential. In Sport+ mode, the 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 roars to life, with quick response and torque that shoves across the rev range. Transmission shifts are a bit more tame than proper sports cars, so if you want more control, use the paddles.
In the corners, the two-ton convertible is suprisingly agile, with meaty 245/40/21 front and 275/35/21 rear Bridgestone Potenza 5001L tires sticking to the pavement nicely while the electric-assisted power steering makes your inputs simple. In daily driving, the Bridgestone are a little louder than you'd expect for a luxury car, but that is a fair trade for good grip on your favorite twisty farm-to-market road. Body roll is minimal, thanks to adaptive dampers that quickly adjust to any driving mood you happen to suddenly change into. The standard 20-inch wheels are nice, but the optional forged 21s give the LC 500 Convertible a bolder stance.
Suspension damping is spot-on, though a bit light, but Lexus gave the LC Convertible a nice balance, knowing its core drivers aren't enthusiasts like me. Featuring brakes usually spotted on supercars, with 15.7-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers up front, and 14.1-inch rotors and 4-piston calipers out back, and they have no trouble coping with the big convertible's weight when you need to dispose of speed before entering a bend.
The Highs And Lows
I love the look of the LC coupe, but the convertible looks fantastic. The spindle grille isn't so bad on the LC, but I still don't love it. Sharp lines that flow throughout the body are fantastic, and the overall proportions are great. Cabin appointments are top notch, and every piece feels expensive and well thought out. Well, except for the infotainment system, which still uses the Lexus trackpad and awful cursor setup. Yes, there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on-board, but the pad is awful. I wish a proper touchscreen would be part of the Lexus LC Convertible's interior.
Cockpit space up front is good for two adults, and the back "seats" are a great place to throw your laptop bag rather than subject humans to a strange folding experiment. The trunk in the LC coupe was already tiny, and the folding top eats up even more storage space, so don't go too crazy on your shopping spree. As I mentioned when I tested the LC 500 coupe, I'm stunned that Lexus didn't provide enough storage space for even one golf bag in the back.
If you're driving around with the top up, toss the plastic and mesh wind deflector in the trunk, as it obstructs rear-view visibility through the tiny glass window in the soft top. The exterior design was completed in an effort to reduce turbulence when you're enjoying the wind in your hair, so the deflector isn't truly needed.
So much sparkle in that paint.
A Damn Good Open-Top Grand Tourer
Lexus is known for exceptional quality and reliability, and in the form of the LC, the luxury manufacturer provides a great grand touring option. All-around, the LC 500 Convertible is a fantastic driving experience, the engine sounds awesome, and the cabin spoils you with comforts you'd expect from a Lexus. If the infotainment system wasn't a decade behind, this car would be one of the best cars for the money.
Taking a fun drive in the LC Convertible was more rewarding than anticipated, and I was surprised that a luxury convertible designed to please your golf-playing lawyer put a smile on the face of this performance-focused driver. Sorting out whether to buy the Lexus LC coupe I tested recently or this wonderful convertible is an easy choice. If you're going to drop $100,000 on a Lexus, get the LC 500 Convertible.