Fall is perhaps the best season to drop the top in Upstate, NY. The changing seasons bring cooler air, changing foliage, and longer sun angles. It’s an environment that improves almost any drive. And what better convertible to experience the start the fall than the all-new 2021 Lexus LC500 Convertible. Adapted from arguably the best looking production car on the market, the LC Convertible offers drop top living with a unfettered V8 soundtrack. We planned an extra long drive to Western Massachusetts to evaluate life with Lexus’ flagship convertible.
Removing the fixed roof hasn’t negatively impacted the stiffness of the LC’s chassis, comparing the Convertible to our review of the LC500 Coupe a few years ago. Additional chassis and strut tower bracing help make up for the change. Lexus also extensively retuned the suspension to compensate for the shift in weight distribution. Beyond the expected dampers and coils adjustments, the bushings and other components have been replaced and Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension has been tuned specifically for the Convertible. While that might be interesting for the technical minded, there’s almost no time to stop and appreciate those subtle changes when the top retracts in only 15 seconds. With the roof automatically stored neatly beneath the rear deck, Lexus’ 5.0L V8 takes a predominate role in the driving experience. Unchanged from the Coupe, it makes 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 0-60 mph run in only 4.6 seconds. While the acceleration is ample, the symphony that erupts at 3,500 rpm is what keeps you coming back. Under throttle, a combination of induction and exhaust noise is accented by pops and bangs as the 10-speed automatic changes gears. If the autumn scenery wasn’t incentive enough to lower the roof, the naturally aspirated V8 demands it. If you’re an audiophile, however, the LC’s Mark Levinson audio system will let you down. Despite being tuned for open-top audio, the system just doesn’t have the power or clarity fitting of this luxury flagship.
The big two-door is an exceedingly adept GT car. For passengers, the sumptuous cabin is comfortable and windless with the side windows raised. For the driver, the Lexus is poised and composed. Left to its own devices, the Lexus keeps itself quiet. There’s some additional engineering at work here as well. Lexus uses sound insulating and absorbing materials and has fitted a polycarbonate wind deflector to help make conversation between passengers easy. Dial the car into Sport or further into Sport+ and the throttle sensitivity and transmission comes alive. The 10-speed auto never seems to be the wrong gear, making the metallic shift paddles almost entirely optional. The suspension remains compliant, never feeling too stiff, despite the occasional bump transmitted by the oversized 20″ wheels.
The incredible design, excellent drivability, and high class interior certainly make the 2018 Lexus LC500 worthy of all the attention it receives.
Two hours into the drive and there’s simply no need to stop. The seats and driving position are exceedingly comfortable. Surprisingly, so is the climate. Lexus’ Climate Concierge manages the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heater, and steering wheel heater to keep open top driving comfortable. How about warm air for your neck and hands as you drive into the shade of a river valley? Perhaps its a bit warm in the sun as you traverse a mountain pass. The set-it-and-forget it feature works perfectly, meaning we barely needed to touch the HVAC controls all afternoon. We consider that a big benefit, especially with how difficult the Lexus infotainment system is to use and navigate. When the air finally gets too crisp for comfort, the roof can be closed at speeds up to 31mph. Once secured, the four-layer soft top helps keep the elements and unwanted noise out.
Stunning good looks turned heads almost everywhere we went. The LC500 looks unlike any other vehicle on the road and our tester drew extra attention in its Infrared hue. Not only has removing the top not hampered the LC, it has improved it. Inside, Lexus’ attention to detail really elevate the experience. The different materials, textures, and subtle two-tone cabin are flagship worthy. And after a week, the list of disappointments is small; the expectedly poor infotainment and unexpectedly poor audio system. But Lexus has given LC owners solutions for both problems. Set the Climate Concierge and rev out that V8, because with the top down on the right road, there isn’t a care in the world behind the Lexus LC500 Convertible.
|2021 Lexus LC500 Convertible||$101,000|
|20″ staggered-width 10-spoke forged alloy wheels||$1,210|
|As Tested Price||$109,120|