Test Drive: 2018 Lexus LC 500 Coupe


No, I'm not going to buy it. At least not for at least 5-10 years, until it's fully depreciated. But I figured I should take one for a drive, just to try it out. As it happens, this red 2018 Lexus LC 500 with 18,000 miles is available at a local BMW dealership and thus simple to schedule for a test drive (this one was apparently traded in on a BMW M8). 

Why the LC 500? Well, it's almost certainly the last of its breed: a 2-door, Japanese luxury coupe, powered by a naturally-aspirated 5 liter V8. Those will never come again, thanks to the dominance of SUVs, turbochargers, and a future of plug-in electrics. And, as a Lexus, it should be (much) more reliable than its German competitors (BMW 8-series, Mercedes SL). 

I also think it's gorgeous and that the look will age well. It certainly has more personality and grace than current BMW or Mercedes designs and is more distinctive than the eternal Porsche 911. Unsurprisingly, the interior is also beautiful and luxe, with leather everywhere and tasteful design gracenotes (like the gorgeous interior door handles and the swooping design on the inside of the doors). Very Lexus. Yet the engine sounds snarly, brash, and eager. Very un-Lexus. 

As for downsides, it's big and heavy (4,300 pounds, almost twice my Miata). Gas mileage is not great (16/26 city/hwy, still a lot better than 8-cylinder engines of yore). And it's expensive to buy new ($100k+), and since the first model year was 2018, even the used ones are still pricey. This 2018 is listed at $78k with 18,000 miles on the odometer.  

So how did it drive? Well, I only had about a half hour in it, so I'm hesitant to draw any final conclusions. Quiet, comfortable, very luxe. Easy in surface street traffic, nicely composed on the freeway. The engine is responsive, entertaining, and shows its 471 horsepower. But you definitely feel the 4,000+ pounds that it's dragging around. Overall, the experience left me wanting to test drive a similarly priced 2015 Porsche 911. But that's a very different animal from the Lexus. 

As for amenities, the Mark Levinson stereo did not impress me as much as I'd hoped. Clear sounding, but lacking body and heft. 

But here's the real deal-breaker for me -- no Android Auto until the 2021 model year. No way I'm shelling out big money for a contemporary luxury cruiser and still have to rely on my phone for Google Maps. So I will check back in when those 2021 LC 500s bottom out in value, maybe in 7 years?


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