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2021 Lexus LC 500h review: Electrified grand touring

No other car is like the Lexus LC. This rear-drive coupe exemplifies Lexus in every sense, only now it’s wrapped in an exciting package. We’ve got our hands on the 2021 Lexus LC 500h to see if the complex hybrid powertrain changes the car’s character.

For 2021, Lexus revised the LC’s suspension to reduce unsprung weight by 22 pounds, increased the rear stabilizers’ rigidity, and added a brake-based torque vectoring function called Active Cornering Assist. The shift timing on the LC 500h’s transmission has also been reworked for better rolling acceleration.

2021 Lexus LC 500h exterior

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

If you’re looking for concept carlike looks, the 2021 Lexus LC 500h should be on your list. It’s essentially the LF-LC Concept unchanged. From the sweeping side profile to the angular front fascia, there’s no mistaking this for anything else. Even the rear end and its three-dimensional taillights add to its futuristic yet timeless appearance.

2021 Lexus LC 500h interior

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Lexus vehicles are well-known for their impeccable fit and finish and the 2021 LC is no different. Everything you touch feels a class above while the controls operate with a level of tactility that’s so satisfying you want to keep using them. When taken as a whole, the cabin’s build quality and level of sophistication make the car feel more expensive than the $109,910 as-tested price suggests. The only real quibble is the excessive tire noise entering the cabin, which is likely due to the optional 21-inch wheels and summer tires on our test car.

Treat the Lexus LC 500h as a 2+2 instead of a full-fledged four-seater. The front sport seats are supremely comfortable yet supportive during enthusiastic driving. Thanks to the generous steering wheel and seat adjustments, it’s easy to get the perfect driving position. If you’re tall, however, your head will brush the headliner.

The rear seats are best used as an extension of the tiny 4.7-cubic-foot trunk because even children are cramped back there. The LC doesn’t have split-folding rear seats due to powertrain components taking up space between the trunk and passenger cabin. Small-item storage is also limited because the center console is the only place that can accommodate mobile devices and it also houses the second cupholder.

2021 Lexus LC 500h tech features

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The 2021 LC 500h retains the old touchpad-based user interface. Unfortunately, it’s still finicky to use because of the touchpad’s inconsistent sensitivity levels. Even when using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you’re forced to scroll through layers of submenus just to get to what you need. Certain functions like the heated and ventilated front seats and dual-zone climate control are also split from the physical controls. At least the main 10.3-inch display has crisp graphics and there are shortcut buttons to get you back to the Home screen when you’ve dug down too far and can’t find your way back. The 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system is crisp and easy to customize, allowing you to further personalize the listening experience.

All LC models get Lexus Safety System 2.0 driver assistance suite standard. While it works subtly and doesn’t get annoying, it’s not as proactive as other brands’ active safety features. Lane-keeping assist doesn’t actively keep you from drifting around and sometimes reacts late. Adaptive cruise control is also slow to respond to traffic flow, meaning it waits a few seconds before moving once the vehicle ahead drives away. It also slows down early when it detects a backup ahead.

2021 Lexus LC 500h driving impressions

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Quite possibly the highlight of the Lexus LC 500h’s driving experience is its impeccable ride and handling balance. The car rides comfortably yet it’s sharp and confident. On twisty roads, the LC 500h comes alive as its adaptive variable suspension stiffens up in its sportiest setting. That allows this 4,420-pound electrified coupe to slice through corners gracefully, shrinking around you like a smaller, lighter vehicle. Quick, communicative, and accurate steering lets you know exactly what the front wheels are doing, adding to the LC’s nimble character.

The Dynamic Handling package, which includes a limited-slip differential, rear-wheel steering, and sticky summer performance tires, enables the car to put the power down effectively. As a result, this option is mandatory, especially if you want to get the most out of your weekend drives. All of that extra grip doesn’t cause the LC 500h to lose its playful character because it still rotates willingly through corners. Even with the adaptive variable suspension in its sportiest setting and the optional 21-inch alloy wheels, the LC remains supremely comfortable. You get lots of feel without the bone-crushing ride.

Powering the 2021 Lexus LC 500h is a peculiar hybrid powertrain. It couples a 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors including one driving the wheels, a lithium-ion battery, a planetary gear set, and a four-speed automatic gearbox. Got that? Good. Together, the two transmissions emulate 10 speeds. Based on our time with the LC 500h, only the 3-4, 6-7, and 9-10 shifts appear to use the four-speed.

All told, the LC 500h test car has 354 hp combined. While that’s down 117 hp from its V8 sibling, you won’t notice it unless you had testing equipment. Between the electric drive motor’s instant torque and the V6’s linearity, you have plenty of power under your right foot, especially in Sport S+ mode. The update made to the planetary gear set and four-speed automatic setup prevents it from hunting during enthusiastic driving, smoothening its operation. You’ll get an occasional jerky “shift” at low speeds or from a stop but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

2021 Lexus LC 500h pricing

The base 2021 Lexus LC 500h starts at $98,535 and comes generously equipped with features like LED headlights, adaptive variable suspension, and heated and ventilated front seats. Our test car, which came with a head-up display, a 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system, the Dynamic Handling Package, the extra-cost Cadmium Orange exterior color, and a couple of dealer-installed accessories costs $109,910.

2021 Lexus LC 500h final verdict

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Lexus created a true flagship coupe with the 2021 LC. The hybrid variant possesses a rare blend of comfort, agility, finesse, quality, character, and efficiency, perfect for eating up endless highway miles or carving up your favorite mountain road. Four years in, the 2021 Lexus LC 500h has aged gracefully and meaningful mechanical updates have made it a stronger, more compelling option in the age of electrification. You get style and substance wrapped in one of the most beautiful modern vehicles sold today.

At a glance

  • Year: 2021
  • Make: Lexus
  • Model: LC 500h
  • Type: 2-door coupe
  • Combined horsepower: 354
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 26/34/29
  • Pros: Class-above build quality, timeless design, impeccable ride and handling
  • Cons: Lots of tire noise, finicky touch pad UI controls, not much small-item storage
  • Base price: $98,535
  • Price as tested: $109,910
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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