By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – With eyes closed there would be no way to tell that you were driving a Lexus.
That occurred to us as we drove a 2021 Lexus 500 Convertible from here to Toledo, Ohio. It was a 64-mile trip and it was long enough for us to get our mind around the character of this LC drop top.
Under the hood was a 5.0-liter V8 with an aluminum block, 32 valves and dual variable valve timing. This engine made 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.
It was mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a manual mode. Rear-wheel-drive, this LC 500 could get to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.6 seconds. Top sped was 168 mph.
The fuel rating was 15 miles mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg combined. We were able to do the 140-mile trip on less than one quarter a tank of gas; maximum fuel capacity was 21.7 gallons.
A colleague of ours remarked that the LC drove like a grand touring coupe, not a sport car We agree, because the LC 500 is a grand touring coupe, in this case roadster.
The reason we say that if you closed your eyes you could not tell that this car was a Lexus was the exhaust system. It was dual and had an active sport exhaust as Lexus has branded it.
The bottom line was that this exhaust system sent a growl though the car on start up. It let us know that there was no ordinary engine under the hood.
We rode on a double-joint MacPherson strut front suspension with two lower arms and a multi-link rear suspension with rear stabilizer bar. On an Interstate Highway it was like driving on a runway. The ride was smooth, level, and uneventful.
This LC 500 Convertible had 21-inch forged aluminum wheels. It was low to the ground, had that dominating Lexus spindle grille and it was wide. But we couldn’t just dream behind the wheel.
The car had go-kart reflexes. Just the slightest turn of the wheel sent the LC in that direction. There was no play in the steering. That meant we had to drive the car; it would not drive us.
And we did so in a luxurious package. The car had a 10.3-inch high resolution split infotainment screen that was covered by a plexiglass shield that curved from the instrument cowl to the passenger side door.
Of course, there were aluminum pedals, 10-way power front seats with two-way lumbar support, a three-year complimentary Dynamic Navigation (which took us right to the door of our destination) ambient lighting on the door panels, and aluminum scuff plates.
But more important than the equipment was the ambience of luxury. Yes, the 2021 LC 500 Convertible had all sorts of luxury equipment like what Lexus called climate concierge with upper body heating. That’s a heat vent at the base of the head rest for those who like top down driving in cooler weather.
As for the top, it retracted into its cubby hole behind the second-row seats and then was covered completely by the tonneau in 15 seconds. It took 16 seconds to open and either could be done at speeds up to 31 mph.
There was a separate trunk behind the tonneau. It would hold perhaps two normal sized roller bangs. Speaking of the second-row seats, the LC 500 Convertible was a 2+2. In other words, no way was anybody going to sit in the second row, those seats were for insurance companies, four seats have always been cheaper to insure than two.
On the drive we certainly used the premium audio system. It had 13 speakers and a 915-watt surround sound system engineered to adjust to a top up or top down situation.
Our test vehicle had the $5,290 Touring Package. It was comprised of a heated leather trimmed steering wheel, semi-aniline leather trimmed front seats, climate concierge with upper body heating (think neck warmer) the premium audio system and embossed headrests.
The Lexus LC 500 Convertible was a driving experience from its flush door handles with illumination when opened, to its compact triple projector LED headlamps, its Wi-Fi platform, and its complimentary assortment of subscriptions, Internet connections and service connections.
As tested, the sticker was $111,920. The 2021 Lexus LC 500 was the kind of car that once you get in it, it is difficult to stop driving.