Glamour has long faded from American life, awash in a world of distressed jeans and overpriced t-shirts, we would rather dress like the hired help and drive their vehicles than reimagine ourselves as something more than that.
It seems as if the vehicle world has gone vertical, as buyers predominantly prefer driving station wagons modestly disguised and marketed as SUVs. No longer wishing to drive something sleek and sexy, we choose to motor around in something with all the glamour of a garden shed, albeit with piano black trim and riding on 22-inch rims. Seriously?
Thankfully, the Lexus LC 500 Convertible manages to retain the ability to elevate every drive into an occasion, possessing an incredible dose of style, a powerfully smooth driveline and enough to tech to keep you connected.
There are some changes to the LC 500 Convertible as it reaches 3 years old. Lexus revised its suspension tuning to give it a more responsive feel. But otherwise, it remains what it always has been: a two-seat grand touring rear-wheel-drive droptop that retains its position at the top of the Lexus line-up. Unlike its coupe sibling, which is offered with V-8 or gas-electric hybrid power, the Convertible comes solely with the V-8. And it’s a good thing; it’s a far more suitable driveline for this car. (For the record, the hybrid offered in the LC 500 Coupe is far less entertaining, with noticeably less power and a gearbox that attempts to cover up the fact that it’s a CVT.)
Looking larger than it truly is, the Lexus LC 500 Convertible is long, lithe and distinctive. It’s truly the spiritual successor to the original, equally distinctive Lexus SC, rather than the unremarkable, stubby second-generation SC hardtop coupe. It possesses a distinctly Japanese kinetic, knife-edged sensuality that tests your sense of magnificence even as it entrances it.
You’ll need lots of space to swing the doors open, which begs a question. The first Lexus SC had articulating hinges, that moved forward as well as out. Why aren’t they employed here? They make opening doors in tight spots far easier and are another sign of Toyota engineering excellence — once its hallmark — passed over in the name of profit.
Nevertheless, as good as the Convertible looks with the top down, it looks every bit as good with it up — a crucial test that too many convertibles often fail. And it’s well insulated, so most noise is kept at bay. It also creates mammoth blind spots, so change lanes with care. Then again, never putting the top up solves this problem. Remarkably, the LC 500 Convertible’s Coefficient of Drag is 0.33 (with the top up), and nearly as good with the top down, at 0.34.
This is a very accommodating interior for two. Yes, there is a back seat in the LC, but it’s more of a padded parcel shelf meant to supplement the miniscule 3.4 cubic foot trunk as there’s no legroom. None. But this is built for fashion, not functionality. So it makes some accommodations for beverages and your electronic gadgets. But it’s more concerned with comfortably supportive seating, exquisitely finished leather and enough space to keep you comfy. However, it would be nice to have less road and tire noise with the roof shut; this is a Lexus after all.
All LCs are built using Lexus’s GA-L (global architecture — luxury) platform, a front-engine, rear-wheel drive affair with a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 stuffed under its snout and mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel that allow for manual shifting, should you feel the need. And as previously mentioned, unlike the Coupe, no hybrid driveline is offered.
It’s rated at 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and will reach 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, according to Lexus. The EPA rates the LC 500 Convertible at 15 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
It’s aided by a MacPherson strut front suspension with two lower arms; and multi-link rear suspension with rear stabilizer bar and adaptive dampers at each corner. Although it uses the LS Sedan’s suspension, its design differs because it doesn’t have to deal with rear seat occupants.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible.
The Lexus Safety System+ comes standard with a host of driver assistance safety systems, including a Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with lane-keep assist, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and intelligent high beams. Also, the Convertible is fitted with active roll bars that deploy upward in the event of a rollover, but otherwise remain tucked out of sight.
Accessing the LC’s infotainment system is done through a finicky, touchy touchpad that controls the high-resolution 10.3-inch screen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and a host of Lexus Enform apps. There’re also two USB ports, a 12-volt outlet and an optional $1,220 13-speaker, 915-watt Mark Levinson audio system. But that last item proved disappointing, as it lacks the mid-range punch expected.
Certainly the electronic interface needs a rethought, as it lacks the ease and elegance of the newest system being used by Lexus on the far less expensive NX SUV. It’s not a deal breaker; many European luxury cars have fussy, unpleasant user interfaces. So in that, the Lexus is no different.
More the grand tourer than a true sports car, the 2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible still provides an ample amount of driving fun. Fire it up and its throaty exhaust announces its intent. Throwing it into a corner brings out its low center of gravity and composure as you put it through its paces. The steering is nicely weighted and returns some road feel. And it’s rear-wheel drive, which makes it a hoot to drive. It’s not worried about inclement weather, so why should you be?
But the suspension changes have firmed up the ride a bit too much for this vehicle’s station. Sports car fans won’t mind, but those used to a more traditional Lexus ride might. The flip side is a more responsive chariot. Still one gets the feeling the performance most buyers will care about revolves around lowering the top. It takes 15 seconds and can be done at speeds up to 31 mph. Putting it up takes 16.
2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Specifications
|Dimension||L: 187.4 inches/W: 75.6 inches/H: 53.2 inches/Wheelbase: 113 inches|
|Powertrain||5.0-liter V-8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||15 mpg city/25 mpg highway/18 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base prices: $101,100; As tested: $106,045 including $1,075 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible is a grand statement, Auntie Mame rendered in steel and leather. It laughs at practicality, indulging your need for speed and affording you the chance to commune with nature rather than tromping over it in an overweight box. It’s a striking bit of sculpture in a time when the bland conformity of buying practical, bleak boxes have become a substitute for true automotive statements.
2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible — Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Lexus LC 500 made?
It’s produced in Toyota’s high-tech plant in Motomachi, Japan that manufactured the Lexus LFA.
How fast is a Lexus LC 500?
The 4,540 pound LC 500 Convertible runs 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, according to Lexus.
What does Lexus LC stand for?
LC stands for Luxury Coupe.