This week I’m bringing you something extra special. The first-ever Lexus LC 500 Convertible. And I have to tell you my jaw is still on the floor after my week behind the wheel of this stunning vehicle. It’s the first drop-top for the flagship LC500 and it’s not just a head-turner that gets looks everywhere you go, it’s a pulse-pounding exhilarating rocket to ride!
With its low center of gravity, the 2021 LC 500 Convertible is a car that just makes you feel off the charts amazing. Top up or top down. Of course you’ll want the top down a lot -- it is after all why you buy a convertible!
My hats off to Lexus for the incredible design and driving characteristics of this show stopper. Convertibles can be tricky. It’s not as simple as slapping a soft-top on top of an existing vehicle. Convertibles have different challenges when it comes to dealing with wind/cabin noise plus changing the top can also impact weight. In this case the convertible is slightly heavier than the coupe model.
My test model is a prototype in Liquid Platinum with a black soft top, with a Circuit Red Leather with Satin Metallic trim cabin.
The exterior of the LC 500 Convertible is stunning. Smooth, sleek body lines look fantastic from every angle. Sharp creases on the hood flow down into the front end that showcases a large Lexus grill flanked by arrowhead daytime running lights and triple-projector LED headlights. The body-colored door handles are flush with the doors. It rides on optional 20-inch 10-spoke forged alloy wheels with Dark Graphite Finish ($1,210).
In the back, you'll see a strong tail end -- with a slightly lifted profile. There are LED tail lights and unlike on the coupe, the center brake light is integrated into the trunk lid and a spoiler emphasizes its low wide stance, as do chrome exhausts on each side.
The soft-top is four layers, three of them fabric with then a fourth layer of sound-absorbing material. It’s easy to operate from controls on the center console. and might I add QUICK! The hydraulic system is designed to open and close the top in an elegant, seamless motion. It can be opened in 15 seconds (for me it was slightly less than that), and takes approximately 16 seconds to close. An innovative folding mechanism includes a tonneau cover for when it is stored. You can open and close it up to speeds of 31 miles an hour. Lexus says three times the number of typical durability tests were conducted to ensure reliability and quietness of operation. A flip of a switch also closes the windows after the top goes up. You can also see a cool animation of the top’s progress on the driver’s digital display.
Ride and Drive
The front-engine drop-top roars to life when you press the push-button start. You immediately hear the growl of its 471-horsepower naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine in its Active Sport Exhaust. (Lexus makes special note of the fact this is not electronically enhanced sound, it’s the real deal and sounds it.) The rear-wheel powertrain also delivers 398 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a 10-speed automatic the smooth and quick shifting is sublime! The paddle shifters are where the real fun is - and acceleration is fantastic. Lexus quotes a 0 to 60 time of 4.6 seconds.
Drive modes include Sport and Sport+. While the convertible delivers a performance-oriented ride in terms of power, this is not a tight cornering track vehicle so steering, while adequately sporty, remains on the looser side.
Ride comfort is excellent with great, tweaked, adaptive variable suspension that handles bumps in the road with no sweat. Lexus says tweaks to the suspension accommodate the subtle weight differences between the convertible versus the coupe.
The LC 500 has a curb weight of 4,540 lb. Does that make it super fuel efficient? No. You get 18 mpg combined. But fuel efficiency is the last thing on your mind when you’re behind the wheel.
I was really impressed with how quiet the LC 500 Convertible’s cabin is, too. The unique shape of the beltline and rear molding is designed to reduce wind noise. Active Noise Control (ANC) combines sound insulation and absorption techniques to help suppress unwanted harshness from entering the cabin. A wind deflector helps keep unwanted air from entering the cabin during low-speed travel, such as driving in the city. A standard windscreen is designed for higher-speed travel like on the freeway.
The sporty cabin is everything you expect from Lexus with quality materials, an attention to detail, a great fit and finish as well as great design. The Circuit Red Leather with Satin Silver trim, requires a $5,290 Touring package ($5,290.) features door panels with a patterned “drape-like” design. It adds the Climate Concierge with Upper Body Heating, a 13-speaker Mark Levenson surround audio system, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, windshield de-icer and embossed headrests.
My test model’s leather-bolstered semi-aniline leather 10-way power driver seat proved itself to be just the right balance between comfort and support and is one of my favorite’s in a Lexus vehicle.
Standard features include a 3-spoke steering wheel and 8-inch TFT instrument cluster which is easy to scroll through using the steering wheel mounted controls. The center console houses a leather-wrapped gear shifter, multimedia controls and touchpad along with Auto Brake Hold.
The optional 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system with rear-mounted speakers is also fine-tuned for the convertible so that the EQ adjusts based on the driving environment whether the top is open or closed.
No surprise, the rear seat is tight on room and there’s not much in the way of cargo space. Both though come with the territory.
Lexus Climate Concierge
Climate plays a big role when it comes to a convertible. The LC 500 Convertible is designed with a climate system that adjusts the temperature whether the top is raised or lowered. The Lexus Climate Concierge with Upper Body Heating automatically manages the air conditioner, seat heaters, neck heaters and steering-wheel heater to ensure the cabin is comfortable. It can also send warm or cold air to the back of the driver’s hands when gripping the steering wheel.
The interior features a 10.3-inch split multimedia screen with backup camera. It’s not Lexus’ newly introduced touchscreen. You operate it with a touchpad, steering mounted controls and center console controls, which I found easy to do. The system supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa Compatibility. Voice recognition and navigation are fantastic. You can add an optional head-up display for $900.
Driver assistance systems are terrific in the LC 500 convertible. I love that, like the LC 500 coupe, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic is standard. The new 2021 LC Convertible also features Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Intelligent High Beams.
There are other convertible specific safety features such as active roll bars designed to deploy upward if a rollover is detected.
What You’ll Pay
The base LC 500 convertible starts from $101,000. This is a prototype without an official price tag, but I’d calculate this vehicle at over the $108,000 mark with options.
2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible
- What I liked most: Stunning looks, fantastic acceleration.
- What I would change: Add Brembo’s.
- MSRP: Base $101,000, MSRP on prototype not provided.
- Fuel Economy: 15 city/25 highway/ 18 combined.
- Fuel Tank: 21.7 gallons.
- Dimensions: 187.4” long/ 75.6” wide/53.2” high.
- Weight: 4,540 lbs.
- Trailer Towing: N/A.
- Miles When Tested: 820 miles.
- Official Color: Liquid Platinum
- Spare tire: Run-flat tires.
- Final Assembly Point: Aichi, Japan
- 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible in a few words: A gorgeous drop-top that delivers an exhilarating ride in luxurious confines that you’ll never want to leave.
- Warranty: Four-year/50,000-mile Lexus Limited Warranty. Six-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Warranty. Six-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation Warranty.
- Manufacturers website: Lexus