Lexus LC500 adds subtle handling tweaks for 2021
The LC500 is the handsome two-door flagship atop the Lexus lineup, launched first for the 2018 model year. While the luxury machine soldiers on for 2021 with the standard model’s delicious V-8 and the LC500h’s hybrid V-6 setup, Lexus made some adjustments to help the big, beautiful coupe handle better than ever.
The LC model leans more towards the grand touring end of the sports car spectrum, competing with with other high-dollar two-doors like the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche 911, and BMW 8 Series. Stiff competition on both luxury and performance fronts.
Lexus’ focus for this mid-cycle refresh is weight loss, with engineers shaving off 22 pounds of unsprung weight. (Components that are not supported by the springs of the car—think tires, wheels, brakes, and certain suspension components.) The LC already made extensive use of aluminum in the four-wheel independent suspension design, but the stabilizer bars were redesigned to be hollow, and the 21-inch rear wheels also went on a diet. After the diet, Lexus softened and smoothed out the stroke of the front suspension in an effort to improve the driver’s feeling of connection to the road, while also stiffening the rear stabilizers to “enhance front turn-in.”
In mid- to high-speed situations the LC now benefits from Active Cornering Assist, an automatic function managed by the stability control system that can brake the inner wheels to help improve cornering.
The 10-speed automatic transmission for the LC500 also gets revised shifts points to better utilize the 5.0-liter V-8’s 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque in the “active zone,” of 50–70 percent throttle where the car most often lives. That V-8 engine holds fast to its natural aspiration, helping the LC500 stand out in a market dominated by forced induction. The LC500h gets its own upgrades, including revised downshifting to select second instead of third gear in tight corners, making sure the power is there when you need it.
These small changes to driving performance demonstrate that Lexus still cares about the LC platform and maintaining its competitiveness in the market. (The 2021 model includes a new Rioja Red interior color scheme two new exterior paint options, and standard Android Auto.) In a time where even high-end luxury cars look alike and employ similar powertrain technology, the Lexus LC500 and LC500h are a breath of fresh style and (at least in the V-8’s case) endearing character.