19 thoughts about the 2024 Lexus LC: 2 editors, 2 versions, 2,300 miles apart

The 2024 Lexus LC is home to the model’s biggest update since the Convertible launched a few years ago. It has a new infotainment system! Woohoo! On a less sarcastic note, it is kind of a big deal, because the outgoing system was arguably the car’s biggest flaw. Everything else? It’s not often that any automotive journalist edges toward using the word “perfect” for anything, but the LC 500 was about as close to high-performance grand touring perfection as it gets.

So of course Senior Editor James Riswick and I had to schedule loans of the freshened 2024 model to see if the updates made it any more perfect. The differences? James got to poke around with the fire-breathing V8 with the top down in an LC 500 Convertible in sunny California, while I made do with the LC 500h hybrid model in obligatory coupe form during spring in Michigan. Let’s see who had more fun. 

1. The hybrid powertrain was always and still is an oddball

While the regular LC 500 is fairly straightforward with its 5.0-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic, the 500h’s propulsion system is full-on alien spec. It’s called the Multistage Hybrid system, and it consists of a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6, two electric motors, a four-speed automatic transmission and a planetary-type CVT. Confusing, right?

2. But it works in practice

Working in concert, the two gearsets simulate the effect of shifting through a 10-speed transmission, just like the actual 10-speed transmission in the LC 500. Every now and then, you’ll physically feel the car shift through its four real gears with a traditional shifting sensation. In between those true shifts, the revs will slur up and down as you’d expect from a CVT simulating gear shifts. It’s one of the most bizarre shifting experiences I’ve ever felt, only made weirder by grabbing the shift paddles to do it yourself. Is the shifting fun? Not really. But on the plus side, Lexus tuned this wild setup to be silky smooth and refined in all types of driving.

3. It’s surprisingly quick

Off the line, I think the hybrid is quicker than the V8. The torque of those electric motors snap the car into action straight away, causing you to light up the rear tires (it’s RWD only) on accident rather easily. Soon as speeds exceed much more than 40-50 mph, the V8 is far and away more effective, but don’t think the hybrid is a slow poke by any means.

4. The hybrid needs a limited-slip differential badly

One-wheel-peel is the theme of driving the LC 500h. This car needed a limited-slip differential yesterday considering how much torque its electric motors put down. It’s a little pathetic at how ineffective it transfers all that power to the pavement. Your driving buddies will know you were enthusiastically pulling away from a light every time from the long, single, tire mark left on the ground.

5. Half the point of the LC is the sound, and you lose that with the hybrid

The 3.5-liter yawning up and down the rev range isn’t a particularly offensive sound in a vacuum, but it sure is lame knowing that you could be listening to one of the best exhaust notes on offer today from any car. Add some over-active augmented noise into the cabin and a ping-ponging CVT, and the noise gets old rather quickly.

6. But man the range is astounding

I got into the 500h at the start of my loan with a full tank, and the range readout said I had 705(!) miles of range. That’s because the hybrid has the same enormous 22.2-gallon fuel tank as the V8 that gets a pitiful 18 mpg combined compared to the hybrid’s 29 mpg combined. Even driving it hard, I could scarcely get the fuel economy much below the 26 mpg the hybrid is rated for in the city. Basically, you’ll need to stop to empty your bladder and eat (maybe even sleep) before you’ll need to stop and refuel on an LC 500h road trip.

7. And about the new infotainment system

The infotainment is the only thing that’s notably new for 2024, as Lexus replaced the far-away touchpad-controlled system with the company’s newest touchscreen and software you’ll find in all the latest Toyota and Lexus products. It changes up the dash design significantly, and while it’s not quite as pretty and perfect looking, the tech upgrade itself is worth the compromise. You’re still more than one touch away from activating the heated/cooled seats (I believe Riswick will hit that later), but for the most part, you’re no longer haplessly swiping through a dated user interface that was arguably one of the worst infotainment systems left in new cars. In short, the upgrade is most definitely an upgrade, but it’s still not perfect.

7. I’d buy the V8, and you should, too

One might assume the hybrid would be cheaper than the V8 because it’s less exciting and offers worse performance, but that would be wrong. The 500h is $3,300 more than the 500, and if that combined with all my other hybrid powertrain thoughts isn’t enough to convince you the V8’s the way to go, I’m sure James can finish the job.

9. What the hell? Why’d you get the pink one?

I know Lexus calls the hue slathered upon Zac’s LC 500h as “Copper Crest,” but dude, that sucker’s pink. And it’s fantastic. OK, so I’d probably prefer the shade of electric Flare Yellow my LC 500 Convertible first drive car was painted, but pink sure is preferable to the blah gray of my convertible this time around. I was a little sad when it showed up. 

10. And then I opened the door. Yowza!

How about this for an interior? The navy blue leather is gorgeous in appearance and to the touch, with some texture added to the door trim. The contrasting white leather is a beautiful complement, but boy is it going to look rough quickly if you don’t constantly maintain it. 

Of course, Zac had the same interior. Pink and blue. Double yowza.

11. Lexus will make you a Bespoke Build

If you peruse the Lexus configurator, you will not find this interior color combo among the options (it’s literally called “White and Blue Interior”). That’s because it’s a $1,900 addition to the $3,200 “Bespoke Build” package. Because Lexus figures you really want to drive home the point, there’s a plaque screwed into the center console. And apparently, that’s not all. According to Lexus, “The LC 500 Bespoke Build is further distinguished with a certificate of authenticity printed on Japanese washi paper and signed and stamped by LC Chief Engineer Yasushi Muto and Lexus Vice President of Marketing Vinay Shahani.” Your friends are going to be so impressed.

12. Nothing like pressing buttons covered by a flap

It took me awhile to find the roof-opening switch when I first had the LC 500 Convertible, but once found, it’s always fun to flick up the sturdy panel to find the roof-operation toggle and the all-windows up/down switch. It’s a little detail, but details count in a special car like the LC. 

13. There’s also nothing like structural integrity

Zac will probably be very disappointed in this (Ed. note: He is), but I did not drive around with the top down much. First, I’m not a fan of the sun. Second, there is an abundance of sun in California. Third, most of my driving was done on the many-hour slog to and from my house an hour west of Los Angeles to Palm Springs, which is more than two hours east of Los Angeles. The drive is long, ugly, traffic-filled and at no time was I inspired to lower the roof. It also rained a bit. 

Also, while I acknowledge that it’s fun to drop the top on occasion, this is absolutely a worse car than the coupe. In short, you can easily notice the reduction of structural integrity. There is cowl shake to be sure, and there’s just a general loss of crispness and, well, solidity that comes from replacing a bunch of welded metal with several layers of cloth. 

14. But I guess you can hear that exhaust better?

As mentioned earlier, the LC 500 has one of the most glorious exhaust notes you’ll find these days. That it comes out of a Lexus of all things makes it even more unexpected. I will say, however, that it’s tuned to only let’er rip when accelerating more aggressively, meaning you’re not drawing untoward attention to yourself in more mundane moments of driving. Flare with class. 

Now, I suppose dropping the top lets you listen to the exhaust even more, but it’s boisterous enough to be heard in the coupe, too. Windows lower for a reason. 

15. The seat temperature controls are profoundly stupid

Instead of buttons devoted to the heating and ventilation mechanisms of both front seats, you get this profound stupidity. 

Step 1: Press button on center console.
Step 2: Watch as seat temperature display comes up on touchscreen.
Step 3: Press the heating or ventilation “buttons” on screen of the respective seat you’re interested in heating or ventilating.
Step 4: Tap that “button” to select which of the three heating or ventilation settings you’re interested in having your butt subjected to.
Step 5: Although the menu occupies the entire damn screen, the button is teeny-tiny and quite far away, so good luck actually tapping it.
Step 6: If tapping is actually successful, try not to tap it too many times, because it’s sometimes not that reactive.

Cause all that’s so much better than a button.

16. The cupholders are a bit crap

For a while there, Toyota was all about putting single cupholders in separate locations. The 4Runner and last-generation RAV4 come to mind. Ditto the LC. One forward of the residual infotainment controls under a little flap, and is good for a coffee cup or skinny water bottle. The other one, which requires you to slide back the armrest to a detent, is shallow and a rectangle, so Fiji water fans are all set. 

17. Back seat? Hahahahahahahahaha!

The convertible’s back seat is even tighter and more upright than the Coupe’s. I guess my small dogs could make it work, but a carpeted parcel shelf option would be nice. Especially since I’d be loath to put grubby bag bottoms and wheels on that pretty white leather.

18. The Convertible and Hybrid have the same trunk

The Convertible’s folded roof and the Hybrid’s battery occupy the same space, therefore making an LC 500h Convertible impossible. It also means they have the same, smaller trunk as the LC 500 Coupe. You’ll find out just how much smaller in a couple weeks with my Luggage Test of the Convertible, but it’s enough that you’ll care. 

In total, given the Convertible’s lack of structural integrity and its useless back seat, the Hybrid’s weirdo powertrain and less dramatic nature, and the less useful trunk of both … I think it’s safe to say our common thought is:

19. Get the V8 Coupe

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