1996 Lexus SC 400

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1996 Lexus SC 400
Available in 1 styles:  SC 400 2dr Coupe shown
Asking Price Range
$2,568–$11,876
Estimated MPG

18 city / 23 hwy

Expert Reviews

1996 Lexus SC 400 5.0 2
$ 2,568-11,876
May 11, 1996

OK, I admit it.

This job can be a lot of fun when you have an automobile as fine as the Lexus SC-400 to tool around in for a week or so.

But then, you probably surmised that.

At an as-tested price of $58,618, this ultimate driveway accessory is not exactly cheap. But it's less expensive than therapy -- something you probably wouldn't be needing after getting behind the wheel.

This beautifully sculpted coupe de grace was originally shaped using plaster and balloons. It's elegant yet strong, and looks particularly menacing in black.

The menace continues under the hood. The "entry-level" coupe, the SC-300, comes with a plenty powerful 3.0-liter six that pumps out 225 hp at 6,000 rpm and 210 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. For the live-fast, love-hard, die-young crowd, the SC-400, the model tested here, comes with an over-the-top 4.0-liter, four-cam, 32-valve V-8. This rather healthy power plant provides 260 hp at 5,300 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm. With the V-8, 60 mph comes up in 6.8 seconds (versus 7.3 for the six), and top speed is 149.

So, no matter what the numbers on the trunk lid say, you'll be going somewhere fast.

Automatic transmissions come with either model; a five-speed manual is available only with the six. Press the pedal, and faster than you can say, "Yessir," the scenery starts to blur.

The suspension handles all this power with equal finesse. It's independent double wishbone, with gas shocks at each corner. Tires are 16-inch V-rated on the SC-400 and a full-size spare is included. The power steering is speed-sensitive, adjusting the power assist to how the car is moving. The result is sporty, precise handling but wrapped with an insulated feel. It's sportier than the sedan and very luxurious.

The four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are huge and stop the car quickly.

Being that Lexus sprang from the fertile minds of Toyota, engineers have tried to address aparticularly aggravating aspect of living with a coupe: opening the door wide enough. The hinges on the doors of the SC-400 ar double-jointed, swinging the door out on both ends, making it easier to enter.

Once nestled in the comfortably firm buttery-soft leather seats, the steering wheel tilts and telescopes toward you automatically. (You didn't actually expect it to just sit there, did you?) The gauges light up with an effect unequaled in other cars. Matte-finish maple -- not the increasingly common gloss -- accents the cabin.

The pampering continues with all the comfort and convenience features you'd expect. Nestled in this quiet cocoon, the optional 12-CD 280-watt Nakamichi sound system (complete with 10-inch subwoofer) will keep you entertained for hours. (It's better than the sound systems of most homes I've been in.) The cabin is beautifully assembled, but the rear seat is best left as an upholstered package shelf, better to augment the small (9.3 cubic feet) trunk.

But practicality isn't what coupe life is about. It's about looking good and loving every minute of it.

What price sanity? With Lexus, it starts at $52,400.

1996 LEXUS SC400 Standard: 4.0-liter 4-cam, 32-valve V-8, four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission; speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering; gas shock absorbers; four-wheel power assisted anti-lock disc brakes; 225/55R16 V-rated tires; alloy wheels; dual airbags; dual remote electrochromatic mirrors with defoggers; electrochromatic rear-view mirror; intermittent wipers; automatic on/off headlights; theft deterrent system; maple trim; remote entry; power windows with auto down; power locks; retained power; power tilt telescoping steering wheel; power seats with memory; leather trim; automatic climate control; Lexus AM-FM cassette 170-watt audio system. Optional: Color-keyed rear spoiler; one-touch power moonroof; traction control with heated front seats; ll-season tires; Nakamichi 280-watt premium sound system; remote trunk-mounted 12-CD changer; wheel locks; carpeted floor mats; carpeted trunk mat. Base price: $52,400 As tested: $58,618 EPA rating: 18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway Test mileage: 17.9 mpg Entry-level Lexus SC-300 has buttery-soft leather seats, the steering wheel tilts and telescopes toward the driver automatically, and the four-wheel anti-lock brakes stop the car on a dime.


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