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2024 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Review: The Last Truly Luxe Lexus?

lexus lc 500 convertible 2024 01 exterior dynamic front angle scaled jpg 2024 Lexus LC 500 Convertible | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry
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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

The verdict: Striking style, glorious V-8 power and noise, and a meticulously crafted interior make the Lexus LC 500 convertible feel like a Japanese Aston Martin.

Versus the competition: Easily more distinctive than most of its competitors, the Lexus LC 500 provides a smoother, more luxurious experience than many British or German luxury grand tourers, with reliability expected to outperform just about anyone, regardless of price.

A grand tourer is meant to be a special vehicle, but it can be a little hard to define. Take the 2024 Lexus LC 500: Despite its powerful V-8 engine, electronically adjustable suspension, 2+2 cabin and incredibly swoopy concept-car styling, it’s not a sports car. Like many other expensive luxury two-doors, it’s a grand tourer — a vehicle that can still deliver stunning speed, rewarding handling and plenty of fun on twisty roads, but which aims to do so while coddling its occupants in a quiet cabin awash with luxurious materials. An old Jaguar advertising tagline is perfect for describing the LC 500’s role: “grace, space and pace.”

The LC 500 packs all three of these descriptors in one head-turning package, and it’s been doing so for seven model years. For 2024, it sees one notable change: The old, absolutely horrible touchpad-based multimedia system is binned in exchange for a proper touchscreen system. With the exception of some new color combinations and a limited-run Inspiration Series version, the rest of the car has been left alone — and that’s a very, very good thing.

Related: A Better Mousetrap: 2024 Lexus LC 500 Gets New Infotainment System, Starts at $98,850

Not Traditionally Beautiful, But Certainly Striking

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Looks are subjective, but one thing everyone can absolutely agree on is that the LC 500’s styling is striking. It looks like nothing else on the road today, full of little elements and flourishes that immediately set it apart from its contemporaries. It is perhaps the best expression of the Lexus “spindle grille” design aesthetic the brand has yet produced, and it’s also perhaps the only example in the entire Lexus lineup where it fits with the rest of the car. It’s a stunning design that looks just as fresh now as it did when it was first introduced. The coupe is arguably the better looking of the two body styles, as the convertible’s soft top interrupts the flowing roofline with an awkward upswept chop just behind the doors; it’s especially apparent when the top is down. There are no such issues with the coupe’s styling. That said, my test vehicle was the convertible, and I didn’t mind in the slightest.

That rakish windshield and low top mean headroom inside is tight, but the headliner is soft and stretchy, so despite my head being hard up into it, I didn’t mind at all. When the top is down (which is how this car is meant to be driven), it isn’t an issue. One nice surprise is that the top doesn’t eat into trunk space at all, which can’t be said of competitors like the latest Mercedes-AMG SL. There’s not a huge amount of trunk space to begin with, but it’s easily adequate for a weekend getaway for two (if you pack soft-sided duffle bags) or for one full-size set of golf clubs. 

Let’s talk about that paint on my test car. It’s called Copper Crest, and it’s a metallic, pearlescent copper/rose-gold hue that is absolutely stunning, especially in direct sunlight. It’s available with Lexus’ Bespoke Build option, which is new this year on the convertible. It allows customers to mix and match paint colors, interior hues, top colors, wheels and styling add-ons to create their own LC 500. On my test convertible, Lexus combined that Copper Crest metallic paint with a new white-and-blue leather interior, and while the combination might not be what I’d have chosen (that’d be a Nori Green exterior with a Toasted Caramel interior), it is definitely a head-turner. I took the LC 500 to my local Cars & Coffee, and it was a hit largely because most people in Michigan haven’t ever seen an LC 500 before despite it being on the market for the better part of a decade. 

The Best Interior in the Lexus Showroom

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It would have been easy to give the LC 500 a boring interior given how much styling effort was granted to the body, but that’s not what Lexus did. The LC 500’s interior is quite possibly the best one Lexus offers right now in terms of quality, design, usability and sheer luxury feel. It’s opulent, it’s beautiful, and it feels solid and immaculately constructed. It’s also incredibly comfortable, with seats that are large, supportive and highly adjustable — at least up front. The rear seats are only suitable for children or emergency situations; they’re not properly sized for adult humans. Leather quality is excellent, the controls and buttons all feel expensive, and unlike a lot of new Lexus interiors, it doesn’t feel built to a price point. None of the knobs wobble (like I noticed in the latest Lexus GX I drove a month ago), and the shifter didn’t feel loose in my hand. It’s a proper luxury interior that befits the car’s price and positioning. It’s reminiscent of Lexus models of 20-30 years ago, when innovation, solidity and an absolute relentless attention to quality were the priority — before Lexus became just another luxury brand. I miss that Lexus, and the LC 500 takes me back there.

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Besides the new white-and-blue interior, the other big change for 2024 is the addition of the automaker’s Lexus Interface, which brings a 12.3-inch touchscreen to the party. A mildly reskinned version of the new Toyota Multimedia System, it’s the same multimedia system found in all other new Lexuses, and it’s hard to overstate how big an improvement it is over the car’s old system. Using the old system was akin to trying to use a laptop trackpad while barreling down an interstate highway; the new one works just like any other touchscreen setup, although our complaints about the system in other Lexus and Toyota vehicles carry over here: There’s no home screen with card-style icons, which is unfortunate, and there’s a lot of wasted screen space with this software. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, however, and they do help mitigate our disappointment. Regardless of the system’s flaws, it means Lexus has done away with the one feature that used to make me feel like I couldn’t recommend this car to buyers, so kudos to the brand there.

That Glorious (but Disappearing) Sound

The best part of any convertible is hearing the soundtrack the vehicle’s engine makes. This is unlikely to be a factor for much longer in our age of encroaching electrification, but as of now, a few high-end cars still offer V-8 engines, including this one. The LC 500’s standard powertrain is a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 that makes a stout 471 horsepower and 398 pounds-feet of torque. That might not sound like much in an era where supercharged V-8s make in excess of 800 hp, but raw power isn’t the point here — refined power is. Lexus’ 5.0-liter V-8 (which can now be found only under the hood of the LC, the IS 500 sedan and the RC F coupe) is a glorious engine, producing a surge of power when called on but idling as smooth as glass when you just want to cruise around town. The bellow out the tailpipes when this engine is called upon is becoming increasingly rare as V-6 hybrids replace V-8 engines; it’s a bit of an anachronistic throwback, but it fits the aesthetic of this expensive grand-touring convertible perfectly. 

The LC’s power is routed to the rear wheels through a dreamy-smooth 10-speed automatic transmission, with a limited-slip differential available for drivers who want to get a bit more frisky in their LC. Acceleration can be calm, quick or fierce, depending on the mode in which you’re driving the LC 500; several are available, ranging from Comfort to Sport S+ for the truly ambitious. Steering feel is decent but not sports-car communicative, which is fine because this isn’t meant to be a canyon carver — it’s a boulevard tourer. It’s just that sometimes, you have to drive through a canyon to get to the boulevard, and you might enjoy flogging this car a bit through some twisties before cruising the beachfront. 

Ride quality is excellent regardless of setting, reaffirming that no, this isn’t a sports car because there isn’t a “stiff” setting. Even in the LC’s sportiest setting, it’s still supple and well damped despite the aggressively thin all-season tires wrapping its 21-inch wheels. This Lexus doesn’t dance like a BMW 8 Series might — but you can spec an M8 for true sports-car performance in a big-coupe package. The Lexus has no LC F variant and isn’t likely to get one (that’s not its mission); this car knows its role well. It’s not equipped with all manner of silly track modes because there’s no pretending you’re going to take your grand tourer to a racetrack. The LC 500 is designed to be a street tourer, and that’s exactly what it delivers. 

As such, the brakes are big and firm. Repeated hard stops don’t elicit any fade … but considering the LC 500’s mission, there’s no reason to make repeated hard stops. A carbon-ceramic braking system isn’t an option on the LC because it’s never going on a track, and it’s not trying to convince you it should. Cars.com West Coast Bureau Chief Conner Golden said it best: The LC 500 feels like an Aston Martin as executed by Lexus. Same big, comfy, luxurious purpose, but done with quality precision on assembly and attention to detail that Aston Martin has never once achieved. 

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(Near) Perfection Comes at a Price

Perhaps perfection isn’t quite the right word, as there were a few issues with the LC 500 we tested. It had a couple of electrical gremlins, including the memory seats not working properly and some of the left-side steering-wheel buttons feeling unusually sticky and unresponsive. Visibility isn’t great with the top up, which also creates that iffy headroom situation, but with the top down, windows up and detachable rear windscreen in place, there’s almost no wind buffeting in the cabin at highway speeds. 

The LC 500 isn’t even priced too outrageously given its competition and positioning. The starting price for the coupe is $99,800 (all prices include destination fee), while the convertible costs a surprisingly reasonable $7,500 more, with the power soft-top LC starting at $107,300. The coupe can also be had in hybrid form with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 and dual electric motors for $103,100 — but you don’t want that one if you’re interested in the glorious V-8 soundtrack. My LC 500 Convertible came with a Bespoke Package, $595 Copper Crest paint, the $1,900 white-and-blue interior, a black top, 21-inch wheels, Mark Levinson premium audio, and a few other odds and ends for a grand total of $117,755. It’s a lot of coin, yes, but not at all outrageous among its peers.

Overall, given the style of the LC 500, the beautiful craftsmanship of its interior, its color options, fantastic powertrain, comfort, lack of overwhelming technology, ease of use and the sheer rarity of the thing, it’s one of the most underappreciated grand-touring cars of all time. Past versions of this car were disqualified from a lot of our lists due to a deal-breaking multimedia system, but that’s now just a bad memory. Now, there’s nothing stopping us from recommending the LC 500 coupe and convertible to anyone looking for a luxury grand tourer. We can say so now wholeheartedly and without reservation: Get one while you can.

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