12.27.2017

Motivation: The 2018 Lexus LC 500h

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Lexus LC 500h
The 2018 Lexus LC500h.
There are many cars that I can admire for their beauty alone.  Most are classics.  The first one I can remember is the original 1961 Jaguar E-Type.  My father pulled over on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood one evening so five-year-old me could press his nose against the glass of Hornburg Jaguar's showroom and marvel. 



I've appreciated cars since, but I haven't felt that sense of wonder until October, when I attended Western Automotive Journalists' annual Silicon Valley Re-invents The Wheel gathering, and this was parked out front.  I shared my visceral reaction with the world via Instagram:



So imagine my surprise when not one, but two press loans get cancelled because the cars were needed by the manufacturer in a different city, and my consolation prize turns out to be a week in the Lexus LC 500h.  The very same vehicle that I had seen and lusted after six weeks before.

A further bit of joy: Mrs. TireKicker and I had planned a four-day getaway to Los Angeles for the week that now would include our evaluation of the LC 500h.  I made many valets (El Cholo, Clifton's Pacific Seas, Musso and Frank Grill) very happy, to say nothing of bystanders:



Yeah, I know, in the picture, they're all looking at the donuts, but the car got some major attention too.

Oh, yeah...the car.  Still very rare on the street, even in Los Angeles.  So here's the scoop:

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h
The 2018 Lexus LC 500h is the hybrid version of Lexus' new sport coupe.  The purely gasoline-powered version is the LC 500.  It has a 471-horsepower V8 engine and starts at $92,000. 

In the hybrid, you give up significant power (the total system power is 354 horsepower), but you gain some environmental cred by polluting and consuming less.  The gasoline version has an EPA estimate of 16 miles per gallon city/29 highway.  The LC 500h bumps that up to 26/35.  And there's the priceless factor of watching people's reactions when you tell them this fantastic beast is a hybrid.

I say "priceless", and that's not exactly so.  There is a price.  The LC 500h is more expensive than the V8, starting at $96,510...but the difference in fuel economy is such that you'd likely save that much over the life of the car, if not the term of your loan.

Interior view of 2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC500h interior.
And in a way that only Lexus seems to get exactly right, the LC 500h blends beauty and practicality.

Unlike many exotics, which get driven only a couple of thousand miles a year, I'm betting LC 500h owners will drive their cars everywhere, every chance they get.  Besides being a Lexus, and thus utterly reliable, the car is supremely comfortable. 

We got caught in Sunday-after-Thanksgiving traffic coming back from L.A., which along with starting out with a scenic leg (up Highway 1 from Santa Monica to Ventura, then turning inland), turned a six-and-a-half hour drive into 11 hours.  And at no time were either of us uncomfortable or itching for a break from the car.  The seats are superb.  The climate control system knows exactly how much cold and warm air to blow.  The optional Mark Levinson Reference surround sound audio system is magnificent.  And the standard all-speed dynamic radar cruise control will maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you even at a crawl...all the way to a full stop...and will start moving again either automatically, or, in the case of a prolonged stop, at one flick of the speed control switch.

The $96,510 base price buys the hybrid powertrain, 20-inch, ten-spoke forged wheels with run-flat tires, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high-beam headlamps, lane keep assist with steering assist and lane departure alert, smart stop technology, triple-projector ultra-compact LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, tire pressure monitor, a first aid kit, a tool kit, keyless entry with pushbutton start/stop, heated and ventilated ten-way leather trimmed power seats, electroluminescent gauges with shift indicator, oil temperature and a G-force meter, automatic dual-zone climate control with pollen filter, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, side view mirrors with defogger and memory, and inside auto-dimming electrochromic rearview mirror, a 12-speaker Lexus premium audio system, the Lexus Enform information and destination app suite, automatic sound levelizer, Bluetooth, dual USB jacks, Siri eyes-free, predictive traffic, a backup monitor with dynamic gridlines, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio controls, memory and cruise control, and carpeted floor mats.

There's also Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect, which is free for the first ten years of ownership.  Because, let's face it....this car is a keeper.

As with all Lexuses, there were some options (though fewer because it's hard to upgrade what comes standard in the LC 500h).  In this case, an extra $1,000 for the Convenience Package, which is intuitive park assist and a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, $900 for a heads-up display, $1,790 for the Touring Package, which includes semi-aniline leather-trimmed front seats, an Alcantara headliner,  a 13-speaker, 915-watt Mark Levinson Reference surround sound audio system, $65 for a cargo net, $20 for a leather key glove (which wraps around the key fob since there is no actual key) and $105 for a carpeted trunk mat.

Add $995 for delivery, processing and handling and the bottom line is:

$101,385.

Those of you who read TireKicker regularly know I'm not an impractical man.  I appreciate many cars whose sticker prices stay well on this side of $40,000...even $30,000. 

But, like the 2017 Volvo S90 T6 Inscription that had me doing some serious "what-if" math....in fact, more than that Volvo....I want the Lexus LC 500h.  It spoiled me rotten in seven days.  By my Dad's formula of never buying a car that costs more than half your annual salary, that means I need to start clearing $202,770 a year.  Minimum.

It's not just a car. 

It's motivation.

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