Behind the Wheel

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Review: It's completely unnecessary and a complete delight

Lexus has nailed the design of the first LC 500 Convertible.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Why do most people buy cars? It's out of necessity. They need to get somewhere and they need a vehicle that can haul everything they need to as part of a daily routine. And, they want as much bang for their buck as they can get.

Most people don't ever get to the point in their life where they buy a car just because they want it. They don't need a new car but, they've seen a commercial, an article, or an Instagram post perhaps, and it's piqued their interest enough to make them explore getting a car just because they want one.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible The face of the LC 500 Convertible is virtually unchanged from its LC 500 coupe sister.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

For avid off-road enthusiasts, that may be a fully kitted out Jeep Wrangler. For others, it may be a vintage Ford Mustang or Chevy SS. For a select few, it might just be a new cabriolet like the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible.

No one buys the LC 500 Convertible because they need one. It's a car they desire both to drive and be seen in. To that end, Lexus has fully delivered.

To get there, they didn't just chop the roof off of the LC 500 and call it a day. They re-engineered the chassis, smoothed out most of the transmission flaws, and then made the top-down effect as glamorous as it could be. The top-up look isn't bad either.

The LC 500 is a driver's car. The convertible version doesn't stray from that. It goes right where you point it and has a tight turning circle. Lexus has given the car the same engine as the traditional LC, a 5.0-liter V8, that delivers the type of power that a driver wants it to. Traditionalists will be happy to hear that this is one V8 that Lexus isn't planning on getting rid of.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible The LC 500 Convertible is a well-engineered model that is as good to look at as it is to drive.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Those aforementioned improvements make a big difference, especially at higher speed. At lower speed, you'll want to switch the car into the Sport or Sport+ drive mode for the smoothest transition off the line.

It's good – and not just for a cabriolet.

Lexus has taken a page from the Mercedes-Benz Airscarf playbook and added heating and cooling to space at the bottom of the headrest, which works in tandem with the car's automatic climate control to make top-down driving a possibility, even when it's 100 degrees out. Trust me, I tried it, and I shockingly didn't sweat through my clothes.

Seats are comfortable for the driver and passenger, as long as your COVID 15 didn't turn into the COVID 150. The coupe design means little floor space for a big purse, and few in-cabin storage opportunities for water bottles or phones.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The interior and exterior of the car are as expected from a design standpoint. Of note, the convertible top near-silently folds into its own compartment and leaves the trunk space available.

The biggest quibble I have with the LC is the track pad system for navigating the car's infotainment screen. It's not ideal, to say the least. However, it has been improved over the years and has moved from unacceptable to tolerable. It's no longer a reason to not buy a Lexus.

The LC 500 Convertible isn't for everyone and its price tag reflects that. It has a $101,000 starting MSRP. That's hefty, but in line with what you'd expect given the price tag of other high-end convertibles.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible A vent at the bottom of the headrest allows hot or cold air to flow on the passengers.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible is everything it needs to be and likely everything a buyer wants it to be. Nearly everything about it just feels right.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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Lexus took a different approach to launch the new IS.

Lexus

Lexus knows how to make a good V8. The LC 500, RC F, and even older cars like the SC 400 all feature a buttery, powerful Lexus V8. The IS sports sedan never has been given the V8 treatment, but that's about to change for the 2022 model year. The automaker is jamming a big V8 in the space normally occupied by a four- or six-cylinder engine to create the 2022 IS 500 F Sport. The automaker's new marketing campaign for the car takes a slightly different approach than the "big red bow" commercials it usually makes, starting with a short documentary called "License to Thrill."

2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport 14 drivers competed for a chance to be one of the first IS 500 F Sport owners.Lexus

The IS 500 F Sport is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that makes 472 horsepower. It's the most powerful Lexus IS ever, so it's not surprising that the automaker chose to highlight its performance in its launch marketing campaign.



The documentary follows 14 auto enthusiasts who participated in a driving event for a chance to own (buy) one of five early cars. Drivers were taken to the Apex Motor Club in Arizona, where they received tips from Lexus IMSA drivers Townsend Bell, Jack Hawksworth, and Aaron Telitz before hitting the track in an IS 500 F Sport. Each driver had an opportunity to set the best lap times in the car. Top lap times earned a chance to be one of the first to purchase the car, but Lexus also gave away one IS 500 to an unexacting participant.

2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Lexus gave away one of the cars.Lexus

The IS 500 launch will include other events that involve artists and content producers. Pro driver JR Hildebrand will drive the car for a MotorTrend special, while 100 Thieves and Garagisme will create publications and video content involving the car.

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