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 luxury car

BMW sends its V12 engine off in style

BMW will build its final V12 engine this June.

BMW

Most automakers are focused on building EVs and extracting the best fuel economy from gas engines possible, so it’s not surprising to hear that BMW is pulling the plug on one of its biggest and most iconic engines. In June 2022, BMW will build its very last V12 engine for use in a super-limited-production special edition 7 Series model. The ultra-rare cars will carry a starting price of $200,995.

BMW 760i xDrive The last V12 will power a very special (and very expensive) 7 Series car.BMW

Only twelve lucky customers will have the option to nab a V12-powered BMW, which will be called the M760i xDrive. Displacing 6.6 liters, the twin-turbocharged beast produces a massive 601 horsepower. An eight-speed sport automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. BMW says the powertrain is strong enough to push the hefty 7 Series car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds.

The final-run cars will feature little more than a special “V12” badge at the rear to differentiate them from standard 7 Series models. Inside, the car features a serialized plaque with the car’s production number out of the 12 units planned. The engine itself features a nameplate with “The Final V12.”

Beyond the badges, BMW’s 12-cylinder last-hurrah will come standard with 20-inch M double-spoke wheels, a choice of any available BMW full Merino leather color, M Sport brakes with black or blue calipers, a panoramic LED roof, remote control parking, a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, and adaptive LED headlights.

BMW 760i xDrive Only 12 of the cars will be built, with a starting price of more than $200,000.BMW

Though it hasn’t been BMW’s most popular engine over the years, the V12 has been a part of the automaker’s catalog for 35 years. The first 12-cylinder engine showed up in 1987, producing 295 horsepower in the original 750iL sedan.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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