On The Road

Lexus LC500h is a thing of beauty

Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The Lexus LC500h costs nearly $100,000, but it’s well equipped.

Meet my current dream machine. It’s the “If I had all the money in the world, I’d buy …” car. As I wrote in May when I reviewed the gasoline version of this car, I’m a beauty addict. It’s why I love living in Northern California. Beauty surrounds us.

And for my money, the Lexus LC500h is the most beautiful car on the market. It’s the kind of car that people stop and stare at. I walked outside on a recent Monday to find a neighbor I had never met before standing in my driveway in alternating states of awe and bliss. I have a new friend now. We bonded over the LC500h.

Part of it is the LC’s rarity. So far, there are only approximately 3,000 of them out there after two years in production. But most of it is the styling. I mean, just look at it – low, long and lithe. This is just a spectacular design. It looks like it could punch a hole in the sound barrier. And, yes, it’s fast. But it’s also kinder to the environment than most high-performance cars.

That’s because the Lexus LC500h is a hybrid. That’s right – like a Prius. Sorta. In this case, the combination of a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and an electric motor makes 354 horsepower and gets you from standing still to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds; so not like a Prius, at all. But yes, like a Prius in the sense that it gets remarkably good gas mileage for a performance car (an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 27 mpg city/35 highway) and can operate purely on electricity for short periods of time, during which you are consuming no fuel whatsoever and putting not a single particle of pollutant into the air.

Yes, the gasoline version (LC500, no “h”) is quicker, but only barely (4.4 seconds to 60 mph versus 4.7 for the hybrid), and it’s a lot thirstier (the EPA fuel economy estimate plummets to 16 mpg city/25 highway). And it’s loud. A good loud, yes – but there’s a quiet, effortless whisper to the LC500h that, combined with the close-enough performance numbers and the major improvement in fuel economy, appeals to me. Your mileage (literally) may vary.

Well-equipped luxury

As you’ve probably guessed, none of this comes cheap. The base price for the 2020 LC500h is $97,460. And it comes spectacularly well equipped. Standard equipment includes safety features such as precollision system with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist with steering assist and lane-departure alert, smart stop technology, backup camera with dynamic gridlines and blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. It also comes with navigation on a 10.3-inch display, Wi-Fi hotspot and 12-speaker premium sound system, among a host of other items.

The test vehicle also had some extra-cost options: 21-inch forged wheels ($1,440), head-up display ($900), Mark Levinson 13-speaker premium surround-sound audio system ($1,220), premium Flare Yellow paint ($500) and Sport Package with glass roof and eight-way power front seats with Alcantara inserts ($1,400).

With $1,025 delivery, processing and handling fee, the window sticker price read $104,540.

Some may call that an outrage. I call it an incentive to get rich.

Mike Hagerty is vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists and the co-anchor of the KFBK Afternoon News in Sacramento. Read more of his auto reviews at tirekicker.blogspot.com.

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