The Supreme Grand Touring Convertible Experience

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible

Convertibles used to be as common as any other vehicle on the road. 

Remember that the first automobiles were built without a roof over the driver’s head. While closed roof vehicles were emerging, there were an equal – if not more – numbers of folding roof cars roaming the newly formed highways and byways of our globe. 

These days, convertibles, cabriolets, and roadsters are a treat to witness and drive. They serve both fond memories and invitations to adventures. 

Remember, the first vehicle V&R officially reviewed was a convertible

Last year, Lexus unveiled the convertible version of their LC 500 grand touring coupe (the one that was awarded #VOTY18). They touted it as the finest expression of the brand to date. 

A convertible in its class – and price point – must be a special vehicle. Lexus assured us that the LC 500 Convertible will fulfill that lofty expectation. 

Before I dive into this special vehicle, I have to mention that there was an original intention for this vehicle. You see, the car club I am a board member of – the Great Northern Region of Lambda Car Club International – was planning to participate in this year’s Twin Cities Pride’s Ashley Rukes Parade. The annual parade was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded with the state of Minnesota’s guidelines on mass gatherings and the fallout from the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

There was a glimmer of hope that there will be a parade this year with the rate of vaccinations and easing if some guidelines. Unfortunately, Twin Cities Pride decided to shelve the parade until 2022. I was pretty disappointed as I was unable to show off this beautiful Infrared convertible with the Toasted Caramel leather interior on the streets of downtown Minneapolis. 

Nonetheless, the show must go on. I have this car in for work. Therefore, I must work (with) it. 

Not that it is a burden. Much less so. When you have something as special as an LC 500 Convertible, the inclination to drive it is to thoroughly enjoy every mile in it. 

Before you take to the road in one, you have to appreciate the beauty in the artistry of this car. 

With the top up, it evokes a classic grand touring car. Not a fastback, but a long rear deck area accommodating the tonneau cover and the trunk lid. One observation pointed out that the LC Convertible had “mid-engine vibes.” Hopefully not the vibes of a Ferrari Mondial QV Cabriolet. 

Folding the top is done symphonically in mere seconds. It was just artistry in motion. The result is the roof put away behind the tonneau cover adding infinite headroom. There is a piece of glass installed on the tonneau cover as to manage airflow. My tester also had a collapsible wind deflector that covers the rear seats. 

Video courtesy of George Torline

The fabric roof is layered to protect the LC Convertible’s occupants. The Twin Cities had plenty of rain, which tested the roof’s protection. The roof did its job, as did the seals around it. 

Once the roof is down, you can only admire the silhouette the LC Convertible displays. Just the way Lexus crafted this car by carefully eliminating thew fastback roof from the coupe is visually stunning. 

What remains is a magnificent car with superior presence. The wide rear fenders embody a muscular demeanor. The front end is sculpted and crafted from the best interpretation of the Spindle Grille. Finishing off the look are the signature staggered-width 21-inch chrome alloy wheels that make the LC desirable in either the coupe or convertible. 

One thing that I received a lot of feedback on is my tester’s color – Infrared. This is a F Sport/Performance color that makes any Lexus pop. In this convertible, it looks more like a signature look than a color chip on the website. 

The interior is done in Toasted Caramel. You will find a bit of two-tone to the main interior color, which is subtle enough for people to notice. Perforated Semi-Aniline Leather is available in a package that elevates the experience. The trim is also in leather – from the door cards to the top of the instrument panel. 

This 2+2 is classified as a Grand Tourer. Yet, anyone who dares to sit in the rear seat is not going to be comfortable – even behind me. With the glass piece on the tonneau cover, this would not be a good parade car for a VIP or a Grand Marshal. Luckily, the original plan for Twin Cities Pride would be just me behind the wheel, honking and waving at the crowd. That is, if the crowd was entranced by the LC Convertible…

As with the coupe, the LC Convertible has the LFA-influenced instrument cluster seen regular on F Sport/Performance models. The sliding large dials reveal more information page on the left screen, while the tachometer dominates the cluster. The speedometer is digital for clearer reading. Also, you get a wide head-up display giving you essential information without being distracted by anything below the windshield. 

One of the reasons why the LC won #VOTY18 was the ergonomic package of the cockpit. It is ensure that the driver is engaged with his vehicle. The shift-by-wire lever fits the hand, even if the shift pattern looked familiar to CT 200h drivers. This is a great interpretation of that lever that makes the LC unique in contrast to other luxury grand touring cars. 

My tester is equipped with the 13-speaker, 915-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio System. To create the sound for that system, the trackpad on the center console controls the recessed 10.3-inch infotainment screen. You also have a large knob and two scroll controllers supporting the system, along with redundant controls on the steering wheel. 

Trunk space is rated at 3.7 cubic feet, due to the roof receptacle when it is down. It does not look that small, really, Maybe there is enough room for two duffle bags on a weekender somewhere a few hours away. However, it is too small for one particular piece of luggage – the bag containing my conga drum Boomer. Just be aware of what you're loading into the trunk and what can fit behind the front seats when you are going somewhere in the LC 500 Convertible.

The LC Convertible is available only with the 471-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine seen on the LC 500 Coupe. This powerful engine is connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. While emitting a powerful exhaust note, it is a balanced cruiser. You work the throttle in towards the appropriate response when changing lanes or getting onto the highway. However, it is also well-behaved and mellow when it needs to be. 

As far as fuel economy is concerned, I averaged 19.5 MPG. If there’s any consolation, this is a better fuel consumption average than a vast majority of the convertibles from my youth. 

The one concern about convertibles is whether removing the roof will weaken the overall structure – especially reward from the doors. Lexus reworked the cabin structure, rear suspension and unibody bracing to remove any potential flexing of the body. The result is a convertible that offered confidence in the driver to take it around corners – or on parade routes. 

In addition, the suspension set-up felt tight, absorbing rough road patches without transmitting them into the cabin. Ride quality is superb in Normal mode on smoother surfaces.

Those 21-inch staggered-width wheels I mentioned before provided both a powerful stance and increased stability. In turn, handling felt more balanced from both coupe versions. You can push it to higher limits, which will be rewarding on more challenging roads. 

The steering system offered great on-center feel in Normal, and a more enhanced and heavier feel in Sport S+. The turning radius was fine, as expected. Overall, I like the response from the steering wheel down to road.

When you look at the large rotors at each wheel, you are convinced of the power that will stop this 4,540-pound grand touring 2+2 convertible. Up front, you have 15.7-inch two-piece ventilated disc rotors with six-piston calipers, with 14.1-inch disc rotors in the rear with four-piston calipers. In all, stops were superb in normal, panic, and wet situations. Pedal feel was powerful and instilled confidence in this system. 

How much would you pay for this beautiful grand touring 2+2 convertible? According to the sticker on this tester, the answer is $112,420. Starting price for the 2021 LC 500 Convertible is $101,000. 

The way Lexus transitioned the LC coupe into the convertible resulted in a stunning automobile. A grand touring car that understands its mission and fulfills it every time you go for a drive. 

However, the LC Convertible is a very rare find in the wild. There are a few owners out there. If you’re looking for one, good luck! 

If you are indeed lucky to experience a Lexus LC 500 Convertible, you are in for a supreme time. The advanced design still holds up after the coupe’s 2018 model year debut. The rarity attracts everyone to it. This rolling conversation piece is a magnificent automobile – dare I say better than the two coupes I drove a few years towards awarding #VOTY18?

I just did. 

There is nothing like a convertible. Even better, a grand tourer. That is the supreme experience that needs to be captured by those of us who love cars. Always have; always will be.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Toyota Motor North America

All photos by Randy Stern, unless otherwise noted

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