July 5, 2020
2020 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series quick drive review: Get it in the good color

2020 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series quick drive review: Get it in the good color


Nori Green is very, very good.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The 2020 Lexus LC 500¬†pictured here here is both totally familiar and extremely special. Mechanically speaking, it’s no different than the bright-yellow version my colleague Craig Cole reviewed back in November. But this one is the Inspiration Series, and though it looks like any other LC, only 100 of these green-over-brown coupes will be sold in the US.

I love a good green, and the one on this LC 500 is fantastic. It’s called Nori Green Pearl, and it’s exclusive to the Inspiration Series LC — for now, anyway. This hue has great depth; it looks excellent whether viewed in direct sunlight or in the shade. And it somehow makes the already eye-catching Lexus LC 500 even more attractive. What a stunner.

If I could make one change, it’d be a new set of wheels. These 21-inch alloys are the same ones you can option on the standard LC models, and I’ve always thought they were a bit too flashy for a car so sophisticated and elegant. Imagine a set of dark-metallic wheels, or something with a more subdued satin finish. Really, anything to further set this LC apart from lesser models would be cool. Carrying over the already-available 21s just kind of feels like a cop-out.

Thankfully, the Inspiration Series’ interior gets a really special up-do, with a bespoke saddle tan color scheme unique to this LC. This color adorns the super-comfy aniline leather seats, and it looks great alongside the darker brown Alcantara fabric on the doors and the black amber leather on the steering wheel, dashboard and center console.

The interior is comfortable and stylish, but the infotainment tech is a chore to use.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

I much prefer this interior treatment to the one you can get in the optional sport package on other LC models. Those cars have Alcantara inserts in the seats, which I don’t love, and I think limiting this suede-like fabric to the doors makes it feel more special. Lexus could’ve gone gung-ho with the soft stuff for the Inspiration Series, but I appreciate the restraint. And kudos to Lexus for not wrapping the steering wheel in this material, either. There’s no bit of “luxury” I hate more.

Overall, I like the design of this interior, with its tiered dash and flowing lines. You sit low behind the wheel, and the digital gauge cluster provides a wealth of information despite being relatively compact. One small gripe here: Green lights for the parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are constantly illuminated while you’re driving. It’s kind of distracting, and like, why alert me if the systems are on and working? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Other Toyota/Lexus products do this, too, and I just don’t understand why.

Of course, this pales in comparison to the absolute biggest problem with the LC’s interior: the multimedia system. Lexus’ trackpad-style interface is still here and still awful to use — especially while driving — with myriad menus and submenus and additional menus to try and click through while struggling to hit specific points via that stupid flat pad. Some functions have dedicated hard buttons, thank God, but then other tasks are almost mind-boggling in their complexity. Want to turn on the heated seats? Press menu, then scroll to the climate section, then hit the seat settings on the left rail, and then adjust the heating and cooling. How in the hell can something so simple (and so frequently used) be so complicated?

The LC’s V8 engine puts out 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The best way to use Lexus’ infotainment software is to not use it at all, and plug your phone in to run Apple CarPlay on the 10.3-inch screen. Oh, wait, you have an Android phone? Hmm. Seems you’re out of luck — at least for a few more months. But hey, at least you can use Amazon Alexa, Spotify, Audible and other standard apps. That’s worth something, I guess.

As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to the Inspiration Series’ greasy bits, they’re all the same as the standard LC 500. That means there’s a 5.0-liter, naturally aspirated V8 under the hood, sending 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. And before you ask, no, you can’t get the Inspiration Series treatment on the LC 500h hybrid. Trust me, that’s a good thing.

The LC’s V8 is a honey of an engine, happy to rev to high heaven — or to its 7,300-rpm redline, anyway. There’s a sweet, free-breathing V8 song, and it really comes alive above 3,500 rpm, when the active exhaust fully opens.

The LC 500 is certainly no slouch, able to accelerate to 60 mph in a manufacturer-claimed 4.4 seconds. But if outright performance is what you’re after, the Inspiration Series isn’t the model for you. Yes, it comes with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential — a $390 option on other LCs — but you can’t get the Inspiration Series with the performance package. That’s a bummer because, in addition to nonessential items like a carbon-fiber roof and Alcantara headliner, this $5,960 upgrade unlocks active rear steering and variable-ratio steering, two hugely helpful bits of performance tech.

The best thing about the Inspiration Series is the green paint, and you’ll be able to spec it on the 2021 LC, which kind of makes this car irrelevant.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Does that mean the LC 500 Inspiration Series is bad to drive? Hardly. Especially in its sharpest Sport S Plus mode, the LC is plenty of fun. It’s easy to catch the 10-speed automatic transmission off guard sometimes, and with that many ratios in its set, the gearbox occasionally hunts to find its happy place. You can override this by using the big, steering wheel-mounted paddles, but the transmission doesn’t shift with the quickness of a dual-clutch ‘box, so be sure to plan your ups and downs accordingly.

The performance pack add-ons would be nice, especially since the steering is kind of lifeless and this big coupe could use some assistance getting through corners, but I don’t really think this is a make-or-break situation. Besides, I have to imagine that the majority of people plunking down six figures on a Lexus LC are doing so because of the way it looks rather than its at-the-limit precision. If it’s a sports car you’re after, just wait for the LC F.

The Inspiration Series is the most expensive LC model, at $104,105 including $1,025 for destination. That’s not a huge increase over the standard LC 500, especially when you consider that adding the performance package and a few other niceties can easily bring the base car up past $105,000.

But honestly, this car is kind of irrelevant. You’ll be able to buy the 2021 LC in Nori Green, and that model comes with a number of powertrain and suspension updates, not to mention Android Auto. Personally, that’s the way I’d go, especially since that means unlocking the performance pack option, too. No, the brown interior doesn’t carry over, but considering all the other upgrades, I think you’ll manage.



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