Lexus LC500h 2Editorial note: Business Insider will name its 2017 Car of the Year on November 14, based on 15 finalists. Each day this week, we’re taking another look at the five vehicles that were runners-up.  So far, we’ve revealed the  Acura TLX A-Spec and the 2018 McLaren 720S. Now it’s time for the double threat of the Lexus LC 500 and LC 500h.

  • Lexus has served up not one but two flavors of its two-door sports car.
  • We’re not talking supercars here, but these are an astonishing dynamic duo.
  • The LC 500 is old school, with a big V8 under the hood; the LC 500h is like a Prius gone mad.

Lexus decided to reinvent the sports coupé at a time when SUVs are all the rage, and there’s some serious boldness in that. But Lexus, not exactly know for bold moves, didn’t just do it once. Instead, Lexus doubled down with a pair of two-doors: the LC 500, with its stonking raw power; and the LC 500h, with its clever hybrid drivetrain.

We were lucky enough to sample both, close together. And we were equally impressed, but in different ways.

When you think of hybrids, you think of Toyota. The Prius reset expectations for what consumers could expect from fuel-economy and emissions when it arrived on the scene nearly 20 years ago. 

Since then, Toyota has expanded its hybrid offerings, taking the tech out of the familiar Prius form and installing it in sedans and SUVs. Now a version of the system has been dropped into a high-performance Lexus sports car, the LC 500h.

It wasn’t a simple process, but ultimately, it was worth it. Lexus, Toyota’s luxury division, sells two versions of the LC 500: one with a big V8 under the hood, and the 500h variation we’re considering here. With the big-motor LC, you get a 10-speed automatic (with manual mode) and a straightforward linkage between gears and engine, in a rear-whee-drive grand-touring platform. 

With the 500h, you get a tricky double transmission, two electric motors, and a smaller but still potent V6 engine. 

In both cases, you get a car that literally stopped traffic twice when we borrowed them. Yes, the LC 500/500h is a good-looking car. Possibly the best-looking Lexus money can buy.

Our 500h test car tipped the cost scales at well over $100,000, but the base vehicle is a mere $96,000 and change (the LC 500 is $92,000). Here’s what we thought.

Photos by Hollis Johnson unless otherwise indicated.

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The LC 500h landed in all its shimmering hybrid two-door glory near our offices in Manhattan.

We didn’t initially think the looks were particularly show-stopping, but EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO WALKED BY begged to differ. The only vehicle that garnered more attention of late was our 2016 Car of the Year, the Acura NSX.

The controversial Lexus “spindle” grille. It works on some vehicles, such as the LC and the Lexus SUVs, but it’s less successful on the brand’s sedans.

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