When I first drove the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible with the top down, it was on an extremely warm day. The sun was out and, because it’s fall where I live, that means it felt warmer than usual compared to a typical cloudy fall day. I was grateful to be able to even put the top down because it has been known to approach freezing temps this time of year.
I had my son with me and we were cruising around. I noticed how I wasn’t feeling too warm in the seat but didn’t think much about it at the time.
Later that same week (since most car tests run about seven days), the temps dipped down again but, being a dedicated car tester these past 10 years, I decided to leave the top down anyway. I knew the days were numbered before we started seeing snow. Convertibles are awesome throughout the year in places like Florida. Not so much in the Midwest.
I’m a total tech nerd in the classic sense. I’m not enamored by technology only because it exists and it’s cool but mostly because it provides tangible benefits. In my house, I use a connected thermostat that can sense when we are home and turn up the heat a little, then turn the heat down again when we leave to save energy. With this frame of reference in the LC 500, I started noticing how, on this colder day, I still felt fine — nice and warm actually.
Now, I should mention a peculiarity about how I test products. For the last 19 years, I’ve tested thousands and thousands of products. I’ve made this joke before, but I know the names of the various FedEx and UPS drivers. For many years, I exchanged holiday treats with my FedEx driver and she would often give our dog a treat when she dropped off packages.
My quirk is that I like to be surprised. I don’t do a ton of research about the features and like to first go hands-on and experience it as someone who would have purchased the item. I even do this to some extent with the iPhone. Although granted, you can’t escape most of the announcements about the most advanced features. Even then, I like to go into a test without knowing too much about the product and then research my findings later.
In the LC 500 Convertible, there’s a feature called the Lexus Climate Concierge. Again, I’ve been testing cars for 10 years and I have never seen anything like this. (The feature is in the high-end LS 500h model, but I noticed it more profoundly in the convertible.) The system automatically adjusts the climate settings and seat warmer based on current conditions.
Of course, you can adjust all of the settings yourself as in any vehicle, but having the car sense the air temperature and control both the climate settings and the seat warmers (and seat coolers) automatically was a new discovery for me. Various sensors constantly monitor the temp and adjust continually, almost like that thermostat in my connected home.
As usual, I thought about how this could evolve. I’m waiting for the day when cars connect to our phones and know what we’ve been doing. Let’s say you’ve been at the gym all day playing basketball. When you jump into a vehicle like the LC 500 Convertible, it would know to cool things off a little more than normal. If there is a massive heatwave coming later in the day, maybe the system would automatically start cooling down? I think all of that and more is not only possible but imminent with highly connected cars like this one. I’m excited to see where Lexus can take these automations in the coming years.