2009 Lexus SC

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2009 Lexus SC Review


A pioneering entry in today's luxury retractable-hardtop segment, the SC 430 enters its eighth year of production by continuing to offer both a sporty character and a comprehensive array of features. Still one of the most evocatively styled vehicles in the entire Lexus portfolio, this V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive 2+2 boasts the ability to transform itself from coupe to convertible at the push of a button. While the overall genre of high-end open cars has expanded in recent years, true upper-echelon competitors for this distinctive Lexus remain few. Heading the list are the two-seat Cadillac XLR and Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, with the BMW 335i Convertible and Infiniti G37 Convertible offering a more affordable alternative for those willing to accept a six-cylinder engine.

You'll Like This Car If...

Buyers who demand the security of a coupe with the style and open-air exhilaration of a convertible in one finely crafted sport luxury package will find plenty to love in the 2009 Lexus SC 430 – all of it backed by one of the world's best dealer networks.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The SC 430's exterior styling won't please everyone, and its rear seating exists in name only. While impressively quick and nicely balanced, it also lacks the precise and crisp responsiveness of the BMW 335i Cabriolet, Cadillac XLR and Mercedes-Benz SL550 or SLK55 AMG.

What's New for 2009

The SC gains integrated side mirror turn signals, a new color and an easier to use power top control switch.

Driving the SC
Driving Impressions

In addition to its overt luxury cues, the 2009 Lexus SC 430 is an extremely capable traveling companion, whether you prefer leisurely freeway cruising or a brisk run down a...

... twisty two-lane. For an open car, the body structure is reassuringly solid. Overall grip from the tires is fairly high, handling is quite good and the steering feels positive, if not quite as precise as that of a BMW. Backing its potent engine and transmission package are driver-selectable stability and traction controls and formidable disc brakes bolstered by Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Although the ride is decently compliant over most surfaces, it can become slightly choppy on rough or broken pavement and definitely picks up a little harshness when the optional, and firmer, run-flat tires are fitted. Serenely quiet with the top up, the SC 430 maintains a surprisingly large measure of that composure even in the open-air mode.

Mark Levinson Audio System
With the power and clarity to please the most demanding audiophile, the SC 430's standard 240-watt nine-speaker Mark Levinson sound system performs superbly, with the top up or down.}

Power Retractable Hardtop
Made of lightweight aluminum, the SC 430's articulated two-piece power top is fully lined and incorporates a glass rear window with defroster. It provides the soundproofing and security of a conventional coupe, can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button and tucks away neatly under the decklid when you opt for the open-air mode.

2009 Lexus SC Details
2009 Lexus SC photo Interior

The 2009 Lexus SC 430 provides a grand touring environment for two, starting with well-bolstered 10-way power seats covered in supple leather, loads of Walnut or Bird's-eye maple and brushed aluminum and chrome accenting. Although the instrument panel's center stack is slightly busy, style-wise, the navigation system, with its glare-limiting variable-angle display, and front, front-side and knee airbags typify the thoughtful attention to detail you'll find here. Alas, vertical seatbacks and micro-munchkin legroom make the SC 430's rear "buckettes" suitable only for stowing small briefcases and preventing the dreaded two-seater insurance-premium bump. Choose the run-flat tire option and the capacity of the diminutive trunk increases from 8.8 to 9.4 cubic feet.


Lexus designers traveled to the French Riviera to draw styling inspiration for the SC 430, quite literally from the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The result is a retractable-hardtop coupe with organic bodywork contours and a host of high-end flourishes. Its well-rounded sheetmetal is accented by expressive projector-beam High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps that incorporate an adaptive corner-following feature, super-bright and quick-activating LED taillamps, heat and UV-ray-rejecting glass and tasteful chrome highlights. Completing the SC 430's aggressively upscale stance are flared fenders that wrap over Z-rated 245/40 performance tires on 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The SC 430's expansive list of standard equipment includes virtually everything a proper grand touring machine should have – from a powerful V-8 engine, six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission and stability and traction controls to a leather- and wood-trimmed cabin with a Mark Levinson premium audio system and voice-activated navigation package. Crowning its array of power assists and comfort and convenience touches is a slick one-touch retractable hardtop.

Optional Equipment

The SC 430's short list of options is headed by the Pebble Beach Edition. For 2009, this semi-exclusive package matches Mercury Metallic paint with an Ecru leather interior, Espresso Bird's-eye maple wood and special 18-inch chrome wheels. Other options include V-rated all-season run-flat tires and a rear decklid spoiler

Under the Hood

Quiet, smooth and responsive, the 2009 Lexus SC 430's all-aluminum 4.3-liter V-8 makes 288 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. Continuously variable valve timing helps this high-tech motivator optimize performance across the entire rev range, although it does require a diet of premium unleaded gas. The transmission is an equally sophisticated six-speed automatic, complete with a sequential-shifting mode for those who prefer manual-style gear changing. It's a well-matched combination that helps the SC 430 sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in about six seconds while earning EPA fuel economy numbers of 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. While those figures are admittedly modest, they're on par with the Cadillac XLR and better than those of the Mercedes-Benz SL550.

4.3-liter V8
288 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
317 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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