Premium sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $13,500 – $44,000*


2002 Lexus SC 430


2002 Lexus SC 430


2002 Lexus SC 430 interior


2004 Lexus SC 430


2004 Lexus SC 430

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Build quality
  • Handling
  • Interior materials
  • Quietness
  • Ride (regular tires)
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room

The SC 430 is a posh, pleasant semi-sporting convertible with the extra security and convenience of a power metal roof. You also get Lexus’s brand of workmanship and reliability. No, this one isn’t cheap, but some rivals with similar power and features cost even more. Demand has exceeded supply, which tends to keep secondhand prices high.

Overview

For the first time, Toyota’s luxury division launched a convertible. Not an ordinary soft-top, the all-new SC 430 had a power-retractable metal roof. A small rear seat was intended for occasional use, mainly by youngsters, so it was really a two-seater. With the rear-drive SC 430, Lexus competed against the BMW Z8 roadster, Jaguar XK8, and Mercedes-Benz CLK and SL500.

Lexus took the SC’s V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission from the company’s top-line LS 430 sedan. Standard features included front side airbags, antilock four-wheel disc brakes with full-power emergency-stop assist, an antiskid/traction system, and tire-pressure monitor.

Alloy wheels held 18-inch tires. Inside, the two occupants enjoyed leather/wood cabin trim and a premium Mark Levinson audio system. Options were limited to a rear spoiler, navigation system, and run-flat tires.

Yearly Updates

2003 SC 430
This upper-crust convertible added optional Lexus Link service as its sole change for 2003. Also available for the LS 430, Lexus Link was basically GM’s OnStar system, with similar emergency assistance and concierge services, but monitored by a separate Lexus-only staff of operators.
2004 SC 430
A limited-production Pebble Beach Edition debuted for 2004. Only about 400 were to be built. Each featured Azure Pearl paint, Ecru leather upholstery, a rear spoiler, run-flat tires, special badging–and even a leather golf bag.
2005 SC 430
SC 430 lost its Lexus Link assistance system, but otherwise saw only detail changes this year. For 2005, the SC 430 got revised shock absorbers and a navigation system with more-detailed screen graphics and a larger DVD database.
2006 SC 430
A 6-speed automatic transmission and cosmetic touch-ups marked this upper-crust convertible for 2006.
2007 SC 430
The addition of standard front-knee airbags marked 2007 for Lexus’ convertible.
2008 SC 430
The 2008 Lexus SC 430 carried over unchanged.
2009 SC 430
There were no changes of note to the 2009 Lexus SC 430.
2010 SC 430
The 2010 Lexus SC 430 was largely unchanged.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Each SC 430 held a 300-horsepower, 4.3-liter V8 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 325
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

18/23

16.6

Road Test

A relaxed cruiser, the SC 430 performs capably. The V8’s “drive-by-wire” throttle makes takeoffs seem lazy, but the SC gathers speed rapidly. A test car accelerated from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. The silken transmission is generally responsive, but will hesitate to downshift in certain situations.

Fuel economy could be better, and premium fuel is required. A test model averaged 16.6 mpg, which is on par with the rival Jaguar XK8. Another one logged 18.5 mpg despite performance tests.

Although the SC 430 is essentially an easy rider, 18-inch performance tires produce hard-edge jitters on patchy pavement, as well as some wander along grooved surfaces. Optional run-flats with stiff sidewalls make the ride even harsher. The body shows minor top-down quiver on rough roads, but an SC is closed-coupe solid with the top up.

Despite slightly numb steering, the SC is agile for a luxury tourer. The traction/antiskid system is a safety plus. So are the brakes. One test SC wandered slightly in a “panic” stop, but distances were short and nosedive minimal.

With its top up, the SC matches or beats most luxury coupes for quiet refinement, despite some low but audible wind rustle and coarse-pavement tire thrum. Top-down wind buffeting is the lowest among convertibles we’ve tested.

Instruments and controls are largely trouble-free. The navigation-system screen angles to suit ambient light, but can still wash out. Steering-wheel audio volume buttons are a bit obscured.

Lexus’s sumptuous, beautifully crafted cabin features real wood, soft leather, and discreet brightwork. The retracting top works smoothly and swiftly, up and down.

Comfortable 10-way power seats are low-set, hampering entry/exit. Some drivers may also complain about visibility. Seats are also too flat for good lateral positioning in fast cornering.

Leg space is ample, but top-up head room is just adequate for six-footers. Don’t even think about the token back “seat,” which is suitable only for small parcels and pets.

Cargo space is nearly nonexistent with the top stowed. Even with the top up, the trunk holds barely enough for two on a long weekend, provided you pack carefully. The run-flat option omits the spare tire, to add a minimal 0.6 cubic feet–a poor trade for its harsher ride.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Lexus SC 430

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 7
70%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 1
10%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 2
20%

Total: 50

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.1 177.8 72.0 53.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
8.8 19.8 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.2 33.9 43.6 27.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: The shifter may not always move out of park, even with the brakes applied, due to a rubber anti-rattle pad malfunction, requiring the installation of a revised pad. (2001-02)
Engine mounts
Description: Rough idle while in gear is caused by a broken motor mount. (2002-04)
Engine noise
Description: A chirping or squealing noise may come from under the hood when the engine is started due to a slipping serpentine belt and an improved part has been made available. (2002-04)
Audio system
Description: The radio controls in the steering wheel may malfunction, especially if the battery has been disconnected, and must be reprogrammed. 2001-08)
Trunk latch
Description: If the trunk is opened while the convertible top is opening or closing, the top must be manually opened or closed then the trunk must be shut. (2002)
Vehicle shake
Description: Engine vibrates at idle due to worn engine mount stabilizer and/or engine mount. (2002-04)
Accessory belt
Description: Squealing noise from under the hood upon cold startup unless an improved accessory drive belt has been installed. (2001-04)

Recall History

2002-2004 SC
Description: Passenger-side frontal airbag inflator may rupture upon deployment and spray metal fragments at the passenger.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.