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2018 RC

Filling the role left by the departed SC in the luxury automaker's lineup, the Lexus RC is a front-engined, rear- or all-wheel drive coupe based on the Lexus IS compact and GS midsize sedans. Available in standard trim and with Lexus' F-Sport performance package, there is an RC for every taste.


The base engine for the RC coupe is a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine producing 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It's offered exclusively with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed manual transmission. This combo is good for 22 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway and 26 combined.

The next step up is a 260-horsepower 3.5L V6 paired exclusively to an all-wheel drive system. The RC 300 AWD comes with a six-speed automatic (rather than the fancy eight-speed on other models) and returns fuel economy identical to that of the range-topping RC 350—19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.

Powered by a 310-horsepower, 3.5L V6 that produces 277lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm, the rear-drive RC 350 can do 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 14.3; the all-wheel drive model hits 60 in 6 seconds flat and does the 1/4 in 14.6. Despite its sporting pretentions, it still returns reasonable fuel economy in both configurations—19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway (22 combined) for the rear-drive model and 19/26 (21 combined) with all-wheel drive.

Outer aggression

The RC 350 follows Lexus' recent sporty and aggressive styling trend. The brand's signature double-trapezoid grille (a blacked-out mesh design on F Sport models) is framed by two-peace front headlamps, the lines from which swoop back to outline the sleek greenhouse. The side profile is highlighted by two aggressive lines. The first is a crease running from the trailing edge of the front fender all the way to the tail lamps; the second swoops upward just behind the door and through the rear fender, mimicking the rear treatment on the IS sedan. Silver-painted, 18” wheels are standard on the RC 350 and a 19” package is available (F Sport models receive gunmetal-grey, 19” wheels).

Inner beauty

Lexus was long known for dull, nondescript, inoffensive interiors. No longer. The RC 350's interior is sleek, modern and tech-centric. An elegant, clean dash sits over a flowing, uncluttered center stack. The RC is a 2+2, with semi-bucket seating in the rear complete with child seat anchors. The seats are upholstered either in NuLuxe (leatherette) or optional leather. F Sport models get unique interior trim and pedals.

F Sport

Lexus uses F to denote its performance sub-brand. The RC 350's F Sport package is akin to the BMW 4-Series' M-Sport package—a collection of upgrades geared toward the enthusiast buyer who isn't quite willing to part with the money required for a full-on performance model.

Several sporty features not found on the base RC 350, including Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system are available on the F Sport. The latter, which is exclusive to rear-wheel-drive F Sport models, includes Dynamic Rear-wheel Steering (DRS).

At speeds up to approximately 50 mph, DRS slightly turns the rear wheels the opposite direction of the front wheels to tighten the turning radius and enhance cornering performance. At higher speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction for enhanced high-speed control and a more natural-feeling vehicle posture through high-speed corners. The DRS system interacts with the SPORT S+ drive mode (exclusive to F Sport models) to make the most of the chassis and powertrain.

Also standard on F Sport models are larger front brake rotors (14.06”) with high-performance pads and aluminum rear calipers.

F Sport models are also available in three unique exterior colors (Ultra White, Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, and a four-layer orange called Molten Pearl) and one unique interior scheme: Rioja Red. Other interior upgrades include aluminum pedals; an F-branded, leather-wrapped steering wheel with perforated leather (matching the shift knob) and unique quilting/stitching on the seats.

Standard and optional equipment

The standard equipment list for the RC 350 is extensive. The base interior features NuLuxe leatherette available in Playa, Flaxen, Light Gray and Black with aluminum and wood trim. A DC outlet, one auxiliary-in jack and two USB jacks can be found in the center console recess. All RC models feature an analog clock mounted on the center stack and Drive Mode Select. Non-F Sport models are equipped with an LCD cluster display and a 160-mph speedometer and an 8,000-rpm tachometer.

Elsewhere in the interior, you'll find a 256-watt, 10-speaker, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA/SiriusXM/HD Radio audio system with integrated Bluetooth and USB/iPod support (with iTunes tagging) and voice recognition. The 7” VGA screen incorporates a back-up monitor with dynamic grid lines.

All RC 350 models also include Lexus Enform Remote, a network system which allows owners to interact with certain on-board features via smartphone applications. Use of this system requires activation and subscription.

Siri Eyes Free is also standard, along with a HomeLink programmable garage door opener.

Lexus also offers several packages and a-la-carte options for the RC 350. Individual options include a power moon roof, heated/ventilated front seats, park assist, LED fog lamps and navigation.

Packages bundle several of the individual options alongside more desirable features. The Mark Levinson package adds navigation and a 17-speaker, 835-watt, 7.1 channel surround-sound audio system. Buyers looking for the ultimate in feature content can add on the Luxury Package (which requires either the backup camera, a-la-carte navigation module or Mark Levinson upgrade), which adds blind spot monitoring, a heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, upgraded side mirrors (auto-dimming, reverse tilt-down units with memory), perforated leather trimmed interior panels with contrast stitching, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and two-position memory (driver's seat, mirrors and steering column).

All-wheel drive models can be equipped with an all-weather package, which includes headlamp washers, a PTC heater and a windshield de-icer.

Occupant safety

Standard on the RC 350 are LED daytime running lights; front, side, side curtain and side torso airbags, ABS, tire pressure monitoring, traction control, three-point belts for all seating positions, speed-sensitive automatic door locks and vehicle dynamic management (stability control) with a shut-off switch. Blind-spot monitoring and rain-sensing wipers are available on the Luxury Package. Pre-collision warning and radar-guided cruise control are available as a-la-carte options.

Key competitors

The Lexus RC 350 competes directly with other compact luxury coupes, including the BMW 4 Series, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Audi A5, Cadillac ATS Coupe and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe.