|Positives: Attractive and sleek exterior, stiff chassis, effortless cruising, easy to use infotainment system, and plenty of features.|
|Negatives: Feels a little heavy in turns, not as fast as rivals, less trunk space than the competition.|
|Bottom Line: The Lexus RC 350 is a sporty rear-drive coupe that's as luxurious as it is interesting to look at. Lexus has a comfortable, upscale and refined package in the RC. However, it's not the sportiest car out there. This is a car for the man or woman who likes to drive the occasional technical road but isn't interested in an all-out track monster. It's a coupe that sits between the hard-edged sports cars and the soft luxury cars.|
The Lexus RC 350 is simply a pleasurable car to drive. You get a powerful V6 engine that actually sounds good, a smooth ride, and responsive steering. We could tell right away that itâ€™s a little on the softer side for the segment, but that didnâ€™t really bother us. Itâ€™s nice to be behind the wheel of such a smooth and solid-feeling car. As long as youâ€™re not racing other sports cars out there and just want to enjoy the drive, the Lexus RC 350 delivers. Itâ€™s a fun and refined car that doesnâ€™t try to be the baddest on the block. If you want something a little sportier, you can add the F Sport package, or, if you have the money, upgrade to the beastly RC F.
Ride Quality: The RC 350 balances firmness and comfort well. The carâ€™s suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease and does so without feeling too soft.
Acceleration: The RC 350 feels pretty fast, and it has a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. However, if you look at competitors, like the BMW 440i or the Cadillac ATS (V6), youâ€™ll see that itâ€™s lagging behind its rivals.
Braking: The brakes bring the coupe to a stop easily. They are progressive and firm, without any soft spots along the pedalâ€™s travel.
Steering: The light and responsive steering makes the RC 350 easy to pilot around curves. Weâ€™re glad Lexus didnâ€™t make the steering excessively and artificially hefty like some automakers do when they're trying to make a car feel sportier. Even in sport mode it was easy to turn the wheel.
Handling: For the most part, the RC corners well and handles its roughly 3,800 lb curb weight in the corners. Still, its weight can be felt and keeps the car from feeling like a true track competitor. With the F Sport package, it would undoubtedly handle better.
Lexus vehicles utilize the companyâ€™s Enform infotainment system, which is pretty good, but weâ€™ve never really gotten used to Lexusâ€™ weird touchpad mouse controllers. It seems, though, that Lexus finally decided to scrap the weird touch controller and opt for a dial-joystick controller. Aside from the RC 350â€™s new controller, the car gets plenty of features including Bluetooth connectivity, Enformâ€™s app suite, and Sirius XM radio. The system lacked Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which should be available at this point in the game.
Infotainment System: The 7-inch infotainment screen provides clear graphics and an intuitive user interface. While other infotainment systems like the ones found in BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles appear more modern, the Enform system isnâ€™t as labyrinthine as its competitorâ€™s systems.
Controls: The much-improved dial-joystick controller is a lot like the controllers found in BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Mazda vehicles. Itâ€™s tactile and easy to use. Unlike the old touch-based controllers, you know when the system responds to your inputs. There are also a couple knobs, some small buttons on the dash by the climate controls, and steering wheel controls.
Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing a phone in the RC 350 was simple and quick. We experienced no issues.
Voice Call Quality: Good call quality with no issues.
Lexusâ€™ vehicles are definitely not boring. While the styling isnâ€™t beautiful to everyone, thereâ€™s no way you can say the swooping lines down the side of the RC 350 arenâ€™t eye-catching. Love it or leave it, youâ€™re going to notice an RC coming down the street.
Front: The Lexus spindle grille is a bit of a sore spot for many of the companyâ€™s vehicles, but it seems to fit the RC well. The large grille takes up most of the carâ€™s front and the aggressive headlights and barbed line of LED running lights complete a dynamic front end.
Rear: The rear of the car is a little busy due to the weird fins fitted to the bumper underneath the taillights, but itâ€™s the most unattractive part of the car and we found ourselves not caring much.
Profile: The RC looks best from the side. The swooping lines run all the way down the car and accentuate its sport coupe shape.
Cabin: The interior is less polarizing than the exterior. Itâ€™s an attractive and upscale looking cabin with an analog clock sitting front and center, separating the infotainment screen from the climate controls. Everything looks like it belongs and there are no major eyesores. Also, Lexus included genuine wood trim, which helps spruce up the cabin.
The RC 350 is the kind of car you can settle into for a long drive and really grow to enjoy. Thereâ€™s plenty of soft-touch material, everything is ergonomically where it should be, and unwanted noises are kept to a minimum. The rear seats are cramped, but what two-door coupes arenâ€™t?
Front Seats: The 10-way power adjustable front seats were well-padded, decently bolstered and clad in NuLux material. Legroom was plentiful, and thereâ€™s more than enough headroom and shoulder room.
Rear Seats: The rear seats offer good support and bolstering, but not nearly enough room for regular-sized adults. Kids will fit in these seats easily, but the average adult will find insufficient leg and head room.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The RC is a quiet and solidly built vehicle. There is some tire noise that makes it into the cabin at highway speeds, but otherwise, we noticed no errant noises or vibrations.
Visibility: You sit low in a coupe like the RC so forward visibility is somewhat limited in traffic. However, forward sightlines are good and even seeing out the rear of the car isnâ€™t too bad despite the somewhat small rear window. Of course, the backup camera helps considerably.
Climate: The automatic climate control cools off the cabin easily, and the heated and ventilated front seats are powerful as well.
The Lexus RC 350 isnâ€™t just an attractive and sporty car, itâ€™s also a safe vehicle. The NHTSA has not yet rated this car but the IIHS gave it top marks in its crashworthiness and crash avoidance and mitigation technology categories.
IIHS Rating: Top Saftey Pick+ with good ratings in every category except headlights where it received an â€œacceptableâ€ rating.
NHTSA Rating: Not rated.
Standard Tech: The RC 350 comes with a fair amount of standard safety equipment, including 8 airbags, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamics integrated management, tire-pressure monitoring system, and a backup camera.
Optional Tech: Our tester came with just a few optional safety features, including a windshield deicer and headlamp cleanser, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.
Two-door coupes with sleek roof lines arenâ€™t exactly known for their spacious cargo holds. The RC 350 is no different. In fact, it has one of the smaller trunks in its class. Also, the interior doesnâ€™t offer many storage spaces either. If you were looking for a car that offers plenty of storage in a sporty package, this isnâ€™t it.
Storage Space: The RC 350 has a small space in the center console for your phone, keys, or wallet. Thereâ€™s also a couple of cup holders, but thatâ€™s about it. Anything else you want to bring along will have to go in the door pockets, glove box, or backseat.
Cargo Room: The 10.4 cubic foot trunk isnâ€™t very spacious and offers only enough space to make a grocery run. If you were hoping to fit lots of luggage in this trunk, youâ€™re going to have to fold down the rear seats and use the pass-through into the cabin.
The Lexus RC 350 does a decent job for a V6-powered coupe when it comes to fuel economy but the Cadillac ATS (V6) and the BMW 440i do better in terms of fuel economy by a few miles per gallon in both the city and on the highway. The EPA rates the RC 350 at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
Observed: We saw an average of 25.8 mpg.
Distance Driven: 552 miles.
Driving Factors: We drove primarily on the highway. Our city driving was in heavy stop and go traffic. While we did a lot of highway driving, we never got over 26 mpg.
The 10-speaker premium audio system in the RC 350 is very good and provided rich, full-bodied sound to all areas of the cabin. If you would like an upgraded system, Lexus offers a Mark Levinson premium package for $2,550 that comes with 17 Clari-Fi High-efficiency speakers including a subwoofer. As good as that sounds, unless youâ€™re an audiophile, we donâ€™t see the need for it.