2017 Lexus RC F Review

This is the gentleman's grand touring car


Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer



Positives: Fantastic to drive, strong naturally-aspirated V8, excellent seats, a true four-seater, aggressive but not over-the-top styling.
Negatives: Too heavy to compete with top rivals, no manual transmission, difficult to use infotainment system.
Bottom Line: The RC F is a true GT car. It's powerful, comfortable, fun to drive, and wonderful to look at. It's not as hardcore of a sports car as some of its competitors, but if you don't plan on flogging your sports coupe on a racetrack, the model delivers in many ways.
We drove the recent iteration of the Lexus RC 350 and found that car to be thoroughly enjoyable. However, we noted that it lacks the speed of a true sports car. That’s where the RC F comes into play. The RC F packs a 5.0-liter V8 to the tune of 467 hp. It’s a step down from the modern and wildly unique Lexus LC500, but the RC F isn’t in a completely different world. We had a chance to drive the 2017 Lexus RC F for a week to see just how good it really is. No 2018 test vehicle was available at the time, and there have been some minor changes made. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

9.5

 

The RC F provides a unique sports car experience that isn't as harsh as some competitors. It’s fast, smooth, and fun to drive. You could take it to the race track, but you’d likely be more comfortable and satisfied on a curvy mountain road. Newer 2018 models get additional drive modes, including a custom setting that provides drivers with more customization.

Ride Quality: Adaptive suspension was added for 2017. In Comfort, Eco, or Sport mode the ride is smooth and compliant over most road imperfections. Put the car in Sport+ mode and everything tightens up. You feel the bumps easily. Still, we wouldn’t necessarily call it harsh.

Acceleration: The naturally-aspirated V8 makes 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. That’s good enough for a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds.

Braking: The large Brembo brakes do a good job of slowing down and stopping the vehicle, but the car weighs over two tons, which means it doesn’t stop as fast as its main competitors. The brake pedal is progressive with no dead spots.

Steering: The adaptive electronic steering is well-calibrated and precise enough for regular driving in Eco and Comfort mode. In Sport and Sport+ mode, it’s a lot more precise and heavier. Still, there’s not tons of feedback from the road.

Handling: The RC F, being such a heavy car, leans more than we expected in the corners, but it has plenty of grip. It’s a lot of fun and confidence inspiring on a twisty road.

Technology

6.4

 

Lexus struggles in the infotainment department. The RC F’s controls are difficult to use, and the system lacks features it should have. A car this good to drive shouldn’t have a system this embarrassing. Luckily, Lexus is adding updates for the 2018 model year, including an available larger 10.3-inch screen and more features, such as Wi-Fi and Enform Destination Assist.

Infotainment System: The system comes with a 7-inch screen, easy to understand layout, and our tester had navigation. The screen could be brighter and graphics better, and the system lacks features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Controls: Actually using the system is difficult due to the company’s terrible touchpad controller. It’s hard to use and feels downright dangerous in a car this fast. The dash buttons aren’t much better because they’re too small. We found ourselves using the steering wheel controls as much as possible.

Styling

9.2

 

The RC F looks like the kind of car a futuristic Samurai warrior would drive. It’s polarizing, but it's attention-getting and different from the rest of the sports coupe pack. The hood vents, fender vents, and body on the car let you know that this thing means business.

Front: The front is dominated by the Lexus Spindle grille, to either side the tapered headlights give the car an aggressive look. The barb-shaped running lights complete the front end.

Rear: Like with the GS F, the RC F has the awesome offset stacked quad exhaust. The car’s taillights protrude above the wide curves of the bumper. The rear is as menacing as the front.

Profile: The RC F has classic GT car proportions mixed with modern styling elements. This is extremely evident from the side of the car. We love the way the character lines that run down the side work with the front fender vents to give the RC F a kind of fluid look. This is the RC F’s best angle.

Cabin: The cabin is looks great with several different materials working well together to create a modern interior. The leather sport seats, look inviting and track ready, and the analog clock in the center of the dash adds a bit of elegance to the entire setup.

Comfort

8.9

 

The RC F is a comfortable vehicle for two, and a usable vehicle for four people. If you never have to move more than yourself and a single passenger, its seats and cabin are pure bliss.

Front Seats: Lexus makes some of the most comfy seats in the business. The leather-trimmed sport seats are well-shaped and 10-way adjustable. They cradle you almost perfectly whether you’re cruising down the highway or enjoying the esses of a favorite road.

Rear Seats: The rear seats bring similar levels of support and bolstering, but they lack the legroom and headroom the front seats get. They are usable for short trips. We had four people in the car, and the rear seat passengers didn’t complain too much.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin of this car keeps out all but the loudest of noises. Lexus is known for crafting solidly built machines and the RC F is no exception.

Visibility: Seeing out of most coupes is a pain. The RC F does better than many other two-door vehicles thanks to its well-placed and not too thick pillars, but it’s not as easy to see out of as other vehicle types. The rearview camera helps a lot when parking.

Climate: The automatic dual-zone climate control system cools off or heats up the cabin quickly. Our tester came with the optional heated and ventilated seats, which were powerful and fast to work as well.

Safety

9

 

The Lexus RC on which the RC F is based does excellent in safety testing. While the RC F specifically hasn’t been tested, it’s safe to say that it would perform similarly. Also, for 2018, the model recieves more standard safety equipment.

IIHS Rating: The IIHS gave the Lexus RC a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Lexus puts a fair amount of safety equipment on the RC F, including Lexus Enform Safety Connect, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency button, and roadside assistance. For 2018, the RC F gets Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam, and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control as standard equipment.

Optional Tech: There’s also some optional equipment you can purchase. Our tester came with the following: Pre-Collision System with Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intuitive Park Assist, rain-sensing wipers, and auto-dimming mirrors.

Storage/Cargo

6.6

 

You won’t be carrying a lot of stuff in the RC F. The trunk is on the smaller size, even for the segment, and the interior storage options aren’t plentiful.

Storage Space: There’s a small space under the armrest, two cup holders, door pockets, and the small glove box. Other than that, you don’t get anything.

Cargo Room: The trunk has a mere 10.1 cubic feet of space. That’s enough for a couple of small carry-on suitcases. Beyond that, you’re looking at tossing things in the back seat.

Fuel Economy

6.3

 

You don’t expect a naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 to be miserly when it comes to fuel consumption, but the RC F’s mill seems to revel in disposing of fuel. We spent most of our time on the highway and didn’t get up to the EPA estimates.

Observed: 21.5 mpg.

Distance Driven: 344 miles.

Driving Factors: When we weren’t cruising on the highway we drove the car often in Sport mode. On the highway, which was about two-thirds of the time, we drove in Normal or Eco mode.

Audio

9.7

 

The optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is part of a $2,550 package, but it’s worth it. The system is excellent, providing rich and full-bodied sound to all areas of the car. It sounds awesome at any volume, too. That said, we did not get a chance to test the 10-speaker base audio system.



Final Thoughts

The RC F is a car that makes perfect sense for the right buyer. It’s a fantastic grand touring car. If you don’t plan on taking it to the track all that much, you’re going to be very happy with it. The infotainment system is difficult to use, but the car’s driving characteristics, comfort, and undeniable style make up for its shortcomings. Hardcore sports car enthusiasts will lean more towards the BMW M4, but the RC F is the smooth and easy-to-live-with car you’d be crazy not to seriously consider.
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