2019 Lexus RC F Review

Keeping the V8 grand tourer alive and well


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Marvelous naturally-aspirated engine is powerful and sonorous, unique style sets the car apart from the crowd, excellent sport seats are rich and supportive, beautiful carbon fiber pieces.
Negatives: Noticeably heavy, lousy infotainment controls, some weird interior styling elements.
Bottom Line: The RC F is unique automobile in the auto industry with its big V8 engine and futuristic styling. Though it's not street carver, what it does provide is comfortable and powerful straight-line grand touring in a uniquely designed fastback coupe. It's a potent gentleman's car that will likely never need to see the nether regions of a repair shop.
We applaud Lexus for building a big V8 sports car with luxury leanings that they knew would never sell in big numbers. Almost no one wants to touch the large two-door sports coupe except for European brands like BMW (8-Series), Mercedes-Benz (AMG GT), and Aston Martin (DB11). Lexus has the RC and the LC, which help puncutate the brand among its more consumer-friendly (and very popular) models. The RC F is the performance version, and now there's even a Track Edition, which incorporates some weight savings and performance enhancements. We drove the RC F in base trim for a week to see if the big coupe can still manage to impress us. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.7

 

The combination of a solid chassis, adaptive suspension, and a big naturally-aspirated V8 should make for a thrilling drive, bu the weight of the RC F impedes the experience. It is, however, a great grand tourer for the open road.

Ride Quality: The new standard adaptive suspension does wonders regardless of what you're driving on. The RC F does very well in everyday driving with zero complaints.

Acceleration: Under the hood there's a 5.0-liter V8 rated at 472 horsepower mated to an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. 0-60 comes in a little over four seconds, which is plenty fast. Downshifts are slow in automatic mode, but you can go to Sport+ and use the paddle shifters to overcome the transmission's shortcomings.

Braking: The big Brembo brakes bring the heavy RC F to a stop beautifully. The pedal feel is excellent, as is the stopping power. We never felt any brake fade no matter how aggressive our driving was.

Steering: The steering is responsive but lacks feedback. It is, however, pretty precise, and you can place the RC F in a turn with no problem.

Handling: The suspension is tuned for some spirited driving thanks to its firmness and adaptability, coupled with the big 19-inch wheels and tires. The fact that the car is heavy makes you feel it in the turns.

Technology

6.5

 

No one will ever accuse Lexus of making great infotainment systems, regardless of how advanced their vehicles are. The RC F might look futuristic, but the Enform system just seems parked in the land of decade-old tech. That being said, the RC F now gets a bigger screen.

Infotainment System: A larger 10.3-inch screen is now standard on the RC F, and the infotainment system now comes with Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, Alexa, Voice Command, and Google Voice. Too bad the touchpad's precision and feel are still sub-par.

Controls: Though there are physical audio knobs, the infotainment touchpad still sucks. It's too easy to overshoot your selection, distracting you from driving.

Styling

8.6

 

The RC and RC F have received some mild styling changes to the front and rear fascias, but for some reason they don't show up on our 2019 tester. The most noticeable changes include updates to the headlights and taillights that make it look more uniform. Our RC F still has the same look as the 2018. The changes improve the look and give the RC F a more fluid design.

Front: The big spindle grille gives the RC F a mean look and great presence. Some folks might not like it, but it's original.

Rear: The back end is a bit too busy for our liking, but it's certainly distinct with its offset stacked tailpipes and distinct taillights.

Profile: The long hood is very true to grand touring cars, and the deep brake vent gives the side view presence.

Cabin: The cabin is a mishmash of surfaces that don't exactly work well together, especially with the squarish center stack. The front seats are beautiful, but the dash protrudes too much, and the controls (buttons) are too small and look cheap.

Comfort

9

 

The RC F has a comfortable interior, at least for the front passengers. No one expects the back seats of a GT car to be spacious, and the RC F is consistent in that respect.

Front Seats: Big sport seats with the F logo get clad in perforated leather, and they are marvelously comfortable and supportive. We'd love to see seats like this in other sporty cars. Lexus truly spent their time and effort on these.

Rear Seats: Small and almost useless for adults. These are really just for kids and storage.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Other than the growl of the V8 piped in through the stereo system, the RC F is quiet and solid throughout.

Visibility: For a big sporty coupe with a sloping roofline, the RC F actually has decent visibility, despite the fact that the C-pillars are thick and the rear deck is tall.

Climate: The RC F's climate system works well in spite of the the layered menus in the infotainment system. The optional heated and cooled seats work very quickly.

Safety

9.9

 

Almost shockingly so, the RC and RC F score top marks, attaining the highest rating for safety.

IIHS Rating: The IIHS gave the RC the Top Safety Pick+ rating from its inception in 2015 all the way through 2018. It scored the same top marks in 2019 but has yet to receive the TSS+ rating. It scored "good" in all crash tests and also nailed all other categories.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The RC F comes with a fusillade of features in the Lexus Safety System+ that includes a Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beam headlights, and Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with a Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intuitive Park Assist, and a backup camera.

Storage/Cargo

5.7

 

Don't look to bring a lot with you when you drive in the RC F, but that's expected in this segment. The cabin is limited, as is the trunk space. You'll have to use the back seat for luggage when the trunk room runs out.

Storage Space: There's not much to speak of in the front row. Cupholders are the most immediately accessible, and a small armrest compartment work for small items. The angled tray just in front of the infotainment screen is a bit hard to use due to its location, and it's also easy to forget items are there.

Cargo Room: The small 10.1 cubic feet of space is actually usable due to its flat floor and large-ish opening. It can handle a few grocery bags but definitely not a golf bag.

Fuel Economy

6

 

The RC F is a thirsty beast due to its big-displacement V8, and that much more so when you put it in Sport+ mode like we did the majority of the time. We drove a mix of highway and local driving but couldn't hit the EPA city estimates, largely because we pushed it hard when the opportunity arose.

Observed: 15.7 mpg

Distance Driven: 133 miles

Audio

9.3

 

Our tester came with the somewhat expensive ($2,275) Mark Levinson system that has 17 speakers. It's a great system with big sound and power, well worth the upgrade. Bass is solid, and the clarity is excellent.



Final Thoughts

We like the styling changes in the 2019, despite the fact that we didn't get those changes. The RC F is a unique beast in the mainstream of near-luxury vehicles. The V8 is mellifluous, and power is on tap despite the RC F's weight. The car is comfortable, fast enough for most owners, and impeccably crafted. If you can get past the infotainment frustrations and some odd cabin design, the RC F presents a great option for those who want a fast, reliable, and unique grand tourer with presence.
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