First debuting in 2014, the Lexus RC has not evolved much since it came to market. For 2018, the RC is available in eight configurations with its 300, 300 F SPORT, 350, and 350 F SPORT variants each coming in rear- or all-wheel drive.
The RC is fighting an uphill battle on several fronts. For starters, though it’s only three years old, its interior already showing its age. Like the Toyota 86, the RC is a 2+2 but not a true four-seater. It’s not as fun to drive as the Mazda MX-5 Miata or as comfortable of a cruiser as the Mercedes-Benz SLC. The RC isn’t as spacious as the Infiniti Q60. Let’s look deeper.
2017 Lexus RC 350 exterior
On the outside and inside, the Lexus RC 350 fits in with the luxury automaker’s design scheme. Sharp angled headlamps and a smooth, shovel-like face greet opposing drivers. The strong beltline draws the eye toward the rear where the sharp angled tail lamps meet a stylized trunk that gives the illusion of speed.
2017 Lexus RC 350 performance
Powering the RC 350 is a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which achieves 308 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. These numbers should be big enough to make driving it fun. Though the engine is competent and capable, the power doesn’t equate to an inspiring drive. The car’s composed handling and accurate steering are the highlights of its performance.
Many of the factors that make other sports cars so likeable are missing in the RC. The Miata is fun to throw around corners on a winding road while the wind blows in your hair. The Infiniti Q60 has more inspiring acceleration. The exhaust in the Ford Mustang makes a nice rumble.
2017 Lexus RC 350 interior
In a word, the interior of the RC 350 is dated. Though it doesn’t vary much from the interior of Lexus’s ES and IS lines, the aesthetics are not up to par with what other luxury automakers offer. Hard plastics in the center stack aren’t a glossy black but rather a faded charcoal. The infotainment system displays cluttered information in fonts larger than is necessary. Using the touch pad controller is an exercise in patience.
Seating is comfortable and you can fit children who are middle schoolers in the back if you really need to. A hard center divider in the back seat means that transporting pets in a carrier is a balancing act. I get why the seating is designed like that- extra bolstering designed for keeping occupants in their seats as you take the car for an aggressive spin. Still, it’s not practical.
2017 Lexus RC 350 cargo
As you probably expect, the Lexus RC 350 doesn’t offer much cargo space, with its trunk among the smallest in its class. A 60/40 folding rear seat helps with storage configuration options but the front passenger seat doesn’t fold. Small item storage in the cabin is sufficient for the vehicle’s size.
2017 Lexus RC 350 safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the RC 350 high Good marks and its headlamps have earned an acceptable rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not tested the car.
The RC 350 isn’t loaded with the latest tech-heavy safety features, something that will likely change with any refresh coming to the lineup.
2017 Lexus RC 350 pricing
For this review, I drove the 2017 Lexus RC 350, which has a starting MSRP of $43,010. A few extras came on the car including a windshield deicer and headlamp cleaner ($220), LED foglamps ($410), 19-inch split five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels ($795), premium triple beam LED headlamps ($1,160), Luxury Package ($2,990), navigation system/remote touchpad controller/backup camera ($1,470), Intuitive Parking Assist ($500), premium paint ($595), dynamic radar cruise control with pre-collision system ($500), moonroof ($1,100), and cargo net/wheel locks/key glove/trunk mat ($260). Destination and delivery charges were $975 giving the car a total price tag of $53,895.
For that price, you can get a similarly equipped Mercedes-Benz SLC, the top tier Infiniti Q60, or two base model Mazda MX-5 Miatas.
2017 Lexus RC 350 final thoughts
A Big Mac without the special sauce is merely a cheeseburger. Without the F Sport package, the 2017 Lexus RC 350 is just a sports coupe that is missing its special sauce. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. The capable coupe just isn’t as fun or flirty as its competition, nor is it the best choice for comfort or convenience technologies.