What it is: The Lexus RC is a what Lexus deems a luxury coupe, and it is certainly a head-turner. The name, RC, stands for radical coupe, and with one glance at the RC, you can understand why. The front grille is the signature Lexus spindle which flows into aggressively shaped daytime running lamps and headlights. The Lexus spindle grille is contentious to some purchasers, perhaps traditional Lexus buyers, but they are competing for younger buyers that have looked at Audi or BMW after they retire their Camry when looking for something sportier.

The RC is offered in four engine configurations: the RC Turbo has a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo engine with 241 horsepower, the RC 300 has a 3.5-liter V6 with 255 horsepower, the RC 350 has the same 3.5-liter V6 but amped up to 306 horsepower, and the RC F comes with a 5.0-liter V8 with 467 horsepower. All are available as RWD, but the 300 and 350 are available with AWD. Why does Lexus offer the 300? I’m not really sure. My test model was the 306 horsepower version, and although the handling was superb, it’s just not enough power to back up the extreme looks of the car.

My test model was also equipped with the $4,105 F SPORT package, which changes the grille, adds 19-inch wheels, special steering wheel, shift knob, pedals, trim, and an adaptive sport suspension. You can put the car into S+ mode when you buy the F SPORT package and the car will actively dampen the suspension to the driving conditions to maintain the most grip possible. While most appropriate for a track, the system works extremely well. 

The other options my RC was equipped with were LED foglamps ($410), premium LED headlights ($1,160), Mark Levinson 17-speaker stereo system ($2,350), orange brake calipers ($300), intuitive park assist ($500), dynamic radar cruise control ($500), rear limited slip differential ($390), moonroof ($1,100), and four wheel steering system ($1,900). That’s $13,000 in options including the F Sport package and makes a very well rounded car. I think all are fairly priced and I particularly enjoyed the stereo system.

The interior is wonderful. Lexus has great attention to detail and it would be a pleasure to sit in this cabin everyday. The rear seat is effectively unusable, so only plan on setting grocery bags on top of the rear seats. It’s very easy to drive and see out of, which was surprising as coupes tend to have a huge rear pillar making a big blind spot. It didn’t handle potholes particularly well, but c’est la vie when you are driving on huge 19-inch wheels with ultra thin sport tires.

Price: $43,010 for base RC 350. $57,529 as-tested.
Upsides: Striking. Fantastic handling.
Downsides: Slow acceleration for a sports car.
Wrap-up: I think the RC is one of the sexiest vehicles on the road right now. It exudes performance and even if you don’t choose the available bright orange “Molten Pearl” paint job, the RC is going to stick out in just about any garage or parking lot. The battle that the RC has is that it’s very heavy. Lexus bills this as a “luxury coupe” and not a sports car, but the thing looks like a rocket ship. For comparison, Car and Driver magazine got it to run a 14.2 second quarter mile, but a base Ford Mustang runs it in 14.1 seconds. Ouch. Lexus does sell the RC F, with a 467 horsepower engine, so if you need real performance, you need to go that route even if it does start $20,000 higher than the 300 horsepower model (although only $8,000 higher than my loaded out RC 350 tester).

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.