The Lexus RC isn't our favorite performance coupe, and the RC 300 may be the least interesting of the lineup. This is the middle child of the family, sandwiched between the RC 200t and RC 350 (reviewed separately), and as such lacks the low price of the RC 200t and the acceleration of the RC 350. All that might be fine if the RC was a sharp handler, but it isn't. Compared to other sport coupes, the Lexus RC 300 simply isn't very inspiring to drive.
There are some points in the RC 300's favor. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, which makes it a great foul-weather friend. With supportive front seats and a smooth, quiet ride, it's one of the more comfortable coupes on the road. Then again, the RC 200t delivers most of these attributes (except all-wheel drive) at a lower price. When you take into account the Lexus RC 300's slow acceleration, cramped back seat, questionable ergonomics and lack of driver appeal, it's easy to see why we're hesitant to recommend it.
Current Lexus RC 300
The RC 300 is sold in a single trim level. Standard equipment is similar to what's offered in other RCs (reviewed separately), including dual-zone climate control, imitation leather upholstery and heated power front seats. The RC 300 is the only member of the lineup to get all-wheel drive as standard. One popular option is the F Sport package, which adds an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, upgraded front brake pads and deeply bolstered front seats with perforated leather upholstery. All-wheel drive means the RC 300t cannot be had with Lexus' four-wheel-steering system, but that's a good thing, as we think it actually detracts from the RC's handling.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 tuned for 255 horsepower (as opposed to 306 in the RC 350). We haven't timed an RC 300 to 60 mph, but Lexus claims a 6.3-second run, 0.4 second slower than our recorded time for the RC 350. That's quick, but not remarkable compared to other cars in this class. The EPA estimates the RC 300's fuel economy at 21 mpg combined, identical to the more powerful RC 350. Like other RC models, the RC 300 requires pricier premium fuel.
In terms of handling, we haven't been very impressed by any of the RC models. The driving experience simply isn't as rewarding as in competing coupes. We're particularly puzzled by the high-performance brakes, which feel good but delivered longer-than-average stopping distances in the RC 350 we track-tested. The RC 300's one saving grace is its ride quality, which is comfortable and quiet. That's commendable, but we're not sure it's what most people are looking for as the standout feature in a sport coupe.
We normally are rather fond of Lexus interiors, but the RC doesn't live up to our expectations. The design is nice enough, but the ergonomics are subpar and the controls are difficult to use. From the touch-sensitive slider bars to control cabin temperature to the touchpad controller for the infotainment system, it seems as if Lexus ignored the fact that people have to use the controls while barreling down the highway at 70 mph. A small back seat, tiny trunk and dearth of storage cubbies further limit the RC 300's appeal.
Used Lexus RC 300 Models
The RC 300 joined the RC family in 2016 as a new model, and it was unchanged for 2017.
Read the most recent 2018 Lexus RC 300 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus RC 300 page.