2017 Lexus RC 300

2017 Lexus RC 300 Review

Unfortunately, the RC 300's performance doesn't live up to what its aggressive styling suggests.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Hampered by middling performance, the 2017 Lexus RC 300 falls well short of the benchmark set by many of its rivals. Yes, it's comfortable and stylish, but you'd be better served by other luxury sport coupes.

Also, controlling the navigation and entertainment features through the Remote Touchpad is an exercise in frustration. Further hurting the RC's chances of becoming a top pick is the lack of storage and cargo space. If all you're after is a stylish and comfortable luxury coupe, the RC 300 may satisfy. But overall we think other luxury sport coupes will deliver a better all-around experience.



what's new

The Lexus RC 300 is essentially unchanged for 2017.

we recommend

There aren't any traditional trim levels associated with the RC 300, but we suggest adding the optional F Sport package. Besides sporty cosmetic touches inside and out, it also adds an adaptive suspension, which helps improve the car's overall ride comfort and handling capabilities. By contrast, we recommend skipping the Dynamic Handling and Rear Steering option because in our opinion it makes the RC less enjoyable to drive.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Lexus RC 300 is a luxury sport coupe that represents the midlevel model for the RC lineup that starts with the RC 200t and is topped by the RC 350. Standard features are mostly identical among these variants, with the engine the most significant difference. The RC 300 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 (255 horsepower, 236 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. It's the only RC version that has all-wheel drive as standard.

Standard feature highlights include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch display, voice controls and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Also standard is Lexus Enform Service Connect, which provides access to vehicle status and maintenance alerts via a smartphone app.

A number of options packages are offered, although availability can vary depending on where you live. The Premium package adds ventilated front seats and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Luxury package includes those items plus automatic wipers, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable and heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and driver-seat memory settings. The All-Weather package offers headlight washers, windshield wiper de-icer, water-repellent front door windows and a supplementary electric cabin heater.

The Navigation package adds a console-mounted touchpad controller, a navigation system, upgraded voice controls and smartphone app integration (including Destination Search, Yelp, Pandora and iHeartRadio). The Navigation/Mark Levinson package adds a 17-speaker surround-sound audio system.

The F Sport package pads on appearance items such as a mesh grille and a unique front fascia along with substantive bits including 19-inch wheels, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, upgraded front brake pads and sport front seats. F Sport models also get perforated leather upholstery and trim, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat memory settings and a special instrument cluster. Stand-alone options include a sunroof, upgraded headlights, LED foglights, adaptive cruise control (bundled with a collision mitigation system), and front and rear parking sensors.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Lexus RC 350 Coupe with the F Sport package (3.5L V6 | 8-speed automatic | RWD). Note that although we have not yet evaluated the Lexus RC 300 that uses a smaller and less powerful engine than the RC 350, our findings here are broadly applicable to the RC 300. Since this test was conducted, the RC has received only minor revisions.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration5.0 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

2.5 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position4.5 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality4.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

driving

Unfortunately, the RC 300 F Sport is less than the sum of its parts. Acceleration is underwhelming for a luxury sport coupe, and it's not a particularly rewarding car to drive fast around turns.

acceleration

The RC 350 version we tested accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is about average for the class. But the AWD 300 is slower. Lexus claims it needs 7.3 seconds to reach 60 mph.

braking

The brake pedal provides excellent response without feeling grabby or abrupt in normal use. But in our simulated-panic stop, a RC 350 F Sport with summer tires stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet. That's disappointing, and we expect a RC 300 will be very similar.

steering

edmunds rating
The RC 350 F Sport we evaluated came with active four-wheel steering with optional variable-ratio electric-assisted power steering. It all sounds nifty, but in actual use, the car feels nervous in corners and difficult to predict or get used to. Thankfully, this option is not available on the RC 300.

handling

In theory, the optional chassis enhancements should provide superior handling, but the RC posts only mediocre handling evaluation numbers at our test track and confounded us (and the electronic stability-control system) on our twisty evaluation route.

drivability

Despite its steering and handling idiosyncrasies, the RC 300 is a very easy car to drive so long as you don't lean too hard on it. In highway or commute driving, it's quick and smooth.

comfort

edmunds rating
Even kids will find rear legroom lacking, but otherwise the RC 300 F Sport provides an exceptionally comfortable ride, above-average front seats and one of the quietest cabins available.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The F Sport's heated and ventilated soft-leather front sport seats are well contoured for body-hugging grip and road-trip comfort but could be a bit snug. The two rear buckets, also leather, have good shape, but there's little headroom and zero legroom.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
With its adaptive variable suspension, the F Sport offers an exceedingly sophisticated ride that envelops road imperfections with ease and poise. Dial it up, and it grows firmer without becoming harsh, making it better than most. We expect the RC 300 to ride similarly.

noise & vibration

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Whether idling at a stoplight, accelerating up to highway speeds or cruising at 70 mph, the RC 350 is one of the quietest cars in its class. Wind, road and engine noises are all minimal. We expect the RC 300 to be comparably quiet.

climate control

edmunds rating
Dual-zone climate controls are prominently located, clearly marked and easy to understand. The air vents put out a nice volume of air, and rear passengers have a pair of their own. The F Sport package adds heated and ventilated seats, and a heated steering wheel is optional.

interior

edmunds rating
The interior of the RC 300 is well-built but has some issues. User interfaces are frustrating at best, and the space is good up front but ultra-tight in back. There are few places to put things such as cellphones, the trunk is small, and many visibility aids cost extra.

ease of use

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It's remarkable how Lexus got the layout and electronics interface so wrong. From the terraced center stack and semi-responsive touch-sensitive temperature sliders to the finicky touchpad controller, it's an ergonomic disaster.

getting in/getting out

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Coupes are notoriously difficult because of their long doors, and so is this one. The front seats auto-slide to afford rear-seat access, but they are infuriatingly slow and threaten rear passengers' shins and feet upon return.

driving position

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Numerous seat adjustments and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with a fairly generous adjustment range made it easy for a wide variety of drivers to settle in comfortably at the controls with a clear view out over the hood.

roominess

edmunds rating
The RC 300 provides slightly above-average front room but by far the least room in the rear when compared with its Audi, BMW, and Mercedes coupe peers. Think of it as a 2+2 coupe with the comfort priority placed on the first 2 in that equation.

visibility

edmunds rating
Overall visibility is challenging, particularly because of the big rear blind spots. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise with frontal pre-collision system are all optional, but we think some of these should be standard.

quality

edmunds rating
As with any Lexus, the RC 300's build quality (door closure, leather, paint, and cabin isolation) is outstanding. Not a squeak or rattle, ever. Even the few plastic bits have the look and feel of high quality.

utility

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Considering the lack of storage for your personal items and the small trunk, the Lexus RC 300 trails the competition when it comes to utility.

small-item storage

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It lacks cubbies and nooks and has shallow bucket cupholders. A small center bin and narrow, hard-to-access door pockets are also problematic. The glovebox is merely adequate.

cargo space

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With a trunk volume of only 10.4 cubic feet, the RC 300 isn't the most cargo-friendly coupe in the class. Fortunately, the standard 60/40-split fold-down rear seats expand space.

child safety seat accomodation

Has two pairs of LATCH anchors at the bottom and three top-tether anchors along the top. Bottom LATCH anchors are tightly recessed between the seat cushions, though. Rear legroom is generous enough for most rear-facing seats to fit, but tall front occupants might still have to scoot up some.

technology

edmunds rating
Lexus' Remote Touchpad infotainment interface is simply one of the worst controllers we've experienced. It works much like a laptop trackpad, but it's very difficult to use while in motion. On the bright side, the display is crisp and offers a lot of features.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.