2018 Lexus RC 300

2018 Lexus RC 300 Review

The RC 300 looks cool but comes up short on performance. It's all bark and no bite.
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 Lexus RC 300 is a comfortable and stylish four-seat luxury coupe. It's a fine companion for both commuting and long-distance driving, and it offers all-wheel drive for enhanced traction in wet or snowy conditions. Beyond that, though, there's not much that we can point to as obvious RC 300 advantages.

Unlike other cars in this class, the RC 300 offers only modest performance. With an estimated 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.3 seconds, the standard RC 300 with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine lacks pep. The V6-powered, all-wheel-drive RC 300 can do the sprint to 60 mph in a more respectable 6.3 seconds. But at that point you might as well get the even more powerful 311-horsepower RC 350. Whichever powertrain you pick, the RC's handling is dulled by the car's beefy curb weight and its infotainment system disappoints.

The 2018 Lexus RC 300 wins some points for its smooth and quiet road manners. But we think you'll be happier overall with rivals such as the Audi A5, BMW 430i or Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe.



What's new for 2018

For 2018, last year's RC 200t (the turbocharged four-cylinder model) is now dubbed the RC 300. The all-wheel-drive RC 300 is the RC 300 AWD. It still has a V6 but is slightly more powerful this year with a total of 260 horsepower. A 10.3-inch navigation screen can be optioned while a three-year Scout GPS link subscription is now standard.

We recommend

Unless you absolutely need all-wheel drive, get the four-cylinder RC 300 since it's less expensive and more fuel-efficient. Most of the RC 300's options are worth getting if budget allows. Notable is the F Sport package. It makes the exterior styling a little sportier and adds an adaptive suspension, better brakes and options from the Premium package.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus RC 300 is a four-seat luxury sport coupe that's available in two different drivetrain configurations. The RC 300 is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine (241 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque) and drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive RC 300 AWD is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 (260 hp, 236 lb-ft) connected to a six-speed automatic. The RC 350, an even more powerful V6 version, is reviewed separately.

Standard RC 300 features include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights (with auto high beams), keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, power-adjustable front seats, simulated leather upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a 7-inch center display, and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Also standard is adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and Lexus Enform communication and remote services.

A number of option packages are offered, although availability can vary depending on where you live. The Premium package adds heated and ventilated front seats, auto-dimming side mirrors, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Luxury package includes those items plus automatic wipers, perforated leather upholstery, a power 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.

Other options include a navigation system (with a console-mounted touchpad controller, upgraded voice controls, a 10.3-inch display and smartphone app integration with Destination Search, Yelp, Pandora and iHeartRadio) and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system (must be ordered with the navigation system).

The F Sport package fits the RC with appearance items such as a mesh grille and a unique front fascia along with substantive bits including 19-inch wheels with summer tires, 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, blind-spot monitoring, a limited-slip differential (F Sport only), 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 optional 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.

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 all-wheel-drive 300 is slower. Lexus says the four-cylinder 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

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 unsure 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

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

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 a good shape, but there's little headroom and zero legroom.

Ride comfort

With its adaptive variable suspension, the RC 300 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.

Noise & vibration

Whether idling at a stoplight, accelerating up to highway speeds or cruising at 70 mph, the RC is one of the quietest cars in its class. Levels of wind, road and engine noise are all minimal.

Interior

The interior of the RC 300 is well-built but has some issues. User interfaces are frustrating at best, and 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

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

Getting in/getting out

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

Roominess

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

Overall visibility is challenging, particularly because of the big rear blind spots. Front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring are optional.

Quality

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

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

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

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.

Technology

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.