Lexus built its reputation with highly competitive sedans, but taking on traditional sport luxury coupes is another matter altogether. The Lexus RC 350 seems to have all the right hardware, including a 306-horsepower V6 engine with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive and desirable performance options such as four-wheel steering and adjustable dampers.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the sporty bits, the RC 350 stumbles. Acceleration is quick on paper but just average compared to rivals, the high-performance brakes don't perform particularly well, and the four-wheel steering system makes the car feel more skittish rather than more planted. The RC 350 is facing some tough competition, and it doesn't have the necessary skills to compete.
Current Lexus RC 350
The RC 350 comes in a single trim level with a reasonable helping of creature comforts. Dual-zone climate control and a 10-speaker stereo system are on the standard equipment list, but if you want real leather, automatic wipers or built-in navigation, you'll have to delve into the option packages. With the RC 350's sporting intentions, we're sure many buyers will have interest in the F Sport package, which includes a stiffer suspension with adjustable dampers. There are other add-ons for rear-wheel-drive RC350s with the F Sport package, including a limited-slip differential, which we recommend, and a four-wheel steering system, which we do not.
All Lexus RC 350s are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque and a choice of rear- or all-wheel-drive. Cars with the former get an eight-speed automatic, while cars with latter get a six-speed. The EPA estimates the rear-wheel-drive RX 350's fuel economy at 22 mpg. In Edmunds testing, the RC 350 sprinted to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is average among its competitors.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the rest of the driving experience, the Lexus RC 350 doesn't live up to its hardware. The F Sport is fitted with special high-friction brake pads, and while its behavior under heavy braking was good, it 60-to-0 mph braking distance was longer than the competition despite its high-grip summer tires. We found the handing to be frustrating, with middling figures at the test track and not much fun to be had on our real-world evaluation route.
That's not to say that the Lexus RC 350 is without merit. We like the front seats, and the ride is exceptionally comfortable, though you might consider that faint praise for what is supposed to be a sporty car. Though we like the build quality of the interior, we're not crazy about the design. The ergonomics are odd, and we can't decide which we like less, the touchpad controller that runs the infotainment system or the touch-sensitive temperature sliders for the climate control system. Though the front seats are notably roomy, the back seats are more cramped than those in competing coupes, and the small trunk and lack of storage cubbies don't do the RC 350 any favors.
Used Lexus RC 350 Models
The first-generation Lexus RC 350 made its debut for the 2015 model year. 2016 brought the addition of optional limited-slip differential and adjustable dampers for the F Sport models, as well as enhanced smartphone connectivity for all models. The Lexus RC 350 was unchanged for 2017.
Read the most recent 2017 Lexus RC 350 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus RC 350 page.