2017 Lexus RC 350

2017 Lexus RC 350 Review

Unfortunately, the RC 350's performance doesn't live up to the aggressive styling.
3.5 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Hampered by middling performance, the 2017 Lexus RC 350 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 350 may satisfy. But overall we think other luxury sport coupes will deliver a better all-around experience.



What's new for 2017

The Lexus RC 350 is essentially unchanged for 2017.

We recommend

There aren't any traditional trim levels associated with the RC 350, 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 350 is the most powerful version of the RC luxury sport coupe. It's supported by the less expensive RC 200t and RC 300 versions. Standard features are mostly identical among these variants, with the engine the most significant difference. The RC 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 (306 horsepower, 277 lb-ft of torque) paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission for rear-wheel-drive models. A six-speed automatic comes with all-wheel-drive versions.

Standard feature highlights include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, power front seats, heated seats (AWD only), premium vinyl upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch color 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 heated and ventilated front seats 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 (with a heated rim on AWD models) 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 with summer (RWD) or all-season (AWD) tires, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, upgraded front brake pads (RWD only) and sport front seats. F Sport models also get perforated leather upholstery and trim, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (with a heated rim on AWD models), driver-seat memory settings and a special instrument cluster.

Stand-alone options include a sunroof, upgraded headlights, LED foglights, variable-ratio steering with a four-wheel steering system (RWD F Sport only), a limited-slip differential with sport-tuned dampers (RWD F Sport only), 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). Since this test was conducted, the RC 350 has received only minor revisions.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5

Driving

3.0 / 5

Acceleration3.0 / 5
Braking3.0 / 5
Steering2.5 / 5
Handling3.0 / 5
Drivability5.0 / 5

Comfort

4.5 / 5

Seat comfort3.0 / 5
Ride comfort4.5 / 5
Noise & vibration5.0 / 5

Interior

2.5 / 5

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

Utility

3.0 / 5

Small-item storage3.0 / 5
Cargo space3.0 / 5

Driving3.0

Unfortunately, the RC 350 F Sport is less than the sum of its parts. It has peppy acceleration, but it's not quick in the segment. The optional four-wheel steering system adds unpredictability rather than precision. It has performance brake pads but takes longer to stop longer than any rival.

Acceleration3.0

Exhilarating and smooth, but not gobsmacking acceleration. It took 5.9 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is about average for the class.

Braking3.0

The F Sport includes special high-friction brake pads that provide excellent response without feeling grabby or abrupt in normal use. The car stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, though, which is poor for this class of car with summer tires.

Steering2.5

Our test F Sport had the optional active four-wheel steering and 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.

Handling3.0

In theory, the RC 350's optional chassis enhancements should provide superior handling, but it posted only mediocre numbers at our test track and confounded us (and the electronic stability-control system) on our twisty evaluation route.

Drivability5.0

Despite its steering and handling idiosyncrasies, the 2017 RC 350 F Sport is a very easy car to drive so long as you don't lean too hard on it. Under normal highway or commute driving, it's quick and smooth, and it's easy to park.

Comfort4.5

Even kids will find rear legroom lacking, but otherwise the RC 350 F Sport provides an exceptionally comfortable ride, above-average front seats and one of the quietest cabins available.

Seat comfort3.0

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

Ride comfort4.5

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.

Noise & vibration5.0

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 quite minimal.

Interior2.5

The interior of the RC 350 is well-built but has some issues. User interfaces are frustrating at best. 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 use2.0

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 out3.0

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.

Roominess3.0

The 2017 RC 350 provides slightly above-average front room, but by far the least roomy in the rear 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.

Visibility3.0

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.

Quality4.5

As with any Lexus, the RC 350'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.

Utility3.0

Considering the lack of storage for your personal items and the small trunk, the Lexus RC 350 trails the competition when it comes to utility.

Small-item storage3.0

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 space3.0

With a trunk volume of only 10.4 cubic feet, the RC 350 isn't the most cargo-friendly coupe in the class. Fortunately, the standard 60/40-split fold-down rear seats expand space.

Technology2.0

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.