2018 Lexus RC 350

2018 Lexus RC 350 Review

The RC 350 has middle-of-the-road performance but is tops in comfort.
7.3 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 Lexus RC 350 is a comfortable and stylish 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. As a performance coupe, though, the RC 350 is a little disappointing.

The RC 350 is more powerful than the RC 300 version, and its smooth-revving V6 now makes a respectable 311 horsepower. That's good enough for the RC 350 to sprint from zero to 60 mph in about 5.9 seconds. But the reality is that most competing coupes with their turbocharged six-cylinder engines are quicker still. Another problem is the RC 350's heavy curb weight, which keeps the car's handling from being razor-sharp.

The 2018 RC 350 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 440i or Mercedes-AMG C 43 coupe.



What's new for 2018

For 2018, the RC 350 receives a slight bump in power, from 306 horsepower to 311 hp, while torque is up from 277 pound-feet to 280 lb-ft. A 10.3-inch navigation screen can be optioned, and a three-year Scout GPS link subscription is now standard.

We recommend

For the RC 350, it's at its best if you stick with the standard rear-wheel-drive configuration and add 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. Don't bother with the Variable Gear Ratio Steering option, though. The car's steering doesn't feel natural, and the RC is less enjoyable to drive because of it.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus RC 350 is the most powerful version of the RC luxury sport coupe. It's supported by the less expensive RC 300, which is reviewed separately. 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 (311 horsepower, 280 pound-feet 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-adjustable front seats, heated seats (AWD models only), simulated-leather upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, a 7-inch color display, voice controls, 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 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, a 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.

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 (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, blind-spot monitoring, variable-ratio steering with a four-wheel steering system (RWD F Sport only), a limited-slip differential (RWD 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 since this test was conducted, the RC has received only minor revisions.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.3 / 10

Driving

7.0 / 10

Acceleration7.0 / 10
Braking6.5 / 10
Steering6.0 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability9.0 / 10

Comfort

8.5 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.5 / 10
Noise & vibration9.0 / 10

Interior

6.0 / 10

Ease of use5.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out6.5 / 10
Roominess6.5 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality9.5 / 10

Driving7.0

Unfortunately, the RC 350 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.

Acceleration7.0

The previous RC 350 version we tested accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is about average for the class. This year's model is slightly more powerful. The all-wheel-drive 300 is slower, and Lexus says it needs 7.3 seconds to reach 60 mph.

Braking6.5

The brake pedal provides excellent response without feeling grabby or abrupt in normal use. But in our simulated-panic stop, an RC 350 F Sport with summer tires stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet. That's disappointing.

Steering6.0

The RC 350 F Sport we evaluated came with active four-wheel steering with optional variable-ratio electric power-assisted steering. It all sounds nifty, but in actual use, the car feels unsure in corners and difficult to predict or get used to.

Handling6.5

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.

Drivability9.0

Despite its steering and handling idiosyncrasies, the RC 350 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.

Comfort8.5

Even kids will find the 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 comfort7.0

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

Ride comfort8.5

With its adaptive variable suspension, the F Sport offers a sophisticated ride that smooths out road imperfections with ease. Dial it up, and it gets firmer without becoming harsh.

Noise & vibration9.0

The RC 350 is one of the quietest cars in its class whether idling at a stoplight, accelerating up to highway speeds or cruising at 70 mph. Levels of wind, road and engine noises are all minimal.

Interior6.0

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 use5.0

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 out6.5

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.

Driving position

The RC 350 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.

Visibility7.0

Overall visibility is challenging, particularly because of the big rear blind spots. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors are optional.

Quality9.5

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.

Utility6.5

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 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.