2018 Lexus RC F

2018 Lexus RC F Review

Think of the RC F as a luxury car first and a performance car second and you should be satisfied.
6.6 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by James Riswick
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

As high-performance coupes go, the 2018 Lexus RC F is not among the best. The main issue with the Lexus RC F is its hefty curb weight: It's hundreds of pounds heavier than its competitors, which keeps it from being as energetic or agile. It just doesn't feel like the performance machine you might expect from its looks and the sweet-sounding 5.0-liter V8 firing away behind that Lexus grille.

But if all you want is a boldly styled luxury coupe with a big V8 engine, the RC F could be pretty appealing. That's especially true this year since it now comes with an adaptive suspension that should provide a smoother ride quality than previous RC Fs. Ultimately, though, there are a lot of excellent ways to spend your money at this price point, and no matter how you view it, the RC F remains an imperfect choice.



What's new for 2018

There are a variety of technology upgrades for 2018. The optional navigation system now comes with a larger 10.3-inch screen. The Lexus Safety System+ package is now standard, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

We recommend

The RC F comes in just one configuration, so picking one comes down to deciding which optional packages you want. We would recommend getting the Premium package for its appealing array of luxury features. There's less of a need to get the Performance package; it's pricey and its active differential imparts a synthetic feel to the RC F's handling. Skip the Navigation package, too. That package's Remote Touch interface is frustrating to use.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus RC F is the high-performance version of the Lexus RC coupe, which we review separately. Specific F version upgrades include a 5.0-liter V8 engine (467 horsepower, 389 pound-feet of torque), a specially tuned eight-speed automatic transmission, a limited-slip differential, adaptive variable suspension, Brembo upgrade brakes, and 19-inch forged alloy wheels. The RC F also gets special styling and sport seats. There is a single trim level that can be upgraded with a choice of several packages and stand-alone optional upgrades.

Standard equipment includes LED headlights, automatic high beams, auto-dimming mirrors, adjustable drive modes, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, a rearview camera, power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, simulated leather upholstery and a power-adjustable steering wheel.

Also standard are Safety Connect emergency communications (automatic collision notification, emergency assist button, stolen-vehicle locator), Lexus Enform Remote services (smartphone-based remote vehicle controls), the Lexus Display Audio tech interface (7-inch screen, knob controller), Scout GPS Link smartphone-based navigation system, a USB port, and a 10-speaker sound system that includes a CD player and HD and satellite radios.

The Premium package adds a speed-activated rear spoiler, blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert systems, automatic wipers, water-repellent side windows, parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, and carbon-fiber interior trim. The Performance package adds a rear torque-vectoring differential, a carbon-fiber roof and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler. The All-Weather package adds a windshield deicer, headlight washers and a heated steering wheel. The navigation system comes bundled with the Remote Touch interface (10.3-inch screen, touchpad controller), two USB ports, voice controls and a suite of infotainment apps. You can also add to that a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and six-CD/DVD changer.

Stand-alone options include upgraded LED headlights, parking sensors, a sunroof and leather upholstery.



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 F (5.0L V8 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Lexus RC F has received the notable addition of adaptive suspension dampers. Although our original findings about ride and handling have been revised, the rest remain broadly applicable.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall6.6 / 10

Driving

7.0 / 10

Acceleration7.5 / 10
Braking7.5 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability7.5 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.0 / 10
Noise & vibration8.0 / 10
Climate control7.0 / 10

Interior

7.0 / 10

Ease of use5.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out6.5 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility7.5 / 10
Quality8.5 / 10

Utility

5.5 / 10

Small-item storage5.0 / 10
Cargo space6.0 / 10

Technology

5.0 / 10

Audio & navigation6.5 / 10
Smartphone integration5.0 / 10
Driver aids5.5 / 10
Voice control6.0 / 10

Driving7.0

The numbers on the track don't match the way this car feels on the street. The RC F is some 500 pounds heavier than a BMW M4 and drives the part, so its 467-horsepower V8 is blunted to some extent. The transmission is slow to downshift, and the engine needs revs to thrive. Excellent brakes, though.

Acceleration7.5

No launch control and a system that penalizes brake-throttle overlap make launches tricky. Zero to 60 mph takes 4.6 seconds. Upshifts are fast if you've selected the right mode. Otherwise, acceleration is less aggressive, but it still sounds good. Low-end thrust trails that of turbocharged rivals.

Braking7.5

We experienced no fade during testing (the shortest stop from 60 mph was 110 feet) and found the firm pedal easy to modulate on both the track and the street. Very good.

Steering7.0

The quick-quick-quick steering takes some getting used to. On the street, we were never quite sure how much input would be required for certain corners and were constantly readjusting.

Handling6.5

On the track, the RC F nearly matches the BMW M4, but on the road, the heavyweight RC F suffers from understeer at virtually any speed, and its chassis is upset by imperfections. Competitors are more capable and rewarding.

Drivability7.5

In its sportiest mode, the RC F's eight-speed automatic upshifts quickly but suffers from erratic downshift speeds and rev-matching. Sometimes it matches revs; sometimes it simply slams the next gear down as the car lurches in response.

Comfort8.0

We haven't yet tested an updated RC F with its new adaptive suspension, so we can't assess whether the poor ride has been corrected. The seats are still exceptionally comfortable, and the cabin stays quiet at highway speeds.

Seat comfort8.0

The RC F's seats are extremely comfortable if they fit you. The fixed bolsters are tight, the lumbar adjustment is only two-way, and there's no adjustable thigh support. There's lots of room for tall drivers, but lateral space is less generous.

Noise & vibration8.0

One of the traditional Lexuslike bits of the RC F is its quietness. With the exception of the rowdy exhaust note on throttle and some sticky-tire-related road noise (expected for this class), everything's calm and collected on the inside.

Interior7.0

Design and materials are excellent, perhaps class-leading. Usability is poor, however, as is visibility. Space for passengers and their items is merely OK.

Ease of use5.0

The RC F is an ergonomic disaster, with only semiresponsive touch-sensitive temp sliders and the infuriating Remote Touch touchpad controller. (Thank goodness it's optional.) Simple tasks become distracting and frustrating.

Getting in/getting out6.5

Coupes tend to have unwieldy doors, and this one is no exception. It's thoughtful that the front seats automatically slide forward to afford rear-seat access, but they are infuriatingly slow and threaten rear passengers' shins and feet upon return. The fixed side bolsters don't help.

Driving position8.0

Though the sport seats lack adjustability relative to other cars in this price range, it is nevertheless easy to find a comfortable driving position in the RC F — even for taller drivers. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is power-adjustable.

Roominess7.0

The RC F provides above-average front room if you're narrow-bodied or have narrow feet. The rear seats are the least roomy in the segment. The cabin feels tight, not airy. We'd avoid the optional sunroof — it reduces headroom and further increases weight.

Visibility7.5

Visibility is challenging, especially with the rear blind spots. A rearview camera is standard. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors are optional.

Quality8.5

Take performance out of the equation and this feels like a $70,000 car. Beautiful materials, excellent workmanship. It feels solid and refined.

Utility5.5

Practicality takes a hit with the smallish trunk, limited cabin storage options and a fixed-in-place rear seatback.

Small-item storage5.0

It lacks cubbies and nooks and has shallow bucket cupholders, a small center bin, narrow and hard-to-access door pockets, and only an adequate glovebox. Even among sport coupes, the RC is poor in this regard.

Cargo space6.0

The 10.4-cubic-foot trunk is typical for a coupe. The RC F loses the 60/40-split folding back seat of its lesser RC stablemates and gets a small center pass-through instead.

Technology5.0

This cabin is behind the times when it comes to infotainment. The control interface is awkward and the native voice controls are subpar. There's no Apple Carplay or Android Auto functionality, and the screen graphics look old. But there is a nice suite of driver aids as standard equipment.

Audio & navigation6.5

The Remote Touch interface is infuriatingly bad. The target icons are easy to overshoot with the touchpad, requiring a lot of glance time. Even the screen graphics are dated. It's technically optional and the standard Display Audio is better, but most models on dealer lots have Remote Touch.

Smartphone integration5.0

Bluetooth pairing is intuitive and easy, and there's a USB outlet, auxiliary jack and accessory power. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available. Instead, the RC F includes Siri Eyes Free.

Driver aids5.5

There's a standard comprehensive suite of driver aids (lane keeping, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and high beams) in a segment where they're usually optional. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts are still optional.

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.