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2020 Lexus RC Review

An excellent predicted reliability rating can't help the 2020 Lexus RC escape from the bottom half of our luxury small car rankings. The RC isn’t particularly fun to drive, its cabin is cramped, and its infotainment controls are troublesome.

Pros & Cons

  • Long list of standard features
  • Excellent predicted reliability rating
  • Upscale cabin quality
  • Comfortable, composed ride
  • Underwhelming performance
  • Cramped rear seat and small trunk
  • Confusing infotainment controller
  • High starting price for class

New for 2020

  • Refreshed RC F model
  • RC F Track Edition joins lineup
  • Standard Android Auto

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Lexus RC's #13 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Small Cars category. Currently the Lexus RC has a score of 7.4 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 34 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.0
Performance: 6.6
Interior: 5.6
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Lexus RC?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Lexus RC a Good Car?

The 2020 RC is a fine luxury small car. Like many Lexus vehicles, it boasts a stellar predicted reliability rating and a refined interior. It also pampers occupants with a comfortable ride, and upper-end trims have powerful V6 and V8 engines.

The RC has more negatives than positives, however. It doesn't live up to its billing as a sporty coupe, with handling that's less engaging than many other cars in the class. The base engine merely gets the job done and doesn't impress. Across all RC models, fuel economy is poor for the class.

The second row in this four-seater is almost unusable for adults, and trunk space is among the smallest in the segment. Lastly, if you spring for the upgraded infotainment system, you'll be thwarted by a frustrating control setup.

Should I Buy the Lexus RC?

The RC comes with a long list of standard infotainment and driver assistance features, but it has one of the highest starting prices in the class, so we can't recommend buying it on the basis of value. Any way you look at it, there are simply better choices for a small, fun, upscale car.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 4 Series are similar in price to the RC, and they're available in convertible, sporty coupe, and roomy four-door models. The Benz has one of the nicest interiors in the class, while the BMW boasts dynamic handling.

Compare the RC, C-Class, and 4 Series »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus RC?

If you’re eyeing the performance-oriented RC F model, you’ll probably want to stick with a new RC. Weight reduction and a retuned chassis aim to give the RC F sportier driving dynamics, and its V8 engine gets 5 more horsepower. Additional mechanical improvements and some refreshed design elements make the 2020 RC F an attractive choice.

You’ll also want a new model if Android Auto is a must-have. It’s available in the RC for the first time, and it comes standard. Also new for 2020 is the limited-production RC F Track Edition. It's similar to the standard RC F, but it adds carbon fiber body pieces, a flamboyant spoiler, and unique interior trim.

If none of these features are important to you, consider shopping for an older model, which will likely be less expensive. The 2019 RC is a good option. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa became standard in this model, while Lexus retuned the suspension and refreshed the exterior design.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 RC, 2018 RC, and 2019 RC reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 RC »

We Did the Research for You: 34 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 34 Lexus RC reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 RC is the right new car for you.

This 2020 RC review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2015.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Lexus RC Cost?

The 2020 Lexus RC starts at $41,295, making it one of the most expensive vehicles in the luxury small car class. Upgrading from the base engine to one of two V6 powertrains or opting for all-wheel drive further increases the price of the car.

The performance-oriented Lexus RC F retails for $64,900, and the limited-production RC F Track Edition will set you back $96,800.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus RC Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus RC or BMW 4 Series?

The BMW 4 Series is a good choice in the luxury small car class for those seeking a fun, powerful car. Though this Bimmer costs a few thousand dollars more than the RC, it serves up bold handling without sacrificing comfort. Horsepower ratings are comparable across both cars' trim lineups, but the 4 Series' standard 248-horsepower four-cylinder feels more responsive than the RC's 241-horsepower mill, and the 320 horses in the 4 Series 440i are more thrilling than either of the V6 options in the RC.

If you like the RC for its coupe styling, you'll also want to consider the 4 Series coupe. The latter has several more cubic feet of trunk space than the RC. Check out the four-door 4 Series Gran Coupe if you need a roomier second row and rear doors. BMW's iDrive infotainment system is more intuitive than Lexus' offering, but the 4 Series doesn't offer Android Auto at all.

Which Is Better: Lexus RC or Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, this Benz beats out the RC in trunk space and fuel economy, but it still comes up about average for the class in those regards. Both of these cars have so-so handling and frustrating infotainment controls. Like the RC, the Mercedes C-Class coupe has dismal rear-seat passenger space.

Where the C-Class sticks out in this segment is with its opulent interior and plush ride, and both top what the RC musters. The C-Class offers four capable engine choices, including high-powered Mercedes-AMG variants. This Mercedes may not be the highest-rated luxury small car, but it's incredibly appealing as a total package and a better buy than the RC.

Compare the RC, 4 Series, and C-Class »

RC Performance

RC Engine: Several Choices

The 2020 Lexus RC 300 comes standard with a 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission round out this drivetrain. There's enough power under the hood for comfortable cruising or daily driving, but this engine doesn't do much to create a sports car experience. The eight-speed automatic transmission is fairly responsive and doles out timely shifts.

The Lexus RC 300 with all-wheel drive gets a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. It feels livelier than the base mill despite a relatively nominal increase in horsepower.

A 311-horsepower V6 engine propels the Lexus RC 350. Rear-wheel-drive models have the eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive models come with the six-speed. If you're looking for the best combination of performance and value in the RC lineup, the RC 350 is the trim you want.

The Lexus RC F and RC F Track Edition both boast a 472-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. This power plant comes through with the thrilling acceleration you want from a sports coupe, and it does it with a throaty exhaust note. The RC F can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Thanks to weight savings achieved through carbon fiber body parts, the RC F Track Edition does that sprint in 3.96 seconds, according to Lexus.

RC Gas Mileage: Among the Worst

The 2020 RC gets meager fuel economy for a luxury small car. The standard rear-drive RC 300 gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. With all-wheel drive, the RC 300 returns 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The rear-wheel-drive RC 350 gets 20/28 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel-drive trim gets 19/26 mpg city/highway. The 2020 Lexus RC F comes in at 16/24 mpg.

RC Ride and Handling: Looking for Fun

Lexus might prefer that you think of the RC as prioritizing sporty handling over a comfortable ride, but the inverse is true. This coupe actually takes bumps in the road with ease, and it delivers a pleasant driving experience.

The flip side is that the RC ultimately isn't as engaging as many rivals are. It offers a decent amount of feedback from the road and poised body control, but it lacks the fun element. If you prioritize agility, turn your attention to the F Sport or RC F trims.

The RC 300 F Sport and 350 F Sport feature a sport-tuned adaptive suspension and performance brakes, while a Torsen limited-slip differential and F Sport lowering springs are available. If you get the 350 F Sport with rear-wheel drive, you can also opt for rear-wheel steering and variable gear ratio steering.

The RC F comes standard with a limited-slip differential, an adaptive suspension, an upgraded drive mode selector, and Brembo brakes. A torque-vectoring differential is available.

Read more about performance »

RC Interior

How Many People Does the RC Seat?

The Lexus RC is a luxury coupe that seats four people. Its ethos as a driver's car is evident in the highly sculpted front seats that keep you in place during spirited cornering. They also remain comfortable for long drives, and standard power adjustments – 10 for the driver, eight for the front passenger – make it easy to find an ideal position.

Forward visibility over the hood is good, but thick rear pillars lead to some noticeable blind spots. Additionally, taller drivers and front passengers will probably wish they had a little more headroom.

Despite a sporty profile, the RC doesn't sit too low to the ground, so it's easy to get in and out of the front seats. With only two doors, entry to the rear is difficult, and accommodations there are very cramped. Even average-sized adults likely won't have enough space in the back.

RC and Child Car Seats

The RC has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the top of rating of Good for ease of use. As in many luxury cars, the lower anchors are located behind plastic flaps at the base of the seatback cushion. That means they're easy to find and access.

RC Interior Quality

The 2020 RC has a sharp, sporty, and modern interior. All cabin materials are high quality, and you can opt for cool touches like carbon fiber accents. Even the standard NuLuxe synthetic leather upholstery is impressive and supple.

RC Cargo Space

With just 10.4 cubic feet of space, the RC's trunk is one of the tiniest in the luxury small car class. However, it can hold a few suitcases or carry-on bags. The trunk opening is wide, and the interior space is deep and squared off. A standard 60/40-split-folding rear seat lets you transport long, wide items.

It's worth noting that the performance-oriented RC F and Track Editions have a fixed rear seat that doesn’t fold. An optional package for these models supplies a small pass-through between the back seats.

RC Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The RC comes with a decent list of standard features, including an infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Android Auto notably joins the equipment list for this year, having been previously unavailable in the RC.

The base setup is easy to use, with a physical knob and buttons that control most on-screen functions. However, the screen is small and set far back on the dashboard, so it can be difficult to see.

An optional system with a 10.3-inch screen earns derision for being one of the most hard-to-operate interfaces on the market. You have to use a touchpad, similar to those on a laptop, to move a cursor and interact with the screen. It's tricky to use while driving because the pointer isn't always accurate.

Read more about interior »

RC Reliability

Is the Lexus RC Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Lexus RC an excellent predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five.

Lexus RC Warranty

Lexus covers the RC with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

RC Safety

RC Crash Test Results

The 2020 Lexus RC earned the top rating of Good in all six tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The RC also earned the highest rating of Superior for the effectiveness of its standard front crash prevention features.

At the time of writing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the 2020 Lexus RC.

RC Safety Features

The RC comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ bundle of driver assistance features. This package includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. A rearview camera is also standard.

Optional active safety technology includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and front and rear parking sensors.

Read more about safety »

RC Dimensions and Weight

The Lexus RC is 15.4 to 15.5 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,737 to 3,902 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Lexus RC Built?

Lexus builds the 2020 RC in Japan.

Which Lexus RC Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Lexus RC is available in six trim levels: RC 300, RC 350, RC 300 F Sport, RC 350 F Sport, RC F, and RC F Track Edition. The main difference between models is the powertrain, as Lexus offers combinations of four engines, two transmissions, and rear- or all-wheel drive.

The rear-wheel-drive RC 300 and 300 F Sport models have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. RC 300 models with all-wheel drive have a V6 engine and a six-speed automatic. The RC 350 has an even stronger V6 engine, while the high-performance RC F and RC F Track Edition both have a V8.

F Sport trims boast performance enhancements like an upgraded suspension and brakes, along with enhanced styling.

Lexus RC 300

The 2020 Lexus RC 300 starts at $41,295. A 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive are standard.

The RC also comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and a rearview camera. The standard infotainment system includes a 7-inch screen, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a 10-speaker stereo.

Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

For $1,645, you can add a package that includes a 10.3-inch infotainment screen and navigation. You can also bundle those features with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound stereo for a total of $2,725.

The $2,390 Premium package adds heated and ventilated front seats, power-folding outside mirrors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

Notable individual options include front and rear parking sensors ($500), a moonroof ($1,100), LED headlights ($1,160), a heated steering wheel ($150), and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound stereo ($1,080).

The all-wheel-drive version of the RC 300 costs $43,985. It features a 260-horsepower V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Heated front seats are standard in this model.

Lexus RC 300 F Sport

The Lexus RC 300 F Sport retails for $46,365. It comes with all of the base model's standard features, as well as the contents of the Premium package. The F Sport model also includes a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, performance brakes, front sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, unique interior trim and exterior styling, and performance instrumentation and gauges.

Additional options include a Torsen limited-slip differential ($390) and F Sport lowering springs ($660).

The RC 300 F Sport with all-wheel drive costs $48,540.

Lexus RC 350

The Lexus RC 350 offers a 311-horsepower V6 engine and a cold-air intake. Prices start at $44,225 for rear-wheel-drive models and $46,390 for those with all-wheel drive. Its features list largely mirrors that of the RC 300.

Lexus RC 350 F Sport

The RC 350 F Sport features the powertrain of the 350 and the upgrades of the RC 300 F Sport. Rear-wheel-drive models start at $49,295, and all-wheel-drive models are $50,905.

In the rear-wheel-drive trim, you can get rear-wheel steering and variable gear ratio steering for $1,900.

Lexus RC F

With a starting price of $64,900, the Lexus RC F comes with a 472-horsepower V8 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Standard features include a Torsen limited-slip differential, an adaptive suspension, a speed-activated rear wing, launch control, an upgraded drive mode selector, Brembo brakes, and performance instrumentation.

The RC F's optional Premium package ($5,350) adds leather upholstery, driver's seat memory settings, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a rear-seat center armrest with a trunk pass-through.

You can spend $11,400 for the Performance package, which includes all of the above features, as well as carbon fiber interior trim and a carbon fiber roof, rear wing, and other body pieces. A torque-vectoring differential is available for $1,250.

Lexus RC F Track Edition

The new Lexus RC F Track Edition starts at $96,800. It features a fixed rear wing, carbon fiber and Alcantara interior trim, a titanium exhaust, and carbon fiber body pieces.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2020 Lexus RC specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Lexus RC is an appealing luxury small car, with an excellent predicted reliability rating, a refined interior, and a wide array of in-car technology, but a high base price will probably drive you away. Your money is better spent on rivals that deliver sportier handling or offer more space.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Lexus has a refined ride quality and a spacious front seat that make it more of a grand tourer than a corner carver. Its quirky infotainment system and cramped back seat are offset by an array of desirable features and standard driver assists. While the 2020 RC will disappoint ardent enthusiasts, it'll satisfy drivers seeking comfort over sport." -- Car and Driver
  • "The comfy seats and sweet-sounding engine are definite highlights. Plus, the sleek and hunkered-down look is distinctive. But driven aggressively, the RC F is ultimately a little disappointing, and daily driving can seem like a punishment due to the compromised utility, driver aids and infotainment." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2020 Lexus RC coupe is a low-slung 2-door with a long hood, short deck and unmistakable Lexus styling. Intended to menace European coupes like the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series, the RC packs the muscle and moves to worry the Germans, although both the Audi and BMW offer a more practical rear seat and cargo hold. A better comparison might be the Infiniti Q60 or the more expensive Jaguar F-Type." -- Kelley Blue Book


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2020 Lexus RC

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