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MSRP: $41,145 - 64,750

Rankings & Research

The 2019 Lexus RC ranked #13 in Luxury Small Cars. Currently the Lexus RC has a score of 8.2 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 31 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.0
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.1
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2019 Lexus RC Review

Despite an excellent predicted reliability rating and a high-end cabin, the 2019 Lexus RC can't crack the top half of the luxury small car class. It’s a good car, but most rivals have nimbler handling and more cargo space.

Pros & Cons

  • Classy cabin
  • Lots of standard features
  • Excellent predicted reliability rating
  • Some rivals have more athletic handling
  • Small trunk

New for 2019

  • Retuned suspension
  • Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa introduced
  • Refreshed exterior styling

Is the Lexus RC a Good Car?

Although it has a mediocre ranking, the Lexus RC is a good small luxury coupe. Regardless of its trim level, the RC boasts a richly appointed cabin, pleasant ride quality, and plenty of tech and safety features. It also upholds Lexus' repuation for above-average predicted reliability ratings. However, this is a highly competitive class. The RC has sporty intentions, but a number of rivals feel more engaging on the road. Many other luxury small cars are also more fuel-efficient and have larger trunks or more rear-seat space.  

Should I Buy the Lexus RC?

The Lexus RC has many appealing traits, such as its upscale cabin, lengthy features list, and silky smooth ride. However, its starting price of $41,145 is a little higher than many of its rivals' prices. The Lexus IS sedan has a similarly nice interior but adds more room for cargo and rear-seat passengers, and it has a lower starting price of $38,310. The BMW 2 Series also starts at lower price, and it’s one of the most athletic cars in its class.

Compare the RC, IS, and 2 Series »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus RC?

The 2019 RC belongs to a generation that launched for the 2015 model year. For 2019, Lexus retuned the RC’s suspension, updated its exterior styling, and added Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa smartphone connectivity to the standard features list.

Those are some big updates for 2019, but if you can do without them, consider saving thousands of dollars with an older vehicle. There are a couple of changes to keep in mind with used RC models. For 2018, the RC gained a suite of standard safety features and a Wi-Fi hot spot, and the 2017 model saw no major changes.

To research used RC models, read our 2016, 2017, and 2018 Lexus RC reviews. If you decide that an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 RC »

We Did the Research for You: 23 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. Instead, we analyze hard data such as crash test results and reliability ratings, as well as the opinions of the automotive press. This Lexus RC review draws on applicable research and data from all models in the RC's current generation, which extends from the 2015 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. We care about cars, but we care more about providing useful consumer advice. To ensure our impartiality, an independent party handles our advertising, and our editorial team doesn’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Lexus RC Cost?

The base Lexus RC with rear-wheel drive has a starting MSRP of $41,145. With all-wheel drive and a V6 engine, the base trim starts at $43,835. Those figures mark the RC as one of the more expensive vehicles in the class, though it’s in the neighborhood of rivals such as the BMW 4 Series. The high-end Lexus RC F starts at $64,750.

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

Lexus RC Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus RC or Audi A4?

The Audi A4 is one of the best luxury small cars you can buy. It has more trunk and rear-seat space than the Lexus, as well as higher fuel economy estimates. The Audi also boasts a sporty and comfortable ride, and its well-insulated cabin features an infotainment system that is easier to use than the one in the Lexus. Though the A4 doesn't match the RC's excellent predicted reliability rating (it gets a 3.5 out of five, compared to 4.5 for the Lexus), you can scoop up an A4 for less money. 

Which Is Better: Lexus RC or Lexus GS?

The Lexus GS is a luxury midsize car. As such, it has more passenger and cargo room than its smaller sibling. It’s also a sedan as opposed to a coupe. Otherwise, these vehicles are similar. You'll get an opulent cabin, very high predicted reliability, and plenty of standard safety features with either Lexus, but both also offer the tricky Remote Touch controller as an option. Each Lexus has a performance-oriented trim with a brutish V8 engine – the RC F and the GS F. With a base price of $46,610, the GS costs a bit more. However, it’s the better choice if it fits in your budget, . The GS not only has more cabin space and two extra doors, but it also feels more athletic than the RC without sacrificing ride comfort.

Compare the RC, A4, and GS »

RC Interior

How Many People Does the RC Seat?

This two-door coupe seats four people on synthetic leather upholstery. The front seats are comfortable and spacious, but like in many coupes, the confining rear seats are not suitable for taller adults. Power-adjustable front seats come standard while genuine leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, front sport seats, and a heated steering wheel are available.

RC and Car Seats

The RC has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors in the rear seats. The whole setup is easy to use.

RC Interior Quality

This Lexus has a gorgeous interior. Soft-touch surfaces and high-quality materials abound.

RC Cargo Space

With 10.4 cubic feet of trunk space, the RC has less space than most rivals, including the BMW 2 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan.

RC Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include 7-inch display, a 10-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, satellite radio, HD Radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyes Free, and the Lexus Enform app suite. There are also a number of upgrades for the RC, such as a moonroof, a 10.3-inch split-screen display with a built-in navigation system and Lexus’ Remote Touch controller, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround-sound stereo.

The 7-inch screen is set far back in the dash, making it hard to see. The larger 10.3-inch screen is easier to see, but it comes with the Remote Touch controller, which can be frustrating to use. Apple CarPlay is standard, but Android Auto is not available. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

RC Performance

RC Engine: Four Punchy Choices

The 2019 Lexus RC has four powertrains to choose from. The base rear-wheel-drive RC 300 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower. All-wheel-drive RC 300 models are powered by a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. The RC 350 uses this same V6 engine but crank output up to 311 horsepower. The RC F is the high-performance model of the lineup, featuring a V8 engine that puts out 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque. RC models with RWD have an eight-speed automatic transmission, while AWD models have a six-speed automatic.

The base inline-four engine is more than adequate for daily commuting, and the V6s amp up power and acceleration even further. The RC F has an eye-catching zero-to-60 acceleration time of 4.4 seconds.

RC Gas Mileage: Less Than You’d Hope

With the base engine and RWD, this luxury coupe earns an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Most rivals cost less at the pump, including the BMW 2 Series coupe and the Audi A4. The RC F returns 16 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway, which will cost you about the same amount per year as the larger Lexus GS F, which shares an engine with the RC.

RC Ride and Handling: Tranquil Ride

The 2019 Lexus RC is sportier than other Lexus cars, but a number of class rivals are more athletic. The Lexus RC F adds a few performance enhancements, such as an adaptive suspension and performance brakes, but its ride isn’t as comfortable. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

Read more about performance »

RC Reliability

Is the Lexus RC Reliable?

The 2019 RC receives a great predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Lexus RC Warranty

Lexus covers this vehicle 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 Lexus RC the highest score of Good in all six individual crash tests. The car also recieved the best rating of Superior for the effectiveness of its front crash prevention features. 

RC Safety Features

Every RC model comes with a rearview camera and the Lexus Safety Suite+ that includes a pre-collision warning and braking system, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert are available.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus RC Model Is Right for Me?

Lexus offers the 2019 RC in four trim levels: RC 300, RC 350, F-Sport, and RC F. The biggest difference between these trims relates to their powertrains rather than features lists. RC 300 and 300 F Sport models with rear-wheel drive have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. RC 300 models with all-wheel drive have a V6 engine. All RC 350 coupes have an even stronger V6 engine, and the brawny RC F has a V8 engine. RWD coupes have an eight-speed automatic transmission, while AWD coupes use a six-speed automatic.

Most shoppers should look to either a RC 300 AWD or RC 350 trim. That way, they’ll get the more potent V6 engine without breaking the bank. Lexus also offers a few packages to add more luxury or performance features.

Lexus RC 300

The Lexus RC 300 has a starting MSRP of $41,145. For that price, the RC comes with a 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. You could also buy the RC 300 with a V6 engine and all-wheel drive for $43,835.

Both of these models have leatherette seats, power-adjustable front seats, alloy wheels, push-button start, proximity keyless entry, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The standard infotainment system features a 7-inch display, Bluetooth, a USB port, a 10-speaker stereo, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Siri Eyes Free, HD Radio, satellite radio, the Lexus Enform App Suite, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. You’ll also get several safety features, like a rearview camera and the Lexus Safety System+ suite of safety features, including automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision warning system with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, and lane departure alert.

Every RC 300 is available with several packages. For $1,645, the Navigation package adds a 10.3-inch split-screen display, a navigation system, and Lexus’ Remote Touch controller. The Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio package ($2,725) gives you all that plus a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. You could pick up the Premium package for $2,390 ($1,950 in AWD models), which features heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and rain-sensing wipers. Many of these are also available as individual options, as are front and rear parking sensors ($500), a heated steering wheel ($150), and a moonroof ($1,100).

Lexus RC 350

With a starting MSRP of $44,075, the RC 350 has a V6 engine that makes 311 horsepower. Otherwise it has most of the same options and packages as the base RC 300.

For around $2,165, you can add all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission to the RC 350, bringing the total MSRP to $46,240. It has the same packages and pricing as the RC 300 AWD.

Lexus RC F Sport

The Lexus RC F Sport starts at $47,860 for the turbo-four, rear-wheel-drive version. The all-wheel drive, V6-powered RC 300 F Sport starts at $50,035, while the 350 F Sport and its 311-horsepower V6 starts at $50,790. Each one gains the contents of the Premium and Navigation packages as standard equipment, as well as larger alloy wheels.

The Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio package adds the 17-speaker stereo for $1,080. Many of the same options are available, and you can add a limited-slip rear differential for $390 in rear-wheel-drive F Sports.

Lexus RC F

With a base MSRP of $64,750, the RC F is the brawler in this lineup. Its interior equipment closely resembles the entry-level RWD RC 300, but the RC F adds a 467-horsepower V8 engine, high-performance Brembo brakes, and an adaptive variable suspension.

In addition to all the same package options as the base RC 300 (with most costing even more), the RC F has a Performance package. For $5,500, you can get a torque vectoring differential and carbon fiber trim. All-wheel drive is not available.

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 2019 Lexus RC specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Lexus RC is a good car with impressive predicted reliability. It has a premium cabin and satisfying performance, as well as plenty of standard features. However, many rivals have larger trunks, sportier handling, and more passenger space. Before buying the RC, it’s worth looking at some competitors.

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

  • If you're looking for a 4-passenger, 2-door sports coupe as expressive as it is reliable, Lexus' RC coupe … is the one to get. With a price tag starting in the mid-$40K range, the [RC] represents an amazing value. … There are still some 4-cylinder turbo coupes that are quicker than the V6-powered RC 350. They also get better fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • Based on the IS sedan platform, the 2016 Lexus RC 350 distills the brand's traditional refinement into a sporty two-door package. It's a satisfying result, but a few other rival luxury sport coupes are more desirable overall." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "This premium compact coupe takes some of its underpinnings from the IS sedan, but behind that distinctive spindle-grille Lexus hallmark is a design of its own, signifying that the RC is not merely an IS minus the rear passenger doors. It's undoubtedly a Lexus, though. There's an air of refinement that pervades everything from cabin to engine to transmission." -- Autotrader (2016)
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