$26,751 - $43,008

2017 Lexus RC Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Lexus RC was new.


Performance: 7.8

There are plenty of engines to choose from with the 2017 Lexus RC. Each provides more than enough power to really get things moving, though the car's curb weight is a little on the heavy side. Fuel economy is best in the base model, but it's still one of the least fuel-efficient cars in the class. While the Lexus RC is a sporty luxury small car, its rivals have superior handling. Ride quality is harsher than most in the class, but that's to be expected of a sportier coupe like this one.

  • "The distinctively styled Lexus RC F doesn't have it easy. Its German competitors were strong when it debuted in 2015, and they haven't relented in the meantime. The main hurdle for the RC F is weight – it is hundreds of pounds heavier than the BMW M4. In the traditional metrics of performance-car accomplishment, therefore, the RC F suffers." -- Edmunds
  • "Regardless of powertrain, the 2016 RC promises a satisfying and sporty ride; if you're expecting the pillow-soft ride of a Lexus ES you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting something that can handle tight corners and put a smile on the face of even a demanding driver, you'll be very happy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Edgy, fun, fast... Lexus. I'll just let that sink in for a moment." -- Autoblog (2015)

Acceleration and Power

Power for the Lexus RC comes from one of four power plants. The standard powertrain is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower. It comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The turbo-four is sophisticated and provides plenty of power for everyday driving. This engine offers the best fuel economy of the lineup: 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, but that's low for the class.

Next in line is the all-wheel-drive RC 300, which comes with a 255-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. It's only a minor power increase from the turbo-four. Still, it's nice to have a little extra pep to go with the all-wheel drive that comes with this model. However, fuel economy sinks to 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. Compared to the base model, that's about an extra $350 per year in fuel.

The RC 350 uses a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is actually better in the RC 350 than in the RC 300. You can expect 19/28 mpg city/highway.

For the most power in the lineup, the RC F is the one to go with. Its 5.0-liter V8 puts out a heart-pumping 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, and it's accompanied by an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It's only available with rear-wheel drive. Lexus says the RC F can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and it has a top speed of 168 mph. Driving it is a blast, thanks to its ample power.

  • For a sports car, I think the RC, even the F-Sport, lacks a sporty feel. With just a hair over 300 hp, this thing [the RC 350] isn't exactly a dog, but the 3,748-pound curb weight doesn't help, either." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • We've been impressed with the … turbocharged four-cylinder's refined zest. The all-wheel-drive RC 300 is a bit behind the times with its six-speed automatic and relatively modest 255-hp V6, but in the real world, it's not a slouch." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "The RC F's 5.0L V8 is nothing short of sensational, offering arguably the best intake noise in the business to go along with its head-snapping power." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive comes standard in the RC, and all-wheel drive is available. The RC F and models with the F Sport package come with an adaptive suspension and upgraded brake pads. The RC F is only available with rear-wheel drive, and it comes with a torque vectoring differential that distributes power side to side to enhance cornering performance.

While the RC offers great handling ability, it's not as sharp as some of its classmates. Also, the RC has a rough ride, especially over uneven roads. On the highway, things tend to be a bit smoother. With four driving modes, you can customize the RC's ride and handling responses to be more sporty or comfortable, depending on your preferences.

  • "For a car that doesn't have particularly sharp handling, it's surprising that the RC F's ride is so rough. Seemingly every road imperfection gets transmitted through the seats and steering wheel. It's not a great car for road trips." -- Edmunds
  • "With selectable drive modes, including Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+, the RC 350 responds well to driver inputs, tweaking throttle, brake, and steering tuning. The car can become more efficient for the daily commute or more performance-oriented for spirited driving." -- Motor Trend
  • Powertrain aside, the 2017 Lexus RC excels in the corners, although the penalty paid in the form of a stiff ride might be a rude awakening for longtime Lexus owners. Broken or choppy pavement can make long rides rather unpleasant, something you won't experience in an equally well-mannered Audi A5 or Cadillac ATS. However, as long as the highway remains smooth, the RC's taut suspension settings are tolerable over time." -- Kelley Blue Book

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