2018 Lexus RC

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MSRP: $40,640 - 64,650

2018 Lexus RC Review

The 2018 Lexus RC ranks in the middle of the competitive luxury small car class. It has few drawbacks, but it falls short of its rivals on athleticism and comfort.




Critics' Rating: 8.0
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 7.3
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Premium, well-built interior
  • Numerous standard tech and safety features
  • Pleasant ride and handling
  • Limited cargo room
  • Cumbersome infotainment system

New for 2018

  • Wi-Fi hot spot and Lexus Safety System+ now standard
  • V6 engines get small power boost
  • RC 300 replaces RC 200t as base model

Is the Lexus RC a Good Car?

Despite its middle-of-the-pack ranking, the Lexus RC is a good car. This two-door coupe combines solid performance with a top-notch interior and a generous list of standard features. Each of its four engine options gets this Lexus moving with ease. The RC can also hold its own when the road gets twisty. Still, a cramped rear seat and a small trunk prevent the RC from being a practical car in the luxury small car class. It's also not as athletic as several European-badged rivals, such as the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 coupes.

Should I Buy the Lexus RC?

There's plenty to like about the RC, including its poised handling and classy interior, but considering its $40,000-plus price tag, you're better off taking your money elsewhere. The Lexus IS sedan has a lower sticker price, and its roomier interior is more practical for daily driving. The smaller BMW 2 Series coupe is less expensive as well, and it provides even sharper handling.

Compare the RC, IS, and 2 Series »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus RC?

For 2018, the Lexus RC gets a standard Wi-Fi hot spot and the Lexus Safety System+ suite of driver assistance technologies, which includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and more. The car's optional V6 engines each get a boost of 5 horsepower, and the former Lexus RC 200t base model is now the RC 300.

You can likely save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used Lexus RC instead of a new one, but you may not find models with those newly standard features. Lexus introduced the RC coupe as an all-new model for 2015. Otherwise, there have been few changes to the available features and powertrains from year to year.

To research used RC models, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Lexus RC. If you decide an older Lexus model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Lexus RC »
We Did the Research for You: 30 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 30 Lexus RC reviews to give you an idea of this car’s pros and cons. We’ve also included fuel economy estimates, safety scores, reliability ratings, and more to help you decide if the 2018 RC is the right option for you. This 2018 Lexus RC review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To keep our reviews free from outside influence, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party manages the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Lexus RC Cost?

Prices for the 2018 RC start at $40,640 for the base RC 300 with rear-wheel drive and $43,330 for the RC 300 with all-wheel drive. That makes it one of the more expensive models in the class but still on par with the similarly sized BMW 4 Series and Audi A5. The range-topping RC F starts at $64,650. All trims come with the same interior features, and most share the same available option packages too.

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 Lexus IS?

The Lexus IS is a better option for those who still want to drive a Lexus but want or need more utility. The IS has adult-friendly back seats and a larger trunk, along with a supple ride quality that you would expect from a Lexus. Aside from the RC F's exclusive V8 engine, these models have the same powertrain options, similar fuel economy estimates, and a comparable list of features. The IS not only costs a few thousand dollars less than the RC, but it's also a better vehicle.

Which Is Better: Lexus RC or Infiniti Q60?

The Infiniti Q60 is a coupe with a lower starting price, but it doesn’t stack up well with the Lexus RC. The Q60 is less athletic, with numb steering and a weaker base engine than the RC has. Both models get similar gas mileage. Despite the fact that the Q60 offers slightly more rear-seat room than the RC, it's still not worth the savings if performance is a concern.

Compare the RC, IS, and Q60 »

RC Interior

How Many People Does the RC Seat?

The RC is a four-seat, two-door coupe, though you shouldn't plan on carrying adults in the cramped rear seats too often. Up front, the seats are comfortable enough for commuting, but all-day drives may prove unpleasant due to thin cushion padding. There are sport seats with more side bolstering available, and they will hold you in place better around corners. Leatherette upholstery comes standard, as do heated front seats. Optional extras include leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel.

RC Interior Quality

Few models in the luxury small car class can match the level of interior quality found in the RC. First-rate materials cover every surface, and Lexus did an exceptional job fitting it all together.

RC Cargo Space

Most luxury small cars offer more trunk space than the RC, which only has 10.1 cubic feet. The rear seats in all but RC F models split and fold to accommodate longer items. The cabin doesn't have many cubbies or pockets to stow your small personal effects.

RC Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This is a well-equipped coupe. It has a long list of standard features ranging from a 7-inch display, to satellite radio, to even a Wi-Fi hot spot. The base infotainment screen is mounted far back on the center stack, which means it can be hard to see some of the displayed information. A larger 10.3-inch screen with navigation is available. For the most part, it is an improvement over the standard display, though it comes with the Remote Touch controller, which can be difficult to use. Music lovers will want to find a model equipped with the available Mark Levinson surround-sound system, as it delivers crisp sound from its 17 speakers.

Read more about interior »

RC Performance

RC Engine: Eager Four-Cylinder to Brawny V8

The RC is available with four power plants, ranging from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder up to a 5.0-liter V8 in the performance-focused RC F. The base engine is adequate for commuting, though the two optional V6 engines have extra pep that will appeal to most drivers. The RC F is particularly quick, with a top speed of 170 mph and acceleration from zero to 60 mph in as little as 4.4 seconds. Rear-wheel-drive RC models have an eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel-drive models have a six-speed automatic.

RC Gas Mileage: A Bit Low

The RC gets up to 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway when equipped with the standard four-cylinder engine. Most competitors get better gas mileage from their base engines.

RC Ride and Handling: Fairly Fun to Drive

The RC coupe is among the nimblest models in Lexus' lineup, but it can't keep up with more agile European competitors. Stepping up to the RC F will get you an adaptive suspension and performance brakes. You can also add a torque-vectoring differential to the RC F for even more athletic handling. RC F models aren't quite as comfortable over rough roads, however.

Read more about performance »

RC Reliability

Is the Lexus RC Reliable?

The 2018 RC coupe has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Lexus RC Warranty

The 2018 Lexus RC comes 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 2018 Lexus RC earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It also achieved the highest score of Good in every IIHS crash test category.

RC Safety Features

The RC coupe comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+, which includes the Pre-Collision System (forward collision warning with brake assist), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and automatic high beam headlights. A rearview camera is also standard. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are optional.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus RC Model Is Right for Me?

There are no differences in features among the RC's three trims. Instead, the available engines separate the trims. Even though the standard four-cylinder engine has adequate power, most drivers should step up to the RC 300 AWD or RC 350 to get a V6.

All trim levels come standard with leatherette upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, and alloy wheels. The RC also comes standard with a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, a 7-inch display, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0, Bluetooth, Lexus Enform Service Connect, Scout GPS Link navigation, and a rearview camera. The Lexus Safety System+ is newly standard for 2018, and it includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and automatic high beam headlights.

There are several packages available for all trims. They range in price from a couple hundred dollars up to a few thousand dollars. The Premium package adds heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. The Luxury package includes features from the Premium package plus leather upholstery, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, and rain-sensing wipers. The Navigation package has an upgraded 10.3-inch display, navigation, and the Remote Touch controller. The Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio package has all the features from the Navigation package, along with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system.

The F Sport package (not available in the RC F) has an adaptive suspension, performance brakes, front sport seats, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, and unique styling elements. The Performance package (only available in the RC F) adds a torque-vectoring differential, a carbon fiber spoiler, and a carbon fiber roof. The All-Weather package includes headlight washers, a wiper de-icer, and water-repellant front windows.

Lexus RC 300

The RC 300 is the base model. It is priced at $40,640. Rear-wheel drive models have a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The RC 300 AWD, which costs $43,330, has a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 260 horsepower. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Lexus RC 350

With the RC 350, you get a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 311 horsepower. This model starts at $43,570. Rear-wheel-drive models have an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive models have a six-speed automatic (and start at $45,735).

Lexus RC F

The performance-oriented RC F tops out the line, with prices starting at $64,650. This model comes with a 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

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 2018 Lexus RC specs and trims »

The Final Call

The RC is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. While it has sporty looks, a chic interior, and satisfying performance, many competitors offer either more thrilling driving dynamics or a more usable passenger and cargo space. For these reasons, rivals are easier to live with on a day-to-day basis.

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. If the RC's styling comes off as too aggressive, a BMW 4 Series, an Infiniti Q60 or Audi A5 might be a better choice." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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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