$31,980 - $53,910

2018 Lexus RC Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Lexus RC was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.3

The 2018 Lexus RC may not be as sporty as some competitors, but it can still put a smile on your face. It feels athletic through turns, and it has a lineup of engines ranging from mild to wild. However, this coupe gets subpar fuel economy estimates for the class.

  • "The 2018 Lexus RC coupe backs up its sexy shape and aggressive design with strong performance and an engaging driving experience." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2017)
  • "Edgy, fun, fast ... Lexus. I'll just let that sink in for a moment." -- Autoblog (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The base rear-wheel-drive RC 300 comes with a 241-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the all-wheel-drive RC 300 AWD has a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The RC 350 has a 311-horsepower version of the V6, and the performance-oriented RC F is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that makes 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel-drive RC models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel-drive models come with a six-speed automatic.

The turbo-four in the base RC 300 has ample power for daily driving, though most drivers will be more satisfied with the added punch from either of the V6 engines. The V8-powered RC F is undeniably quick, and the exhaust note sounds great too. It can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds and up to a top speed of 170 mph.

With the base engine, the RC 300 gets up to 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, which is a bit below average for the class.

  • "Even the base RC … accelerates quickly and delivers the same cat-like reflexes as the RC 350. More demanding drivers should step up to the V6-powered RC 300 or RC 350; you'll appreciate the additional power over time." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • 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

The RC comes standard with rear-wheel drive and is available with all-wheel drive. All models come with Drive Mode Select, which lets you adjust various performance settings. An adaptive suspension and performance brakes come with the F Sport package and the RC F. The RC F is also available with a torque-vectoring differential to further improve handling.

Though it's not quite as fun to drive as some European rivals, the RC is certainly one of the most athletic Lexus models you can buy. The RC F offers even sharper handling – though at the expense of ride comfort. Its stiffer suspension brings more jolts and jitters on bumpy pavement.

  • It’s more fun to drive than most Lexus models. Although it’s heavier than many of its competitors from BMW and Audi, the Lexus is quick and handles well enough for most buyers. … And the F Sport models are worth the investment for the increase in handling, although the stiff ride might be a rude awakening for longtime Lexus owners. " -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

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