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2021 Lexus RC Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 6.8

The 2021 Lexus RC has a comfortable ride and several engines to choose from, but its overall performance trails class rivals with stronger base engines and sportier rides. The RC also has below-average gas mileage figures for the segment.

  • "Its bodywork helps it look the part, but the RC needs more power and sharper handling to be a true contender among sports coupes." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2020 Lexus RC coupe backs up its sexy shape and aggressive design with strong performance and an engaging driving experience." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
  • "Even in its quietest setting, the engine is still audible while cruising on the freeway and sounds fantastic at full throttle." -- Edmunds (2019)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque (RWD RC 300, RC 300 F Sport, and RC 300 F Sport Black Line Special Edition trims)
  • Available engines:
    • 3.5-liter V6 with 260 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque (AWD RC 300, RC 300 F Sport, and RC 300 F Sport Black Line Special Edition trims)
    • 3.5-liter V6 with 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque (RC 350, RC 350 F Sport, and RC 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition trims)
    • 5.0-liter V8 with 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque (RC F and RC F Fuji Speedway Edition trim)
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard eight-speed automatic; available six-speed automatic

The RC has an engine for every type of driver. The base engine provides sufficient power but isn’t very exciting. For more thrill, opt for the AWD RC 300 trim or higher. With the four-cylinder engine, the RC goes from zero to 60 mph in a little over seven seconds. Models with the V6 have a zero-to-60 time of roughly six seconds. The RC F trim can reach 60 mph in a little over four seconds, while the RC F blasts to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Both automatic transmissions pair well with their respective engines and come with paddle shifters.

  • "Shift paddles help involve the driver, and the shift action of the 8- and 6-speed automatic transmissions is befitting of a premium car like a Lexus." -- Autotrader
  • "The RC300 is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder making 241 horsepower and mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission. … In our testing, we've found this engine to be velvety smooth with linear power delivery, but it's still not as gutsy as its rivals." -- Car and Driver??????
  • "Those seeking the ultimate Lexus performer should opt for the 472-horsepower RC F with its intoxicating V8 rumble and thrust." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)

MPG Estimates

The RC's fuel economy estimates are subpar for a luxury small car, and models with all-wheel drive or a larger engine get even worse estimates than models with the base engine.

  • Turbo-four, FWD: 21/31 mpg city/highway
  • V6, FWD: 20/28 mpg
  • V6, AWD: 19/26 mpg
  • V8, FWD: 16/24 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Lexus RC leans more toward comfort than sportiness. It provides a composed ride over road bumps and around corners, but it lacks the connected feel you find in rivals. There are more athletic variants, like the F Sport and RC F models, with sport-tuned suspensions. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "Ride comfort is where the RC succeeds–and it does so with honors. Upgrading to larger wheels with lower profile tires, as featured on the RC350 F Sport we tested, does put a sharper edge on the ride, but it is never harsh. The RC is not as eager as tauter coupes when it comes to enthusiastic driving, but there's still some room to play. The steering wheel transmits a good amount of road feeling, and there's enough feedback to let you know when the front tires are losing their grip on the pavement." -- Car and Driver
  • "With its rigid chassis and well-tuned suspension, the RC absorbs surface imperfections in the road while remaining settled in the corners. The electric-assist steering doesn’t have great feedback, but the level of effort feels about right." -- Autotrader
  • "Although it’s heavier than many of its competitors from BMW and Audi, the Lexus is quick and handles well enough for most buyers." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
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2021 Lexus RC

MSRP: $42,120 - $96,675

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