2020 Lexus RC

2020 Lexus RC Review: Style Over Sport

by Michael Butler

The Lexus RC is a beautifully designed compact premium coupe that puts luxury and comfort above pure driving ability and straight-line performance. There are three engine options on offer for 2020; the base model comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot producing 241 horsepower, followed by a 260-hp V6 for AWD models. The RC 350 gets a 311-hp V6 engine, and all trim levels are available in RWD and AWD. The F Sport trim adds some serious performance features such as adaptive suspension and performance brakes. Rivals include the BMW 4 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe. We appreciate the beautifully crafted interior and a good list of standard features, but we wish the drive was more engaging. If you're after looks and comfort, the Lexus RC might just be the choice for you, but as far engaging driving dynamics do, you'd be better off looking elsewhere.

2020 Lexus RC Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 RC?

All major mechanical components remain the same for 2020, but Lexus has given the RC some new standard features. You no longer need to specify the Premium Package to gain access to the optional wheels, and you can no longer get your RC in Vortex Blue. The Enform infotainment system gets an updated trial period, and the great-sounding Mark Levinson audio system is now available as a single options rather than part of a more expensive package.

Pros and Cons

  • Beautiful exterior design
  • Refined ride quality
  • Spacious interior
  • F Sport strikes a good balance of ride and handling
  • Tight back seat
  • Tricky touchpad controller infotainment
  • Could be quicker in our opinion
  • No manual transmission
  • Places style above engaging driving dynamics

2020 Lexus RC Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
RC 300
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$41,295
RC 350
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,225
RC 300 F Sport
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$46,365
RC 350 F Sport
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$49,295

RC Exterior

Lexus, once regarded as the Japanese grandpas' car, has come miles in terms of design, and when the beautifully over-engineered LFA first showed its face, we knew that Lexus was onto something great. Those sharp lines and fierce front facia design have filtered down to the more run of the mill models, and we're happy to report that the 2020 RC looks absolutely stunning. The RC has clearly been designed to show off its sporty nature, and we adore its compact yet muscular looks. Standard exterior features for 2020 include bi-LED headlamps and LED taillamps on the RC 300, while F Sport models gain exclusive rights to a set of F Sport 19-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels with a Dark Graphite finish in place of the standard 10-spoke wheels, and a unique front bumper and grille. The optional premium package adds rain-sensing window wipers, while other optional features include a power moonroof, and premium triple-beam LED headlights.

2020 Lexus RC Front View Driving Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Side View Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Side View 1 Lexus
See All 2020 Lexus RC Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The 2020 Lexus RC is categorized as a compact premium two-door coupe, which means a relatively short length and wheelbase paired with a broader stance. The 2020 RC measures closely to rivals such as the Infiniti Q60 Coupe and BMW 4 Series Coupe. Overall length comes in at 185 inches, compared to the 184.4 inch Q60 and even shorter 4 Series' 182.7 inches. Overall width is 72.4 inches, and the RC stands 54.9 inches tall in RWD guise, rising to 55.1 in AWD configuration. The car rolls on a stubby 107.5-inch wheelbase, shorter than both the Infiniti and BMW. The lightest car in the RC range is the RC 300 RWD, which weighs in at 3,737 pounds. RC 350 RWD cars come in at 3,748 lbs, and the heaviest of the bunch would be the RC 350 AWD at 3,891 lbs.

  • Length 184.8 in
  • Wheelbase 107.5 in
  • Height 54.9 in
  • Max Width 72.4 in
  • Front Width 62.2 in
  • Rear Width 63.0 in

Exterior Colors

A body like this deserves to be shown off, and Lexus' styling department is all too aware of that, so instead of getting a range of muted business-like colors that opt for a more professional look, Lexus has given the RC over to the sporty side of things with a range of colors that evoke speed and passion; something that Lexus has only started getting used to in the past decade. Base RC 300 cars are available in exotic-sounding colors that are actually pretty basic such as Eminent White Pearl and Caviar, a sort of black. Infrared is an extra cost option ($595) that really highlights the curves on the RC. F Sport models get racing-inspired colors such as Ultra White and the stunning Flare Yellow. If we had the bucks, we'd get one in the Lexus benchmark Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0.

  • Eminent White Pearl
  • Nebula Gray Pearl
  • Atomic Silver
  • Obsidian
  • Caviar
  • Infrared
  • Blue Vortex Metallic
  • Ultra White
  • Flare Yellow
  • Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0

RC Performance

It should be made clear from the start that the Lexus RC is not a dedicated sports car. Unlike its more powerful and vastly more capable sibling, the RC F, the humble RC aims to offer a comfortable driving experience with a hint of dynamic ability. The base 2.0-liter engine develops a mild 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is barely enough to haul around a car that's edging towards 4,000 pounds. Still, around town, it has enough poke low down to move the RC with convincing pace. Lexus claims a zero to sixty sprint time of 7.3 seconds for the turbo car. The AWD version of the RC 300 gets a larger V6 engine and different transmission, which sees that sprint time comes down to 6.3 seconds. The RC 350 and F Sport gets a power increase to 311 hp and drops the zero to sixty time even further to 5.8 seconds in RWD guise, two-tenths quicker than the AWD-equipped version. The V6 offers sufficient go, but we wish Lexus would up the power on both engines and make a full transition to turbocharging as rivals have.

2020 Lexus RC Front View Driving 1 Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Wheel Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Headlights On Lexus

Engine and Transmission

New owners get to choose between a small capacity 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a traditional 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 in two states of tune. Both engines have their pros and cons, but what they both have in common is a slight lack of power. The 2.0-liter turbo generates 241 hp and gains access to all of its 258 lb-ft from only 1,650 rpm, which means you get a good shove of torque from low down in the rev range, but that soon tapers off, and the exhaust note is uninspiring, to say the least. On the other hand, you get buttery smooth V6 engines. The RC 300 AWD and F Sport are powered by a detuned 3.5-liter V6 that kicks out 260 hp and 236 lb-ft, while RC 350 cars get a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 that produces a more significant 311 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. This engine loves to rev, but with maximum torque only coming in at a heady 4,800 rpm, you'll be doing a lot of it. The eight-speed auto transmission works well with the torquey turbo engine, but hunts for gears in V6 RWD-equipped cars. AWD cars are fitted with a more traditional six-speed automatic which matches the silky smooth nature of the V6 engine but is slower to shift due to its age.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.5-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Yes, it looks the part, but can the Lexus RC walk the walk? We think so. Climb in behind the wheel of the base model RC 300, and you're greeted with a driving experience that feels sporty enough, but definitely has a bias towards refined cruising. Steering in all models is sharp, and despite its overly assisted electric feel, it still manages to return enough road feedback to make driving the RC on the edge a fun, rather than daunting experience. Throw the RC into the corners, and you'll find that it's not as well set up as rivals such as the BMW 4 Series, but it is forgiving, which means there's more room to explore its capabilities in a safe and fun way. If you really want a sporty experience, you should look towards the RC F Sport, which adds stiffened adaptive suspension for an even sharper driving experience, while an available $390 limited-slip differential turns it into a capable cornering tool, albeit not a proper track weapon.

RC Gas Mileage

We could forgive Lexus for not stuffing the most powerful engines under the hood of the 2020 RC if they were even slightly economical. Still, in truth, the RC delivers mediocre gas mileage, which is a big no-no in today's market. The EPA reckons that the most fuel-efficient RC in the range is the RWD RC 300 which will return 21/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined, the next most economical option would be the RWD 3.5-liter RC 350 which will return 20/28/23 mpg. The AWD RC 350 and RC 300 AWD F Sport will get 19/26/21 and 18/24/21 mpg respectively. With a maximum fuel capacity of 17.4 gallons, the 2020 Lexus RC will be able to travel between 365 and 418 miles on a single tank of gas.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    17.4 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 21/30 mpg
* 2020 Lexus RC 300 RWD

RC Interior

The exterior of the 2020 Lexus RC is a hard act to follow; its compact and sporty figure looks planted and confident on the road, so does the interior styling and overall design follow suit? Step inside the RC 300, and you most definitely get a sense of sportiness. Unlike the exterior, which has a few notable curves, the interior of the RC is a more clean-cut affair, but don't get us wrong, it still looks premium. Standard interior features on offer here are dual-zone climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar control, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. RC 300 AWD cars add heated front seats, but the F Sport cars bring on the biggest changes; you get F Sport heated and ventilated front seats with enhanced bolsters, a turbo boost gauge (on the RC 300 RWD), and race-inspired instrumentation.

2020 Lexus RC Central Console Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Front Seats Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Central Console 1 Lexus
See All 2020 Lexus RC Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Being a more driver-focused car means that the RC will naturally prioritize front seat occupants, while those in the rear will have to sit down, shut up, and enjoy the ride as best they can. Headroom in the front of the 2020 RC is measured at a roomy 39 inches in the front, while the rear gets tight with a head clearance of only 34.8 inches. The same goes for the legroom measurement; those in the front get a massive 45.4 inches of legroom, while those in the back will have the circulation in their calves cut off with only 27.3 inches of space. Shoulder room is 54.7/50.8 inches front to back, and the hip room is 53.9/44.9 inches front to back. Accessing the front seats is simple enough, but trying to stoop through to the rear seats is a genuine mission and one we'd hate to force upon anyone.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater
  • Front Leg Room 45.4 in
  • Front Head Room 39.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 27.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 34.8 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Lexus is renowned for its expertly crafted interiors and the use of quality materials, and it is clear to see that the sporty RC wholly benefits from it. A quick scan around the cabin reveals a scattering of quality soft-touch materials and beautifully crafted buckets seats on the non-F Sport models. RC 300 and RC 350 cars are available with a number of cool upholstery and trim color schemes, including Playa NuLuxe material with Linear Dark Mocha wood trim or Glazed Caramel NuLuxe with Linear Dark Mocha wood trim. F Sport models come with your choice of White NuLuxe with Dark Gray Streamline trim as well as the sporty Circuit Red NuLuxe with Dark Gray Streamline trim. F Sport cars also get aluminum pedals and a black headliner. Those wishing to stand out will look toward outrageous options like Circuit Red NuLuxe or a combination of Black and Yellow NuLuxe, but it's worth noting there's no genuine leather to be found anywhere but on the steering wheel.

RC Trunk and Cargo Space

Don't expect much from this two-door coupe, and you won't be disappointed: The RC's compact design has naturally caused the cabin to encroach on trunk space territory, especially considering the fact that front-seat passengers get an enormous 45.4 inches of legroom. Pop the trunk, which opens up nice and wide, and you'll be greeted with a tight 10.4 cubic feet of space. You can fit enough toilet paper and facemasks in there to last you at least two weeks. Thankfully the RC allows you to fold the rear seats flat, but that doesn't help much. As with rivals such as the Infiniti Q60 and BMW 4 Series, the RC doesn't offer much in terms of small-item storage; you get two cupholders in the front, slim door pockets, a glovebox and that's about it.

2020 Lexus RC Front Seats 1 Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Driver Seat Lexus
2020 Lexus RC Trunk Space Lexus
  • Trunk Volume
    10.4 ft³

RC Infotainment and Features

Features

Potential buyers will be happy to learn that the 2020 Lexus RC comes almost fully loaded in base form, with only a few additional extras being added as you climb up the trim ladder. In base form, the RWD RC 300 comes standard with exterior features such as bi-LED headlights, LED taillamps, and performance dampers. Inside the car, you can expect to find standard steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat, as well as SmartAccess with push-button start. The 2020 RC comes standard with the Lexus Safety System suite of driver assistance tech which includes pre-collision assistance with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist, high-speed dynamic radar cruise

Control and intelligent high beams. AWD RC 300 cars get heated front seats. F Sport models get a whole lot of love: under the bodywork and wheels hides F Sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension with Sport S+ and custom drive mode, as well as two-piece front brake rotors with high-friction brake pads.

Infotainment

There's nothing special to report here; in fact, the infotainment system on the 2020 Lexus RC, a brand which prides itself on building some rather advanced vehicles, lags behind its contemporaries by quite a stretch. All trim levels are equipped with a seven-inch infotainment display, which offers clear images and smooth menu transitions, but compared to the modern standard, the screen looks small and cluttered. Features that come standard with this system include a one year access to Lexus Enform Safety Connect for the first three years of ownership, the Lexus Enform Remote With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity as well as voice command. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included. The standard 10-speaker sound system delivers impressive performance. For those with an ear for quality, Lexus offers a $1,080 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and a larger 10.3-inch display with integrated navigation, climate control adjustment 3D city views and highway junction display.

RC Problems and Reliability

There have been no recalls issued for 2020, and there has been but a single recall issued in the past two years that affected certain RCs. The recall was caused by a faulty fuel pump that could leak and cause a fire hazard. Lexus will cover the 2020 RC with a standard four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which includes a six-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile drivetrain warranty, as well as a one-year/10,000-mile maintenance plan and four years worth of roadside assistance.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    6 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    1 Years \ 10,000 Miles

RC Safety

With a solid number of standard driver assistance features and backup safety systems, the 2020 Lexus RC offers great levels of crash protection. The NHTSA is yet to provide an overall crash test result for this car, but the IIHS awarded the 2020 RC full marks in all crash categories, as well as Superior ratings for standard crash prevention tech.

Key Safety Features

The reason for the Lexus RC's great safety track record is simple: Lexus has gone to great lengths to make sure that the RC is designed from the ground up with structural integrity and safety in mind, and have dumped a load of tech systems on top of that. The rigid body construction is backed by advanced stability control, which is designed to predict a skid even before it occurs, and is joined by optional premium triple-beam led headlamps, standard high-performance F Sport brakes on RWD F Sport derivatives, as well as rain-sensing windshield wipers and eight airbags including dual front knee airbags. The Lexus Safety System brings a ton of driver assistance features to the party, including pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and intelligent high beams. Additional features include blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (standard on F Sport models) and optional front and rear parking sensors.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Lexus RC a good car?

The duality of the Lexus RC is what makes it an appealing proposition. It is most certainly a sporty thing that not only looks fast but gets down the road pretty convincingly, but its main focus is on driver comfort, safety, and luxury. From the outside, the RC's striking looks and optional triple beam LEDs lead you to believe that this car is going to be a rocket, but in reality, it is more of a sporty coupe with GT aspirations. We love its composed ride quality, but driving hard reveals a significant disconnect between driver and car, which is improved upon when you go for one of the F Sport cars with tighter suspension and an optional limited-slip differential. Inside, the level of quality and refinement is excellent, and you get all the basic features you'd expect from a car in this class. We were disappointed with its tight rear seats and unintuitive infotainment system, though. All in all, the RC is an honest premium coupe that can be enjoyable at pace and offers impressive refinement but don't expect it to set scorching lap times or thrill the soul.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Lexus RC?

The 2020 Lexus RC is priced to compete with the likes of BMW's 4 Series and Infiniti's Q60 Coupe. We'll start with the base model, and cheapest car in the range, the RC 300 RWD, which goes for an MSRP of $41,295. This price excludes a destination fee of $1,025, registration, and tax. The AWD version of the RC 300 goes for $43,985 and opting for the more performance orientated RC 300 F Sport RWD will set you back $46,365. The AWD version of the RC 300 F Sport goes for $48,540. The more powerful RC 350 starts at $44,225 for the RWD car and $46,390 for the AWD version. At the top of the pile sits the RC 350 F Sport, which costs $49,295 in RWD guise, and $50,905 in AWD configuration.

2020 Lexus RC Models

There are four main trim options on offer, being the RC 300, RC 350 and their F Sport versions. All trims are available in RWD and AWD, with AWD versions adding some minor changes - or in the case of the RC 300, a new engine and gearbox combination entirely.

The base model RC 300 comes standard with a 241-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, while the AWD model features a 260 hp V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The exterior features bi-LED headlamps and 19-inch wheels, while the interior gets a Lexus multimedia system with a seven-inch color display, Wi-Fi integration, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto Integration, as well as Amazon Alexa compatibility and a ten-speaker sound system. Other interior features include dual-zone climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat. Driver assistance features on the RC 300 consist of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assistance, dynamic cruise control, and intelligent high beams. AWD cars also get heated front seats.

The RC 350 includes the RC 300's features but gets the high-output 311-hp V6 engine.

The F Sport trims starts getting serious with a number of performance and appearance upgrades. On the outside, you'll notice F Sport 19-inch split-five spoke alloy wheels and F Sport front bumper and grille. The car also rides on F Sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension with Sport S+ and Custom drive modes and two-piece front brake rotors with high-performance brake pads. On the inside, the F Sport gets heated and ventilated front seats with enhanced bolsters, F Sport interior details including Dark Gray Streamline trim, aluminum pedals, and black headliner, as well as a perforated leather-trimmed shift knob and steering wheel and a turbo boost gauge (on the RWD RC 300 F Sport).

See All 2020 Lexus RC Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

You can add a Navigation Package for $1,645 that includes a navigation system with a 10.3-inch split-screen multimedia display, Lexus Enform dynamic navigation, dynamic voice command, and an in-dash DVD/CD player. This package is available across the lineup. The Premium Package adds features such as heated and ventilated front seats, power-folding, auto-dimming outside mirrors, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel to non F Sport models for $1,950 in AWD guise, and $2,390 in RWD format. Individual options include a $150 F Sport steering wheel, intuitive parking assist for $500, or a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system for $1,080, while RWD F Sport trims get the option of $390 limited slip differential and the RC 350 F Sport gets exclusive access to rear-wheel steering for $1,900.

🚗What Lexus RC Model Should I Buy?

The RC is a good looking car no matter what trim you go for, so if you're not interested in dynamic ability, an RC 300 will do just fine, but we think the RC can do much better than the base model. With a rather hefty curb weight, the RC needs all the power it can get, so for that reason, we'll start off with the RC 350. It offers all the features found on the RC 300 but gets significantly more poke. While you're at it, you might as well go for the F Sport version that turns the RC into a more convincing driver's car thanks to its adaptive suspension and performance brakes, but don't expect BMW 4 Series levels of athleticism. The RC 350 F Sport starts at $49,295.

Check out other Lexus RC Styles

2020 Lexus RC Comparisons

BMW 4 Series Coupe BMW
Infiniti Q60 Coupe CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Lexus RC241 hp21/30 mpg$41,295
BMW 4 Series Coupe 248 hp23/34 mpg$44,950
Infiniti Q60 Coupe 300 hp19/28 mpg$41,350

2020 Lexus RC vs BMW 4 Series Coupe

Competing in the luxury sports coupe class, the BMW 4 Series has become a popular choice for executives that like the look of a sports car, but who don't feel the need to go for a hardcore performance option such as the M4. The 4 Series is powered by either a turbocharged four-pot developing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, or a more potent turbocharged inline-six that churns out 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Gas mileage ranges from 23/34/27 mpg for the 430i to 22/30/25 mpg for the 440i xDrive Coupe. Whereas the Lexus RC feels disconnected from the driver, the BMW is more involving, the engines more potent, and the transmission far better. We are also grateful for the inclusion of a six-speed manual option. The BMW does have its weak points; however, it doesn't come with many standard features, optional extras can get expensive, and headroom is a bit tight in the rear, but not as constricting as the RC. We'd go with the 4 Series all day, purely for its dynamic nature.

See BMW 4 Series Coupe Review

2020 Lexus RC vs Infiniti Q60 Coupe

The Q60 Coupe is a stunning vehicle and competes with the likes of the RC in the sense that it's also developed by the premium arm of a Japanese company. From the outside, the Q60 charms with its flowing lines and handsome front end, but its interior is starting to show its age. Under the hood of the Q60 lies a potent twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 300 hp and 295 lb-ft, and is more enjoyable to push hard than the V6 in the RC 350. If you want something even more hardcore, Infiniti offers a Red Sport 400 trim that produces 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Things we like about the Q60 are the roomier rear seats and supremely comfortable front seats, and the general refinement of the interior which features lots of soft-touch materials. On the other hand, the interior design is starting to look a bit dated, and the aging infotainment system is tricky to use. The rear seats, as in the RC, are cramped, and it holds a dubious safety record. We'd stick with the RC here, despite the Q60's brilliant engine options.

See Infiniti Q60 Coupe Review

Lexus RC Popular Comparisons

2020 Lexus RC Video Reviews

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$41,295 - $50,905
Price Range (MSRP)
Lexus RC