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2019 Lexus RC

$41,145 - $52,400
Price Range (MSRP)
Lexus RC

2019 Lexus RC Review

by Roger Biermann

The RC is Lexus' luxury coupe which, although equipped with three powerful engine options and boasting sports-car looks, is made for cruising and comfort over dynamic performance. Three main engine configurations are available, with a rear-wheel-drive RC 300 equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of producing 241 horsepower, while the all-wheel-drive RC 300 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine developing 260 hp. The RC 350 boasts an upgraded 3.5-liter V6 engine, dialed up to generate 311 hp. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on RWD derivatives, while AWD models make use of a six-speed auto. Set well below the flagship LC 500 coupe and against chief rivals like the venerable BMW 4 Series and Mercedes Benz C-Class Coupe, the broad range should place the RC in a competitive position. Considering its appreciable updates for 2019, elegant interior and class-leading safety and reliability ratings, it might well prove to be a laudable contender within the segment.

2019 Lexus RC Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 RC?

A range of mechanical enhancements, feature updates, and design alterations are added to the 2019 model RC. Exterior styling updates borrowed from the Lexus LC 500 are significant, specifically the front and rear fascias, grille, headlamps, taillamps, and the logo on the rear end. The interior has received a revised analog clock, Start/Stop button, and AC vent design, as well as a knee pad and redesigned cupholder in the front. The infotainment system has been updated to include Apple CarPlay compatibility and Amazon Alexa integration, and the Lexus Enform Remote App which allows for the smartwatch and Alexa integration.

Revised springs, shock absorbers and recalibrated electronic power steering form part of the mechanical updates, and the ECU in the RWD RC 300 model has been upgraded to optimize the shift programming, throttle and turbocharger response to offer better performance. The Premium and F-Sport Packages have been refreshed as well, and an additional exterior color option has been added to the existing palette.

Pros and Cons

  • Top-notch overall build quality
  • High-quality, luxurious interior
  • Class-leading ride quality
  • Excellent crash test scores
  • Good predicted reliability rating
  • Not an involving driver's car
  • Unintuitive infotainment interface
  • Restrictive rear seats
  • Limited trunk and cargo capacity

RC Exterior

The two-door coupe offers sleek and elegant sporty lines with a distinctive profile and front grille. At its base level, all RC models are mounted with 18-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels and are fitted with Bi-LED headlamps, LED taillamps, and have LED daytime running lights. The updated exterior offers a new sleek front grille, restyled front and rear fascias, refreshed headlamps and taillamps, all reminiscent of the LC 500 flagship coupe. The F-Sport guise features 19-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels, bespoke exterior styling (which includes a unique front bumper and grille), rain-sensing windshield wipers, and electrochromic heated outside mirrors with auto tilt-down function when in reverse.

2019 Lexus RC Front View Driving
2019 Lexus RC Side View
2019 Lexus RC Side View
See All 2019 Lexus RC Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Dimensions vary slightly between the various RC trims and drivetrains, but most measurements remain identical. All RC models measure 185 inches long and 72.4 inches wide. Both the RWD 300 and 350 variants stand at 54.9 inches tall, with the AWD models having a slightly greater height of 55.1 inches. The RC's curb weight varies depending on engine, drivetrain, and specification levels, with the RWD RC 300 being the lightest at 3,737 lbs, while the heaviest AWD-equipped trims tip the scales at 3,891 lbs, with all derivatives sharing a running ground clearance of 5.3 inches, and a wheelbase of 107.5 inches, the latter figure some 3.3 inches shorter than the Lexus IS sedan.

Exterior Colors

A total of ten hues are offered for the Lexus RC but are split in availability based on trim. Seven exterior colors are available on the non-F-Sport derivatives, including Eminent White Pearl, Atomic Silver, Nebula Gray Pearl, Caviar, Obsidian, Infrared (which costs an additional $595), and the new color addition for 2019, Blue Vortex Metallic. F-Sport derivatives get a choice of eight hues, including some of the aforementioned options. However, in place of Eminent White and Blue Vortex, F-Sport models get Ultra White and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, while offering Flare Yellow as an addition to the palette for an extra $595.

  • 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

The best performer in the range is the RC 350 in rear-wheel-drive guise, equipped with the enhanced 3.5-liter V6 engine, which - with an output of 311 hp and 280 lb-ft torque - manages a 0-60 mph sprint of just 5.8 seconds. However, this isn't much quicker than the all-wheel-drive RC 350 with its six-speed auto gearbox, which manages 0-60 mph in six seconds flat. The AWD RC 300, equipped with the less powerful version of the same V6 engine paired to a six-speed auto gearbox, is only marginally slower, reaching 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds, while the RWD RC 300 is the slowest in the lineup, featuring a 2.0-liter turbo inline-four engine and an eight-speed auto gearbox. In this set-up, the coupe takes 7.3 seconds to hit the 60 mph mark. The 2019 Lexus LC 500 soundly thrashes these times, managing the 0-60 mph sprint in only 4.9 seconds, whilst the 2019 BMW 4 Series manages 4.6 seconds in its quickest non-M iteration.

2019 Lexus RC Front View Driving
2019 Lexus RC Headlights On
2019 Lexus RC Wheel

Engine and Transmission

There are essentially three engine options available for the RC lineup, all paired with automatic gearboxes, although whether it's an eight- or six-speed unit is dependent on the drivetrain, with RWD models getting eight ratios while AWD derivatives receive a six-speed.

The rear-wheel-drive RC 300 is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration from standstill is initially slow-going, but once on the move, maneuvering around traffic in town, getting up to highway speeds, and overtaking can be done with ease. Adequate power together with a refined transmission delivers smooth gear changes without hesitation.

The AWD RC 300 receives a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine, generating 260 hp and 236 lb-ft. In this configuration, power delivery is elevated to a level expected of a V6 engine and provides ample enthusiasm at take-off with sharper responses, but less mid-range punch with the lack of a turbocharger bolstering torque.

At the top of the range, the RC 350 is equipped with an uprated version of the 3.5-liter V6 engine, tuned to develop 311 hp and 280 lb-ft, driving a choice of two or four wheels through two different automatic gearboxes. For a luxury sport coupe, the RC 350 with either powertrain setup delivers subpar acceleration relative to competing vehicles in this segment, but the old-school charm of a big V6 is a charming proposition, even if turbocharged rivals leave the RC 350 for dead.

  • 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

The RC range is equipped with varying powertrains that are designed to deliver a level of drive quality expected of a luxury coupe and nothing more. The RC 350 models are given additional power for those drivers that appreciate all-time engine potency and some overall oomph, while the F-Sport editions are equipped with various performance enhancements for better handling dynamics at its limits. As a whole, the RC range delivers a soft and luxurious drive compared to more hard-edged competitors.

In terms of handling, the RWD RC's performance-oriented summer tires allow the vehicle to maintain high speeds through corners with a superb sense of stability, though the lack of sufficient feedback through the wheel distorts the driver's ability to really engage with the car. Handling in the RC isn't very dynamic or spirited, and it's clear that the underpinnings favor casual driving and comfort. Despite this, the RC excels at remaining composed and smooth over road imperfections and undulations, and though it looks and feels as though it could pass as a sports-car, it certainly doesn't behave like one.

Even on the F-Sport, adaptive dampers and a sportier suspension setup improve ride comfort and composure, balancing out the soft suspension somewhat. With 19-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension, the F Sport offers a firmer ride, but it's still more pleasant than it is harsh, and the RC sits on the road rather than dancing across it.

Regardless of engine, trim, or drivetrain, the brakes respond accurately to inputs and the brake pedal feels evenly calibrated, remaining consistent without exhibiting inefficiency or overly reactive retort.

RC Gas Mileage

All models have a 17.4-gallon gas tank and require premium unleaded gas, particularly the turbocharged engine in the RWD RC 300. It's this variant that's the most fuel-efficient model in the lineup, earning EPA estimates of 21/30/24 mpg on the city/highway/combined driving cycles respectively. On a full tank of gas, the RWD RC 300 can travel a total range of 418 miles under mixed driving conditions. The AWD RC 300 fares slightly worse, with gas mileage of 18/24/21 mpg and a maximum range of 365 miles. The most powerful model, the RC350, manages to strike the midway point between the two aforementioned models with estimates of 20/28/23 mpg, with an expected range of 400 miles, while equipping AWD sees these figures climb to 18/24/21 mpg.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    17.4 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 21/30 mpg
* 2019 Lexus RC 300 RWD

RC Interior

All Lexus RC models are aggrandized for their exceptional build quality and luxurious interiors, characterized by meticulous attention to assembly and detail, with the use of high-quality materials throughout. The layout of the center stack buttons and use of both physical and touch-sensitive inputs can take some time getting used to, but overall ergonomics of the interior are adequate. The driver's seat is positioned comfortably within reach of all the controls, adjustments, and gadgets; both driver and passenger seats provide good support and are spacious with armrests in a suitable and non-impeding position. General room upfront is more than adequate and the seats offer an appreciable level of adjustability. On the contrary, the rear seats are quite the opposite: squashed and confined by most standards, even for children. Only the AWD RC models feature heated and ventilated front seats as standard.

2019 Lexus RC Driver Seat
2019 Lexus RC Dashboard
2019 Lexus RC Central Console
See All 2019 Lexus RC Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Marketed as able to accommodate four occupants, the RC's interior offers a different reality; the rear seats are so restrictive that in order to seat four, two of those almost have to be children, or at the very least incredibly petite adults. The ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat and steering wheel, permit a variety of body types to find an ergonomic position behind the controls, with ample all-round visibility. While the front passenger and driver have sufficient leg- and headroom, these are much more limited in the rear seats, with legroom being essentially non-existent and the sloping roof impeding headspace. The RC's long doors can make ingress and egress tough when in tight spots, but the front seats automatically slide forward for easier access to the rear seats; the downside being the lack of legroom in the rear when returned to the original position.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

There are three interior color options available for the base Lexus RC derivatives, which feature standard NuLuxe upholstery in Black paired with Linear Espresso wood trim, or alternatively, Glazed Caramel or Playa NuLuxe, which are both paired with Linear Dark Mocha wood inlay. For the F-Sport variant, unique color schemes are available, including Circuit Red, White, and an eye-catching Black-and-Yellow combo. All these are off-set by the new-for-2019 Dark Gray Streamline trim. The F-Sport guise also alters the interior with exclusive LFA-inspired instrumentation, featuring a G-force monitor and turbo-boost gauge. A perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedals, and a black headliner are also added on this model.

RC Trunk and Cargo Space

Relative to rivals, the RC offers subpar trunk and cargo space - even for a luxury coupe. Trunk capacity with the rear seats in place is much less than what many rival two-door coupes offer, with a meager 10.4 cubic feet available: enough room for a pair of small suitcases with some space to spare for soft items around the sides. This space can be expanded by tucking away the 60/40 split-folding rear seats, but not only are the release switches only reachable from the back seat, but the seats don't fold flat leading to an uneven (and rather impractical) loading area.

In-cabin storage is just as limited, with long, narrow door pockets that are quite shallow. They can barely accommodate a smartphone and can't hold bottles at all. There are two moderately deep cupholders ahead of the center console, which itself is reasonably spacious. The glovebox is otherwise adequate, as standards go, but doesn't offer any additional features to write home about.

2019 Lexus RC Front Seats
2019 Lexus RC Rear Passenger Seats
2019 Lexus RC Trunk Space
  • Trunk Volume
    10.4 ft³

RC Infotainment and Features

Features

Standard interior features equipped to all RC models include SmartAccess entry with push-button Start/Stop, Drive Mode Select capabilities, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and dual-zone climate control with interior air filter, smog sensor, and automatic recirculation mode. The driver's seat is power-adjustable in ten ways, with eight available adjustments for the front passenger. Heated and ventilated front seats are only standard in the AWD models. Opting for the F-Sport variant includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink garage door opener, heated and ventilated front seats with enhanced bolsters, a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel that has a power tilt-and-telescope function. Additionally, the shift knob in this trim level is unique, and instrumentation nodding back to the Lexus LFA is included, namely a G-force monitor, and a turbo-boost gauge for the RWD RC 300 F-Sport. A power sunroof can be had too, as can adaptive variable suspension on F-Sport trims.

Infotainment

The Lexus Multimedia System featured in all RC models has the standard Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0 installed, and is composed of a seven-inch color display and Lexus' premium ten-speaker sound system. Scout GPS Link is compatible and features MapStream and TurnStream modes which are complimentary for the first three years of ownership. For 2019, the infotainment system has been upgraded to include Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality, and the Enform Remote App allows for smartwatch and Alexa integration. On higher trims, a large 10.3-inch infotainment screen is equipped, while sound can be optionally pumped through a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound system.

RC Problems and Reliability

None of the RC models for the past few years have been subject to any recalls by the NHTSA, and in general, no drivers have yet lodged any serious complaints about recent RC models. J.D. Power conferred the 2019 Lexus RC with an exceptional predicted reliability rating of four-and-a-half out of five. This is on par for a Lexus vehicle, and above average for the segment. Lexus covers the RC with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

RC Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety assigned the 2019 Lexus RC the highest score of Good in six individually conducted crash tests. The NHTSA has not yet provided overall crash test evaluation scores for the 2019 RC.

Key Safety Features

Eight airbags, including dual front knee airbags, are incorporated on all RC models, and a rearview backup camera, as well as the Lexus Safety System+, are standard; the latter includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and intelligent high beams. The Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect is complimentary for the first ten years of ownership. F-Sport models additionally receive a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, which is available as standalone options on the other trim levels. This also includes intuitive parking assist and premium triple-beam LED headlamps.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Lexus RC a good car?

For a coupe focused toward luxury, the Lexus RC is a good car. Barring the cramped rear seats and limited trunk and cargo capacity that prove to be subpar to chief rivals, the RC is otherwise an excellently built coupe adorned with an upscale interior and equipped with a host of appreciable comfort and convenience features - topped with classic Lexus finesse. It is also one of the safest coupes on the market, with perfect crash test evaluations from the IIHS, a Superior rating for crash prevention technology, and a near-perfect predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power. Furthermore, the RC is equipped with a comprehensive range of safety features and advanced driver assists as standard, which are not all available on competitors. The RC also offers three varying powertrain options and the choice between RWD and AWD models, giving the buyer a wide scope to choose from. The optional packages include a good range of features overall to add value to your investment and result in the RC being a superior luxury coupe with an appealing aesthetic, even if it isn't a thundering performer.

What's the Price of the 2019 Lexus RC?

With a starting MSRP of $41,145, the RWD RC 300 is the cheapest model in the lineup. This increases to $43,835 for the AWD RC 300. The RWD RC 350 holds an initial price of $44,075, which increases to $46,240 when equipped with all-wheel-drive. Choosing the RWD RC models in the F-Sport guise will increase the price by $6,715 overall while optioning the all-wheel-drive for this trim will increase the price by $6,200. All the MSRP values given are exclusive of tax, registration, and licensing, and exclude Lexus' delivery, processing, and handling fee of $1,025.

2019 Lexus RC Models

The 2019 Lexus RC range comprises two basic models, namely the RC 300 and RC 350, each featured in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, with an optional F-Sport variant available in combination with either. The RWD RC 300 is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive version upgrades to a 3.5-liter V6 engine, and a six-speed automatic gearbox. The RC 350 models boast a dialed-up version of the 3.5-liter V6 powertrain mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the AWD configuration has a six-speed auto. Additional differences are inside the cabin, with the AWD models featuring heated and ventilated front seats as standard; the RWD 350 is also equipped with a lateral performance damper, which is unique to the other models.

Rear-wheel drive F-Sport derivatives receive two-piece front brake rotors with high-friction brake pads and 19-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels in Dark Graphite finish. All-wheel-drive versions are equipped with all-season tires, as opposed to summer tires that are standard on other models. The RWD RC F-Sport models also receive exclusive access to a few optional add-ons, including a Torsen limited-slip rear differential and orange brake calipers, while the RWD RC 350 F-Sport can be equipped with Lexus dynamic handling through rear-wheel steering, as well as variable-ratio steering. The RWD RC 300 F-Sport receives a turbo-boost gauge exclusively.

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
$41,145
RC 350
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,075
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
$47,860
RC 350 F Sport
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$50,790
See All 2019 Lexus RC Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Available for all models is a $1,645 Navigation Package which augments the vehicle with a navigation system featuring a 10.3-in color multimedia display and Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation. Also added, is the Lexus Enform Destination Assist, dynamic voice command, and an electrochromic (auto-dimming) rear-view mirror with HomeLink garage door opener.

The optional $2,725 Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package includes the Navigation Package as well as a premium Mark Levinson 17-speaker, 835-watt, 7.1-channel surround sound audio system with Clari-Fi audio processing. The Premium Package costs $2,390 if equipped to RWD models, and $1,950 for AWD configurations. This also adds the Lexus Memory System for the driver's seat, outside mirrors, and steering column, heated and ventilated front seats, electrochromic heated outside mirrors with auto tilt-down function, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. All F-Sport models have the Premium and Navigation Packages as standard.

What Lexus RC Model Should I Buy?

We recommend the RWD RC 350 F-Sport by virtue of the enhanced 3.5-liter V6 engine and smooth eight-speed auto transmission along with the additional performance-based underpinnings it receives as standard and bespoke options. Delivering the additional ponies and torque, this model still remains relatively fuel-efficient and is equipped with the F-Sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension and upgraded brake system, which improves the ride quality and handling dynamics substantially. This also offers Sport S+ and Custom drive modes for a much more engaging driving experience, and a more athletic drive. Other than offering enhanced underpinnings above the other models, it also includes features such as navigation, a 10.3-inch color multimedia display, and heated and ventilated front seats with enhanced support bolsters. Achieving a great balance between comfortable elegance and fun-to-drive performance, the 350 F-Sport is our bet for best-in-range value.

Check out other Lexus RC Styles?

2019 Lexus RC Comparisons

2019 Lexus RC
2019 Lexus RC

2019 Lexus RC vs Lexus LC

If you're looking for a performance-oriented luxury coupe then the LC 500 is the obvious choice. It's equipped with a thumping 5.0-liter V8 engine and performance-tuned underpinnings that have the vehicle racing from 0-60 mph in just under five seconds - a full second quicker off the line than the fastest standard RC model. Considering that the LC 500 is a sportier grand touring coupe, it additionally outperforms the RC based on the fact that it also manages to deliver luxury - not only in terms of ride quality but through an opulent cabin, rich in comfort and convenience features. As both are Lexus vehicles, they share the unfortunate disadvantage of an unintuitive and frustrating infotainment system. At more than double the price of the RC, the LC offers a superior and refined driving experience and enhanced luxury, making it the superior coupe against any of the RC's. However, most buyers won't make use of the LC's performance, and the RC may well be a viable alternative at half the price.

See Lexus LC Review

2019 Lexus RC vs BMW 4 Series Coupe

Where the German contender may prove more appealing is in its turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, which produces 326 hp and 332 lb-ft. The upper-level RC trims don't offer a turbocharged engine and don't even come close to the level of performance offered by the 4 Series, which is a dynamically superior driver's coupe. The standard feature list of the BMW is more comprehensive than that of the RC range, too, and includes power-adjustable front sport seats, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, ambient cabin lighting, and BMW's iDrive infotainment system with navigation through an 8.8-inch display - a vast improvement over Lexus' infuriating system. Overall, the BMW is a more sporting and assertive vehicle when compared to the RC, and still offers a satisfying balance of comfort, capability, and cutting-edge technology. The RC is more luxurious, but at the expense of several attributes key to the essence of a coupe in this class. For this reason, the 4 Series is the better vehicle.

See BMW 4 Series Coupe Review

Lexus RC Popular Comparisons

2019 Lexus RC Video Reviews