Although its looks write a check that the engine can't cash, the 2017 Lexus RC 350 is an entertaining back roads corner-carver that's also very much at home as a highway cruiser.

Pricing and Equipment

The RC 350 has a base MSRP of $43,985 (including a $975 destination charge). That can rise to over $59,000 an all-wheel-drive example with all the options including the F Sport package. After reviewing dealer inventories, it would seem that most buyers will likely pick a rear-wheel-drive RC 350, with navigation, fog lights, a moonroof, rear park assist, and radar-based cruise control for an MSRP of about $53,000 and features that include:

  • Heated outside mirrors
  • Siri Eyes Free
  • LED fog, brake, and daytime running lights
  • Bluetooth audio and phone capability
  • Seven-inch color infotainment display
  • Automatic dual zone climate control
  • Automatic headlights
  • Aluminum and wood interior trim
  • Proximity key with push-button start

A rear view camera with dynamic guidelines is standard. Blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking are offered as stand-alone options.

The only engine offered on the RC 350 is a 306 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that's paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, although the broader RC class is available with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder in the RC Turbo (previously called the RC 200t) as well as a detuned 3.5-liter V6 that works with an all-wheel-drive system, in the RC 300. Lexus also offers a V8-powered RC F, for those that demand more extreme performance. The RC Turbo, RC 300, and RC F are listed separately.

Performance Pros

Lexus RC 350
  • The 3.5-liter engine gets an EPA-estimated 19/28/22 city/highway/combined mpg, while our own observed fuel economy was 21.2 miles per gallon in some pretty aggressive city driving.
  • Not only does the steering system offer good feedback to the driver, the brakes also offer a nice initial bite and are easy to modulate.
  • Call it the best of both worlds. The optional F Sport package's Adaptive Variable Suspension stiffens up the shocks when cornering in Sport and Sport + modes for back roads corner carving. Switch to "Normal" mode and it transforms the RC 350 into a comfortable, all-day, highway cruiser.

Performance Cons

  • Power from the 3.5-liter V6 is certainly adequate, but those 306 horses have to move a curb weight of 3,748 pounds. The result is a 0-60 time of about 5.8 seconds – about the same as a V6-powered Toyota Camry.
  • The electric power steering system offers good feedback, but to improve upon that you have to order the optional $1,900 Variable Gear Ratio Steering package.
  • A manual transmission would probably make the RC 350 a much more engaging vehicle to drive, but like the rest of the Lexus range, there isn't one available.

Interior Pros

  • The sport seats are some of the best we've ever encountered, offering a nice balance between the aggressive bolsters and softer, supportive seat back and cushion.
  • Although the seven-inch infotainment screen sits relatively high on the dashboard, it's recessed slightly making it easier to read in direct sunlight.
  • The pass-through between the trunk and the split/folding back seat features a wide opening for more versatility, enabling us to carry a road bike without having to remove the wheels.
  • Everywhere you look – even the sides of the center console - you'll find luxurious, soft-touch surfaces.

Interior Cons

Lexus RC 350
  • The rear seats are ridiculously tiny. Small children might fit, but it would take a contortionist to install a baby seat back there.
  • The remote track pad controller for the infotainment system, although an improvement over the haptic-feedback joystick, is still way too distracting to use.
  • The driver's view out the front and sides is acceptable, but the sloping roofline and wide C-pillar hinder the rear three-quarters view.
  • The low, sloping roofline and aggressive front seat bolsters make getting in and out of the front seats difficult.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Lexus RC 350 is equally at home hitting corners on back roads as it is cruising on the interstate, which is an unusual balance for a Lexus.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Although Lexus has ditched the uber-annoying haptic-touch joystick found in many of its models, the touchpad that replaces it is just as distracting.

The Bottom Line

Although the Lexus RC 350 may not be as quick as its styling might suggest, a luxurious interior and nimble handling make it a solid contender in the luxury sport coupe segment.