Lexus started the 2015 model year with one version of the then-new RC series performance coupe: the RC 350. A year later, four varieties were on sale for 2016, including an RC 200t base model and a super-powered, track-ready RC F. That made the RC 300, with a lower-powered V6 and a lower price than its RC 350 mate, the midlevel member of the regular RC trio.
Visually, the RC coupes differ little. Each is highlighted by a familiar, sizable spindle-style grille. Their sleek, sporty bodies seem to exude muscularity, whichever engine lies beneath the hood. Unlike the RC 350, which comes with either rear-drive or all-wheel drive, the RC 300 is offered only with all-wheel drive. As with other Lexus models, an F Sport version is available.
What's New for 2017
Standard equipment now includes a Scout GPS Link. Triple LED premium headlights now are optional for the Luxury Package and the F Sport. The base grille gets a black finish, while 18- and 19-inch wheels have revised finishes.
Choosing Your Lexus RC 300
Like the more powerful RC 350 coupe, the RC 300 isn’t easily identified as a Lexus, apart from its signature Lexus grille. Rather than the 306-horsepower V6 in the RC 350, the RC 300 holds a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 255 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive comes standard, along with selectable driving modes and a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph differs only slightly between the RC 300 and the all-wheel-drive RC 350, at 6.3 and 6.0 seconds, respectively. Fuel economy of the RC 300 is estimated at a not-so-thrifty 19 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway (21 mpg in combined driving).
Picking an RC 300 rather than the all-wheel drive version of the RC 350 saves about $2,400, while losing 51 horsepower. An RC 300 is about $2,600 higher than the turbocharged RC 200t, but that one has rear-drive, which may not be a wise choice in snowbelt regions. Plenty of buyers can survive without that extra power; but still, when you’re talking about cars that top $40,000, the price difference doesn’t seem massive.