Offered with a choice of engines as well as rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the 2019 Lexus RC coupe caters to a wide swath of enthusiast drivers. However, even with the range-topping 467-horsepower RC F, the RC’s performance credentials don’t quite yet match those of its BMW and Audi rivals, and its styling might be a bit too bold for some.
You'll Like The 2019 Lexus RC If...
If you’re seeking a visually unique 2-door luxury-performance coupe, but you also want the rock-solid reputation that comes with owning a Lexus, the RC should do the trick. Available all-wheel drive helps with cornering and winter-driving conditions, and there are enough options and trims to satisfy just about any coupe-loving enthusiast.
You May Not Like The 2019 Lexus RC If...
If you’re not a fan of overly complex infotainment interfaces, you won’t like the Lexus version. Some may lament the omission of a manual transmission, while others may find the bold styling, especially that grille, a bit too over-the-top.
For 2019, the Lexus RC gets an exterior makeover focusing on revised front and rear styling. Underneath, the RC gets revised shock and spring settings, recalibrated power steering and an ECU update for the turbo models. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa make the cut, but not Android Auto.
Keeping in mind that the RC is a small coupe, don’t expect much in the way of rear-seat accommodations or front-seat headroom. That said, the RC’s interior is a very nice place to spend time. The front seats are marvelously supportive on long drives, the sightlines good in all directions, and interior materials and build quality are above reproach. Gauges are clear and easy to read, and the big 10.3-inch infotainment screen responds quickly to input. Regrettably, that input must be carried out through a rather frustrating touch pad and joystick interface. Unlike the systems in Audi, BMW or Cadillac cars, this one is difficult to operate when the vehicle is in motion, although over time we think most people will grow accustomed to it.
From its revised Lexus "spindle" grille – extra-large on the RC F model – to its fins and other aggressive details, the new 2019 Lexus RC is anything but boring. It looks more menacing and distinctive than its European and American competitors and bears a more than passing resemblance to the stunning new LC coupe. Its proportions are perfect, and its stance is properly low, especially with the larger wheels and tires worn by F Sport models. To announce its additional performance, the top-dog RC F model gets uniquely stacked exhaust pipes and additional vents and flares.
The 2019 Lexus RC coupe backs up its sexy shape and aggressive design with strong performance and an engaging driving experience.Although it’s heavier than competitors from BMW and Audi, the Lexus is quick and handles well enough for most buyers. Even the base RC turbo, which is badged the RC 300, accelerates quickly and delivers the same catlike reflexes as the RC 350. More demanding drivers should step up to the V6-powered RC 300 AWD or RC 350; you’ll appreciate the additional power over time. And the F Sport models are worth the investment for the increase in handling, although the stiff ride might be a rude awakening for longtime Lexus owners. Those seeking the ultimate Lexus performer should opt for the 467-horsepower RC F with its intoxicating V8 rumble and thrust. Still, it’s outperformed by the lighter, turbocharged BMW M4 and Cadillac ATS-V.If you're planning to buy a Lexus RC, don't forget to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for this car in your region. Also, remember that the RC wins a resale value award in the KBB 2019 Best Resale Value Awards.
The 2019 Lexus RC 300 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over the $42,000 mark, including the $1,025 destination charge. If you want all-wheel drive, the RC 300 AWD starts at about $44,850, while the rear-drive RC 350 starts just over $45,000. The AWD RC 350 starts just over $47,250. Those prices are not far from a BMW 4 Series, an Infiniti Q60 or Audi A5, but quite a bit more than the excellent Cadillac ATS coupe. If you're looking to endanger your license, the RC F starts a little over $65,700, in line with a BMW M4 coupe but several thousand more than the Audi S5. Prices climb quickly once you start adding options. Do check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying, and note that the RC should retain its value very nicely.
The 2019 Lexus RC comes as nicely equipped as you'd expect of a luxury-sports coupe. There are standard automatic climate control, a self-dimming rearview mirror, and an infotainment system with a 10.3-inch display screen, Lexus Safety System+, rearview camera, Lexus Enform Service Connect system and onboard Wi-Fi. The 10-speaker audio system includes HD Radio, dual USB inputs and Bluetooth streaming with Apple CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free iPhone integration. F Sport models get standard variable suspension and Sport+ driving mode, heated and ventilated front seats, a suspension tuned for higher performance, and a power-adjust steering wheel. RC F models include bigger brakes, front sport seats and forged BBS aluminum wheels.
The options list starts with a navigation system that uses a touch-pad controller and includes an upgraded Enform suite with services such as Yelp, Pandora and stock prices. There are also heated/ventilated front seats, a leather interior, heated steering wheel and a moonroof. The Mark Levinson premium audio system makes even your iPod sound amazing, and should top the list for music lovers. Advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring and a pre-collision system that can automatically brake the car. RC F models can add to their prowess with a torque-vectoring rear differential and carbon-fiber roof and rear spoiler.
LEXUS SAFETY SYSTEM+
Lexus knows that safety shouldn’t be a luxury, which is why it equips every RC trim with the Lexus Safety System+. Included in the package is Pre-Collision Warning with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Dynamic Cruise Control for keeping a preset distance from the car ahead.
DRIVE MODE SELECT
The 2019 RC coupe allows the driver to vary throttle response, customizing the gauge cluster and determining transmission shift points. A console-mounted twist knob allows for three settings: Normal, Sport and Sport+. On the F Sport model, drivers can save their favorite setting and adjust the suspension.
Under the Hood
The 2019 Lexus RC coupe comes in four trims, each with its own engine. The base RC 300 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 241 horsepower. Next up is the RC 300 AWD (all-wheel drive) powered by a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The RC 350 and RC 350 AWD also use a 3.5-liter V6, but one owning slightly more horsepower rated at 311. Lastly, there is the range-topping RC F, which is motivated by a 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. The AWD models still employ an outdated 6-speed automatic, but the others get a more sophisticated 8-speed unit. We should note while the horsepower for all of these engines is easily in line with most competitors, you’ll find the fuel economy in Audi and BMW cars to be slightly better.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (RC 300)
241 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,650-4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg
3.5-liter V6 (RC 300 AWD)
260 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 mpg
3.5-liter V6 (RC 350)
311 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
277 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (RWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
5.0-liter V8 (RC F)
467 horsepower @ 7,100 rpm
389 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800-5,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25 mpg
As one of only two coupes in its lineup, the 2019 Lexus RC serves a small but passionate constituency, one also well served by performance cars like the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series. The RC’s styling is clearly polarizing, not as seductive as a Jaguar F-Type but more exotic than the Infiniti Q60. Offered with a choice of turbo-4, V6 or V8 engines, as well as rear-wheel (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), the RC’s appeal spans the gamut of enthusiast drivers. At the top of the RC hierarchy is the fierce RC F, which while impressive in both its horsepower and aggressive cornering, isn’t yet up to the standard set by the BMW M4 or Audi S5.