Coupes—especially luxury coupes—are making a big comeback these days thanks in large part to their cutting-edge designs, and the 2017 Lexus RC 350 is leading the charge. Standing between the entry-level RC Turbo and the track-ready RC F, the 2017 Lexus RC 350 is a combination of performance and affordability wrapped in a stunning body that shares nothing with its sedan counterpart, the Lexus IS.
With several years having passed since the RC debuted for the 2015 model year, we’ve already had a chance to test drive this car’s key rivals such as the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5, Cadillac ATS Coupe and Infiniti Q60. Needless to say, with rivals like these, this isn’t a segment for the faint of heart, so we recently hopped in a 2017 Lexus RC 350 to see how this eye-catching coupe stands up to its equally sporty and stylish competition.
2017 Lexus RC 350 Exterior
Just in case you’re wondering, the RC’s name stands for “radical coupe,” and radical is the best way to describe the styling of the 2017 Lexus RC 350. Until the bigger LC came along, the Lexus RC was probably the closest you could get to buying what looked like a production version of a concept car. The thing that surprised me the most about this car is how much attention it attracted wherever it was parked; a notable design feat for a car that was first introduced almost exactly four years ago.
Of course, the biggest styling element on the RC is its face where the spindle grille is instantly eye catching. Love it or hate it, this grille is hard to miss, while the sloped front end and bullet-shaped headlights show just how daring Lexus designers have gotten in recent years. This tester’s appearance was made even more appealing with options including the triple beam LED headlights ($1,160), 19-inch alloy wheels with a V-spoke design ($795) and the Infrared paint job ($595).
2017 Lexus RC 350 Interior
While the exterior of the RC can easily be described as radical, the interior has more of a refined look and feel to it. The instrument panel is identical to the one found in the IS, and the RC also has a similar driver-focused cabin. The seats are obviously built for comfort without too much side bolstering, and while this might be a bad thing for enthusiasts, the RC 350 F Sport (or RC F) might be a better choice for these buyers. Above all else, the 2017 Lexus RC 350 shows that Lexus is still a dominating force when it comes to interior designs and cabin materials, and this tester looked amazing with the tan perforated leather contrasted by the black trim and metallic accents.
The interior of this RC 350 was made even better with options like the $2,995 Luxury Package, $1,470 navigation system and the $1,100 sunroof. If you want the most luxury out of the RC 350, the Luxury Package is the way to go with rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated and cooled front seats, power tilt and telescoping steering column and driver’s seat memory. As for the navigation and infotainment system, these are controlled by the intuitive Remote Touch Interface controller.
Generally speaking, coupes aren’t usually purchased for their practicality, but the RC 350 does deliver a decent amount of cabin space. Headroom and legroom are no problem for the driver and front passenger, and even the two back seats—while still designed for kids or your jacket or purse – still have enough space to fit adults in a pinch. On paper, the trunk’s 10.4 cubic feet of luggage space might sound small, but the large opening and low lift over make it easy to get stuff in and out.
2017 Lexus RC 350 Powertrain
Lexus does a good job of making it easy to distinguish the various trim levels of its cars with the “350” in the 2017 Lexus RC 350 standing for the 3.5-liter V-6. This engine features Toyota’s D4-S fuel injection offering a combination of both direct and port fuel injection helping to balance performance and efficiency. Output is rated at 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, which feels surprisingly good considering the coupe’s hefty curb weight of 3,748 pounds. Acceleration is decent with Lexus claiming a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds (along with a quarter mile time of 14.3 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph).
Rear-wheel-drive versions of the RC 350 mate this engine with a smooth and sporty eight-speed automatic transmission that not only gives quick acceleration but also helps with fuel economy. The EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway**, which are easily achieved even when occasionally pushing the RC to its limits. Buyers looking for a sportier offering might want to check out the F Sport or RC F models, but the 2017 Lexus RC 350 is still a standout in terms of what it can do for handling and acceleration.
2017 Lexus RC 350 Safety
Although the 2017 Lexus RC 350 has yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this coupe has received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This compact coupe comes standard with a backup camera and eight airbags including driver and front passenger knee airbags, while our tester added some high-tech safety goodies such as the $500 radar cruise control with pre-collision system and the Blind Spot Monitor with Cross Traffic Alert part of the Luxury Package.
2017 Lexus RC 350 Overall
After spending a week in the 2017 Lexus RC 350, it’s easy to see that this coupe is much more than just a pretty face. Unlike some of its contemporaries, the RC isn’t brutal to drive around town, but it isn’t afraid to carve some corners either. If you’re just looking for a stylish coupe, the base RC has an affordable starting price of $40,155*, but the 2017 Lexus RC 350 starts at $43,010. Loaded up with just about every option available, the RC 350 used for this test drive review had a reasonable as-tested price of $53,985.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lexus dealership and test drive the stylish and luxurious 2017 Lexus RC today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.