New 2018 Lexus RC Coupe New 2018
Lexus RC Coupe

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2018 Lexus RC lives on the exciting side of the luxury brand’s extensive lineup. With aggressive styling, available all-wheel drive and up to 467 horsepower, the 2018 Lexus RC is a standout in the luxury-coupe class and it has struck a chord with younger buyers as it battles the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5. Four models are available starting with the 241-horsepower rear-wheel-drive (RWD) RC Turbo at around $41,000. Buyers looking for all-wheel drive (AWD) can step up to the V6-powered 260-horsepower RC 300 or the 311-horsepower RC 350, which is also available with rear-wheel drive. Each is also offered with the desirable F Sport package that adds a sport suspension, sport seats and about $4,000 to the bottom line. The top-dog V8-powered RC F costs north of $65,000 and competes with the BMW M4 and Audi S5. All models get an automatic transmission.

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You'll Like This Car If...

If you’re looking for a sexy, sophisticated and powerful 2-door coupe, maybe with all-wheel drive, then you’ll like the new 2018 Lexus RC. It packs all the luxury, reliability and features you expect in a Lexus, but also delivers the thrill, passion and visual impact coupe buyers desire.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Lexus still struggles with its infotainment interface. You get used to it over time, but the systems in the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5, Cadillac ATS and Infiniti Q60 are just easier to use. Also, some of the competition offers a manual transmission, while Lexus does not.

What's New for 2018

For 2018, the Lexus RC 300 and RC 350 models get five more horsepower. Lexus has also increased the size of the infotainment screen to 10.3 inches, added onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi and improved the F Sport’s Drive Mode Select system with a custom mode. The Lexus Safety System+, which includes multiple driver aids, is now standard.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The 2018 Lexus RC coupe backs up its sexy shape and aggressive design with strong performance and an engaging driving experience. It’s more fun to drive than most Lexus models. Although it’s heavier than many of its 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 200t, accelerates quickly and delivers the same cat-like reflexes as the RC 350. More demanding drivers should step up to the V6-powered RC 300 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.

Favorite Features

LEXUS SAFETY SYSTEM+
Now standard on every 2018 Lexus RC, Lexus Safety System+ adds a list of active-safety systems and driver aids including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, which will apply the brakes for you in emergency situations. Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Dynamic Cruise Control will keep a safe distance from the car ahead.

DRIVE MODE SELECT
This system is standard on all 2018 Lexus RC models, and it allows the driver to customize the coupe’s throttle response, transmission tuning and gauge cluster. Twist the knob on the console and choose among Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Eco. F Sport models also get an adjustable suspension and a Custom mode, which saves the driver’s favorite settings.

Vehicle Details

Interior

It’s a 2-door coupe, which means the 2018 Lexus RC has long doors, which can be an issue in tight parking spaces. It seats four as long as the rear-seat passengers are small and don’t mind cramped quarters. Up front the seats are comfortable in all trims and feature extra bolstering in RC Sport and RC F models, and the stylistic instrumentation combines a digital speedometer with a larger center-mounted analog tachometer. The new much larger 10.3-inch infotainment screen is wonderful, but the touch pad and joystick interface, although improved, can still be frustrating to use. In the Lexus tradition, materials are first-rate and the fit/finish is exacting.

Exterior

From its large Lexus "spindle" grille -- extra-large on the RC F model -- to its fins and other aggressive details, the new 2018 Lexus RC is anything but boring. It looks more menacing and distinctive than its European and American competitors and bears a striking resemblance to the exotic Lexus LFA supercar of a few years ago. 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.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2018 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 service and onboard Wi-Fi. The 10-speaker audio system includes HD Radio, dual USB inputs and Bluetooth streaming with 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.

Notable Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

Lexus’ RC coupe for 2018 offers a choice of four engines. Filling out the bottom end is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 241 horsepower in the RC 200t. The 2018 RC 300 AWD comes with a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 260 horsepower, while the RC 350 and 350 AWD share a 3.5-liter V6 making 311 horsepower. Power for rear-wheel-drive Lexus RC models is routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel-drive models have to make do with an older, less responsive 6-speed automatic. Topping the range is the 5.0-liter 467-horsepower V8 in the RC F, which is also connected to an 8-speed automatic. Note that while Lexus RC models have an edge against their BMW foes in horsepower, they aren't quite as fuel-efficient.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (RC 200t)
241 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,650-4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 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: 19/26 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: 19/28 mpg (RWD), 19/26 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

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Pricing Notes

The 2018 Lexus RC 200t has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over the $41,000 mark, including the $995 destination charge. If you want all-wheel drive, the RC 300 AWD starts at about $43,750, about $1,300 less than the rear-wheel-drive RC 350. The AWD RC 350 starts just over $46,000. Those prices are a little less than for 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 $65,000, 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.

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