2022 Lexus RC Review

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Aug 10, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Lexus deals!

Looking as sleek and sporty as it did when first introduced for the 2015 model year, the 4-passenger Lexus RC is one of just a handful of small luxury coupes available in today's SUV-saturated market. Seven years into its model run, the RC has barely changed—testimony to its enduring design.

While the pool of luxury coupe buyers is a small one, Lexus makes the RC available with a surprisingly varied menu of powertrain choices to suit different tastes, except, that is, for a hybrid or electrified version. The broad RC lineup consists of the 4-cylinder turbo-powered RC 300 rear-wheel drive (RWD), V6-powered RC 300 all-wheel drive (AWD), V6-powered RC 350 RWD and AWD, and V8-powered RC F RWD.

For 2022, the RC carries over from the 2021 model year with no substantive changes.

What Owners Say About the Compact Premium Car Segment - Find the best Lexus deals!

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Infrared Front Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

The Lexus RC competes in the Compact Premium Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2022 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 75 percent of new Compact Premium Car buyers are male (vs. 62 percent for the industry), and the median age of a new Compact Premium Car buyer is 51 years (vs. 54).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Compact Premium Car segment in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Powertrain
  • Driving feel
  • Exterior styling
  • Setting up and starting
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Infotainment 
  • Driving comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Getting in and out

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Lexus RC - Find the best Lexus deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes an RC 350 F Sport AWD equipped with the following options:

  • Navigation/Mark Levinson audio package (10.3-inch color infotainment display, Lexus Enform dynamic navigation, dynamic voice command, destination assist, 17-speaker surround-sound premium audio)
  • Triple-beam LED headlamps
  • Park assist
  • Infrared premium paint
  • Power moonroof
  • F Sport heated steering wheel
  • Rear spoiler
  • Door edge guards
  • Illuminated door sills
  • Carpet trunk mat
  • Rear bumper applique

The test vehicle's price came to $59,845, including the $1,075 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Front Seats

Photo: Ron Sessions

As with most coupes, the RC's seat height is low, but large doors and modest lower cushion lateral bolsters that are easy to slide over when getting in and out ease access to the front buckets. In all RC trims but the limited-production, leather-clad RC F, Lexus covers the seats in durable and easy-to-clean NuLuxe faux leather that's perforated in the F Sport model. All trims feature power-operated front seats, which Lexus also heats on AWD variants.

The F Sport adds more substantial lateral bolstering to the front seatbacks, but both the base and F Sport seats achieve a high degree of support without sacrificing comfort. The front seats are all-day comfortable on longer drives. The F Sport adds front-seat heat and ventilation for both RWD and AWD models, as well as a driver's seat memory feature. A standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter upgrade to perforated leather for the F Sport, which also gets a power-adjustable steering column and a heated steering wheel.

The material quality is excellent. Most touchpoints are either soft-touch or padded, including the sides of the center console and armrests. An analog clock dead center in the dash hints at Old World quality. Switchgear is straightforward and easy to use. The driver faces a high-resolution LFA supercar-inspired color monitor that is reconfigurable in F Sport trim and changes with different drive modes.

Standard niceties include dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage-door opener, keyless access, push-button start, and paddle shifters. A power tilt/slide moonroof is optional. Upgrading to the F Sport adds aluminum pedals, a black headliner, and rain-sensing wipers.

Storage is in short supply. The RC's glovebox is on the small side, as is the bin under the center armrest where a pair of USB-A ports is hiding. Door-pocket space is decent, but aside from a pair of cupholders, there's not much space for small trip detritus because the infotainment touchpad, drive-mode selector, and seat heat/ventilation controls hog most of it.

Although it has a pair of seat belts, the rear seat is generally suitable only for kids, pets, and packages. Adult passengers can fit back there for short stints, but only if the front seats are adjusted as far forward as possible.

That said, Lexus split the rear seatbacks 60/40. When folded down, they create a generous, continuous space with the 10.4-cubic-foot trunk for carrying longer items such as golf clubs, a step ladder, and such.

2022 Lexus RC Multimedia Infotainment System Review

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

When Lexus introduced the RC for the 2015 model year, its infotainment system display size and console-mounted remote-touch controller were up to date and typical of that offered in the luxury coupe space. Seven model years later, many infotainment systems in the luxury segment have moved to larger, free-standing displays that are within easy reach of the driver and function as touchscreens, in many cases eliminating the space-robbing remote-touch controllers on the center console. The 2022 Lexus RC is not one of them, continuing with the old-style system. Its details include:

  • Base touchscreen size is a smallish 7 inches
  • Console-mounted remote-touch infotainment screen controller
  • Wired (via USB cable) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Alexa compatible
  • Voice command
  • 10-speaker premium AM/FM stereo
  • HD Radio with complimentary traffic flow and weather
  • 3-month trial of SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Optional 17-speaker, 835-watt Mark Levinson surround-sound audio with Clari-Fi technology
  • 3-month trial of Lexus Enform 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi for up to five devices
  • CD player
  • Two Type-A USB ports
  • Optional high-resolution 10.3-inch touchscreen with split-screen display and embedded dynamic navigation (no charge for the first three years), enhanced dynamic voice command, and Lexus Enform destination assist

By today's standards, the Lexus RC's standard 7-inch infotainment screen is small in its competitive set. It and the 10.3-inch screen included with the optional navigation package are set far back from the driver and front passenger, so primary access to the screen functions is via a jumpy, non-linear helicopter landing pad-like remote touchpad on the console.

As for volume and tuning of either the standard 10-speaker audio system or optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound one, dirt simple analog volume and tuning knobs bracketing the CD player beneath the climate controls allow for quick adjustments without the need to scroll through distracting menus. Both the RC's available audio systems include a CD player, which is a rarity in the market today.

Lexus equipped the RC 350 F Sport test car with optional navigation that includes Dynamic Voice Command, which responds based on the car's current location. It was able to select requested radio stations, change audio sources, and find a wide range of destinations quickly and accurately.

The system easily paired my Samsung Android phone via Bluetooth, and I could make and receive phone calls hands-free.

Equipped with Clari-Fi signal-enhancing technology, the optional Mark Levinson premium surround-sound audio system and its 17 speakers delivered an immersive 835 watts of sound and crystal-clear fidelity at all volumes.

What It's Like to Drive the 2022 Lexus RC

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Infrared Side Profile

Photo: Ron Sessions

I drove two versions of the Lexus RC: an RC 350 F Sport AWD powered by a 3.5-liter V6 and an RC F with a rumbly 5.0-liter V8 engine under the hood. Lexus sells but a handful of the RC F model, so this review focuses on the volume-selling RC 350 F Sport.

There are three engine choices in the 2022 Lexus RC. The RC 300 rear-drive model has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, offering middling 7-second zero-to-60-mph performance. The 4-cylinder turbo imparts neither the rich, torque-heavy feel nor the sound expected in the luxury sport coupe class. Further, the 4-cylinder turbo doesn't deliver much of a fuel-economy boost over that of the V6.

When you add AWD to the RC 300, Lexus swaps the slightly boomy 4-cylinder for a more melodious-sounding 3.5-liter V6 engine. In this application, the 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 260 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, dropping the zero-to-60 time to just over 6 seconds.

Both RWD and AWD versions of the RC 350 F Sport get a higher-tuned iteration of the 3.5-liter V6 rated at a more enthusiastic 311 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60-mph runs with this engine drop just below the 6-second mark, which gets the RC's performance closer to that of its European rivals. Rear-drive RC 350s pair with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while AWD versions get a 6-speed auto. Both transmissions are smooth-shifting and never get a gear wrong. Lexus provides steering-wheel shift paddles for manual shift control.

The limited-production RC F packs a muscular 472-hp 5.0-liter V8 with 395 pound-feet of torque hooked to a Sport Direct Shift 8-speed automatic with rev-matching downshifts and 4-second zero-to-60-mph capability. The rumbly V8-powered coupe boasts split-size 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S summer performance tires, quad exhaust, large wheel flares, oversize Brembo brakes, and track-tuned adaptive variable suspension. It's a rare Lexus muscle coupe with impressive capabilities but perhaps not the perfect choice for a daily driver.

That task falls to the RC 350 F Sport, the test car for this report. It offers enough performance to be entertaining while maintaining Lexus levels of comfort and luxury. When equipped with AWD, the RC 350 F Sport delivers all-season traction from its rear-drive-biased on-demand system. The F Sport trim brings adaptive variable damping, which takes the edge off sharp impacts on bumpy roads while maintaining vertical wheel control over fast pavement and sharp corners. The F Sport's electric steering has a nicely weighted feel, and even with the 19-inch all-season tires underpinning the AWD test car offered good turn-in response. Ditto for the F Sport's brakes, which presented good top-of-pedal response and linear feel. Composure on twisty back roads was quite good. You can also equip the rear-drive version with optional summer performance tires and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential.

Lexus Safety System+ Review

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Reversing Camera Display

Photo: Ron Sessions

Along with the Lexus LC premium coupe and GX SUV, the automaker equips the 2022 RC with the Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and related safety features. This older driver-assistance and safety suite does not incorporate some of the more advanced technologies included in other Lexus models fitted with the updated LSS+ 2.0, LSS+ 2.5, and LSS+ 3.0 systems. Those newer systems provide improved functionality for bicyclist detection, low-light pedestrian detection, left turn and oncoming traffic detection, adaptive cruise control curve slowing, lane centering, and road-sign assist. The basics of the RC's system are the following:

  • Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assistance with mild steering assist
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Smart adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability

In addition to the LSS+ features, the RC comes standard with:

  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic warning
  • Reversing camera with trajectory lines
  • Eight airbags

Lexus also optioned the RC 350 F Sport test car with a park-assist system. This is a sonar-based front and rear assist system that senses the proximity of objects near the front or rear bumper. The system displays an overhead view of the RC showing the closing distance and possible collision point, and sounds warning beeps with more urgency as the RC nears an obstacle. It does not apply the brakes if the driver doesn't, as in newer Lexus systems.

Unlike most other Lexus products, the automaker doesn't equip the RC with a 360-degree surround-view monitor that displays an overhead view of the car and its immediate surroundings when the driver places the transmission in Reverse. 

Also unavailable in the 2022 Lexus RC are a head-up display, driver monitoring, rear-seat reminder systemsafe-exit system, or a semi-autonomous hands-off driving mode.

The most appreciated driver-assistive tech in the Lexus RC is the standard blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems. These were standard equipment in the RC starting with the 2021 model year. In a sporty coupe such as the Lexus RC, with a low seating position, sharply sloping roofline, and small rear window, being able to be made aware of vehicles hidden from the driver's sight and approaching from the rear in adjacent lanes and the ability to detect vehicular or pedestrian cross traffic when backing out of a parking space with sightlines blocked by adjacent parked vehicles are a big deal.

2022 Lexus RC FAQ - Find the best Lexus deals!

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Split Fold Rear Seat

Photo: Ron Sessions

How much cargo space does the 2022 Lexus RC have?

At 10.4 cubic feet, the RC's trunk size is average for this class of car. However, the RC's 60/40 split rear seat folds down, offering pass-through access for longer items such as skis and golf clubs, and when lowered, easily doubles the amount of usable luggage or cargo space. Additional space is available along the sides of the trunk for gallon-size beverage containers, and you can find more room under the trunk floor for small valuables. The trunk hinges pivot into protected sleeves as the lid is closed, minimizing the chance of damage to items stored inside.

Does the 2022 Lexus RC get good gas mileage?

As a rule, premium compact coupes are not noted for their fuel economy, instead prioritizing comfort and performance. According to EPA estimates, the RC 350 F Sport AWD with the 311-hp 3.5-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission is rated at 22 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

In 58 miles of mixed in-town and highway driving, the AWD RC 350 F Sport test vehicle achieved an indicated 22.7 mpg. With the car's 17.5-gallon fuel tank, the driving range for this trip exceeded 395 miles.

Is the 2022 Lexus RC safe?

As of this writing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not published crash-test ratings for the 2022 Lexus RC. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has tested the Lexus RC and gives the coupe Good scores for small- and moderate-offset frontal impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints, and seats.

How much is the 2022 Lexus RC?

The 2022 Lexus RC prices range from $42,820 for the rear-drive RC 300 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder model to $101,095 for the limited-production RC F Fuji Speedway 5.0-liter V8 version. The destination charge is $1,075. All-wheel drive is an extra-cost option with RC 300 and RC 350 models but is unavailable with the RC F.

What are the 2022 Lexus RC competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2022 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the Lexus IS ranks highest in the Compact Premium Car segment. The Genesis G70 and the BMW 4 Series are the next highest-ranked models.

In the 2022 APEAL Study, the Lexus IS ranks highest in the Compact Premium Car segment. No other model in the segment performs at or above the segment average.

Other 2-door premium coupe competitors to the 2022 RC include the Audi A5Infiniti Q60, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Lexus deals!

2022 Lexus RC F Sport Infrared Rear Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

Now carrying an edgy, expressive design into its eighth model year without substantive change, the Lexus brand's junior coupe continues to offer dramatic styling, a well-kitted cabin, and surprisingly luxurious ride quality for thousands of dollars less than its European competitors. The RC falls behind recently updated rivals such as the Audi A5, BMW 4 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class in performance and fuel-economy metrics, and its infotainment and driver-assistive systems are long overdue for modernization. Still, the Lexus coupe's eye-catching shape, comfortable interior, and easy-driving demeanor continue to win friends.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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