Now five years since first introduced, a fairly significant face-lift makes its way to the RC coupe for the 2019 model year. A new front fascia incorporates altered headlamp assemblies that now incorporate the signature daytime running lamp, and does away with the once optional front fog lamps. Out back Lexus continues the progress with a fair revision of the bumper cover and tail lamps, subtle but remarkable touches.
Our specific example is the RC350 AWD, finished in this spectacular Blue Vortex Metallic. This paint is so brilliant in person that my disappointment for not being of the F-Sport variant vanished almost immediately. We were disappointed to see the continued use of incandescent bulbs for the rear turn signals, especially considering every other light source has seemingly gone the way of Light Emitting Diodes.
Among all of the other updates, the infotainment may be of the most significant improvements yet, standard issue Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa join an updated 10″ display. Despite the continued use of the frustrating touch pad that we’ve experienced before in other Lexus products, a well integrated Apple CarPlay allowed an infotainment system we don’t adore to become far more tolerable. We found some of the built in features like weather information are a bit too far buried in sub menus that are vastly too complicated to navigate while driving for average Joe Consumer. The 17 speaker Mark Levinson audio system is very well tailored, with great presence and clarity.
Outside of updates to the infotainment system the interior of the Lexus RC350 is remarkably unchanged. A clean design language is continued with an ergonomically favorable layout with a lovely low slung driving position. Most of the controls were easy to see and reach with the exception of the controls for dash brightness, windshield wiper deicer, parking sensor on/off switch, auto high beams, and blind spot monitoring. This particular unit was specified without the optional $1,100 sunroof, something that was dearly missed for providing natural light into the dark cockpit. Following past Lexus experiences the RC350 we tested had the $150 stand alone heated steering wheel that is only partially heated, leaving the top and bottom segments of the wheel to acclimate on its own. We’d like to see exactly what the logic is behind this.
The Lexus RC starts all variants as rear wheel drive, with optional all wheel drive in select configurations. The all wheel drive system joined with the driver controllable “Snow Mode” allowed for a very surefooted driving experience through winter in the mountains. In a climate such as this dedicated snow tires would certainly be suggested, but the standard issue Michellin all season tires did the trick without much complaint.
Optional standalone triple beam LED headlamps ring in at a spendy $1,160 but provide some serious visuals, offering a much more striking curb appeal than the standard issue headlamp. Meanwhile high powered headlamp washers are included along side a windshield wiper de-icer, hydrophobic front door glass, and a rapid interior heater in the very affordable “All Weather Package” for a mere $220.
The Lexus RC is designed to play in the same arena as the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Audi A5, and the Infiniti’s Q60 which sells in similar figures. Although the driving experience is far from Germanic, it’s also far from the numb, sofa-like experience from Lexus of yesteryear. An as-tested MSRP of $54,630 proves this packaging is cost competitive, but not a bargain luxury coupe one might expect.
The Lexus RC350 AWD is miles away from being a sports car, but provides such a well rounded experience in an interesting package very few people will care. Taking the RC350 AWD on a long weekend adventure to the Rockies in the winter is kind of like bringing a knife to a gun fight, and winning.