Looks aren’t everything
Roseville, CA- This is a sports car that looks cool and inviting. However, as the old saying goes, looks aren’t everything.
The 2020 Lexus RC 300 is an attractive vehicle with some nice angles and curves that definitely create a pleasing eye appeal. But the inherent problem here is the RC 300 delivers disappointing performance that belies its good looks.
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Judging by its historic sales figures, one would think the RC brand (which includes the RC 350 and 300 F) would be on the endangered list.
Lexus sold a record-number 14,784 RC models in its first full year (2015). Sales have dipped significantly over the last four years, including 2019 when 4,591 cars were sold. Expect another lackluster sales year with only 1,878 sold through July 2020.
Branded officially as a luxury coupe, the RC 300 weighs 3,800 pounds, which is pretty hefty for a sports car. While some might argue calling the RC 300 a sports car, there’s no debating the performance issues that are surpassed by many of its competitors.
The base model RC 300 is a rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that produces 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. One expects some excitement, yet instead gets a tepid 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds.
If increased performance is the goal, choosing the RC 300 F Sport is the way to go. The all-wheel-drive coup is equipped with a 3.5-liter, V6 that generates 260 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. It’s a full second faster than the base model, going 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds.
Regardless of the choice, fuel economy is acceptable in both trim models. The base RC 300 gets 21-30 mpg and the F sport delivers 18-24 mpg.
Though sluggish for a sports car at the initial onset, once the RC 300 gets moving the performance improves and it can be fun to drive. It has plenty of freeway passing power.
2020 Lexus RC 300
- Performance: turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 241 horsepower; 3.5-liter, V6, 260 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 21-30 mpg 18-24 mpg
- Price estimate: $41,400 to $48,800
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 4 years/60,000; corrosion: 6 years/unlimited
Despite the disappointing performance, there’s a number of good reasons to buy the RC 300. It features terrific interior craftsmanship, is one of the quietest cars in its class, and because it’s a Lexus, it will likely keep its value.
There’s definitely a fun factor in driving the RC 300, thanks to its fine handling. The steering is quite responsive and if the desire is to attack corners, that can be accomplished with no worries.
On the safety side, every RC comes equipped with blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Other than the inconvenient infotainment interface, there’s much to like about the interior. It is well-built with attractive wood trim and high-quality material. Like most luxury vehicles, this one has lots of standard features that include the newly added Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility.
We feel the touchpad controls require too much attention for any driver. The system – both physical and touch-sensitive – takes a while to master due to the center stack layout and use of multiple types of inputs.
Seating is comfortable up front, yet like most coupes, the back seat is hard to access and cramped for any adult. On a more positive note, the RC 300 cargo area (10.4 cubic-foot) is spacious enough to accommodate a large golf bag and several other items.
There is definitely some downside to the 2020 Lexus RC 300, performance being the largest issue. Overlook that and you’re getting a beautifully-designed sports car that is fun to drive due to its excellent handling.