Five years in, the Lexus RC 350 gets a refresh for the 2019 model year. Toyota boss Akio Toyoda said he wanted to infuse the Lexus brand with a new spirit, and offerings like the RC 350 show he was not just blowing smoke up your tailpipe. Toyoda says he wants to compete with the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Cadillac ATS coupe, and the RC 350 is his answer.
This week, we have been driving the 2019 Lexus RC 350 with all-wheel drive.
Lexus RC 350: What’s New For 2019?
The Lexus RC 350 gets a refresh with new front and rear styling, a re-tuned suspension and power steering for sharper handling, and integration technologies like Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. The Premium Package receives new content while Blue Vortex Metallic joins the list of exterior colors.
Features & Options: Locked & Loaded
The 2019 Lexus RC 350 with all-wheel-drive ($46,240) comes standard with 18-inch wheels; LED headlights; keyless entry and ignition; dual-zone automatic climate control; a rearview camera; power-adjustable and heated front seats; simulated-leather upholstery; and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. Tech and infotainment features include Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, a seven-inch display, and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio.
Also standard is adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and Lexus Enform communication and remote services.
Features & Options: Locked & Loaded (Some More!)
This tester came loaded with the all-weather package, LED triple-beam headlamps, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system. The Premium package adds heated and ventilated front seats; blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert; automatic wipers; a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; and driver’s seat memory settings.
The Navigation package includes a console-mounted touchpad controller; 10.3-inch display; and upgraded voice commands with navigation. Ventilated seats, intuitive park assist, and a heated steering wheel rounded out the options. Total MSRP including Destination: $54,630. By comparison, the 2019 Lexus RC 350 starts at $44,075 with rear-wheel drive; $46,240 with all-wheel drive.
Interior Highlights: Cramped But Still Nice
The cabin’s two-tone black and burgundy color scheme with wood trim is especially attractive. The RC 350’s front seats with 10-way power adjustments are comfortable and offered us the perfect driving position. As we would expect from Lexus, the cabin offers plenty of soft touch materials and the quality is first class. For the 2019 RC, Lexus offers six different combinations of interior trim and there isn’t a bad one.
There is an extra level of comfort with the heated and cooled front seats, and this model offers a fast-response interior heater for cold winter mornings. The ventilated seats were appreciated with Denver being warm even in September. The RC 350 still keeps an analog clock, which we think is an interesting choice. Our only compliant with Lexus and their interiors is the infotainment touchpad. It’s still not as intuitive as others on the market.
We cranked up the 17-speaker Mark Levinson system and kept the noisy world out as we made the commute from the mountains to Denver. Don’t expect the back seat to be used for hauling adult passengers, however. It’s tight and best for smaller children and cargo, though this is normal for a sport coupe. Trunk volume is also a slim 10.4 cubic feet, just big enough for two golf bags.
2019 Lexus RC 350: Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2019 Lexus RC 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, delivering 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters comes with the all-wheel drive models. The coupe gets an EPA estimated 18/24 city/highway and 21 combined mpg with all-wheel drive.
Rear-wheel drive is available for the RC 350. The engine’s output remains the same although power is sent through an eight-speed automatic versus a six-speed. Fuel economy improves to 20/28 city/highway and 23 combined mpg. In either case, premium fuel is recommend for the 3.5-liter V6. Given the better all-weather capability, we would opt to have our Lexus RC 350 with all-wheel drive.
Driving Dynamics: Ideal For The Daily Grind
The RC 350 coupe offers enough power and performance to satisfy most driving enthusiasts. The car’s sporty feel, along with the V6 engine’s power, is enough to handle nearly any driving situation. The 2019 Lexus RC 350 is well-suited for the performance enthusiast looking for an enjoyable, capable daily driver. If you want to step it up a notch, an available F Sport package adds things like an adaptive suspension, which improves the overall comfort and handling.
The Lexus RC 350 handled extremely well through the curves on the mountain roads west of Denver this week. Lexus upped the horsepower a bit, giving the V6 enough grunt to pass slower drivers going up I-70, into the mountains, at altitude. The naturally-aspirated RC 350 doesn’t have the “torquey” response of the turbo engines used by rivals, but acceleration is still smooth and linear. While the RC 350 looks sporty, we think it’s well-suited for daily driving.
Conclusion: A Solid Pick
The 2019 Lexus RC 350 is a good choice for those looking for a sporty but reasonable coupe. It’s not as engaging as its German rivals, but the Lexus is a solid choice regardless. With all-wheel drive, you can drive it year-round with less fear of getting stuck when it snows. And with the heated seats and steering wheel, it’s all the better.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy