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  5. 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD Test Drive Review

 
The current automotive landscape might be packed with SUVs, but there are still plenty of vehicles designed for driving enjoyment on the market. 

One compelling option is the 2021 Lexus RC, which provides a welcome mix of performance, luxury, and style. Not much has changed since the RC lineup was refreshed for the 2019 model year, and that means this luxury coupe still looks great. Last year, I had the chance to get behind the wheel of the high-powered RC F, but this time around, I was able to sample the 2021 Lexus RC 350 AWD decked out in the sporty-looking F Sport package.


2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD Exterior

 
The Lexus RC has been around since 2014, and it continues to be one of the more stylish offerings in a dwindling segment with a long nose, wide rear end and the sporty, low-slung stance. Since the 2019 refresh, there haven't been any changes to the styling of the RC, so the car's sleek, athletic lines have been maintained.  

The best view of the RC 350 is from the front where the long hood and massive spindle grille give the coupe a proper in-your-face styling, and the optional ($1,160) triple beam LED headlights offer up a high-tech face. At the rear of the coupe, reshaped LED taillights and vertical air vents allows the back end of the RC to resemble the concept-car style of the LC grand touring coupe. Opting for the F Sport package brings 19-inch wheels and black mirror caps, and this eye-catching tester was finished in a beautiful premium paint color, called Infrared, for an extra $595.


2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD Interior

 
As you'd expect from Lexus, the RC 350 F Sport is much more than just a pretty face. While the interior is far more conservative than the exterior, this sport coupe has a driver-focused cabin that blends luxury and comfort. Generally speaking, coupes usually aren't purchased for their practicality, and the tight quarters of the RC 350 show why. There's plenty of room for the front two passengers, but the rear seats are best left to small kids. Likewise, the trunk's 10.4 cubic feet of luggage space is small, but at least the large opening and low lift over make it easy to load and unload cargo.

Being the F Sport model, this interior adds an extra dose of sportiness with well-bolstered perforated leather seats, and the light-colored leather on the seats, center stack and door panels to break up an otherwise blacked-out interior. The F Sport package also includes the signature digital cluster with a motorized central display, and the 10.3-inch multimedia display is easy to use from the buttons on the center stack or the touch pad controller on the center console. For optimal comfort, the RC 350 F Sport comes with heated and cooled front seats, aluminum foot pedals and a power-adjustable steering column, while options on this tester include a $2,725 package pairing a navigation system with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system as well as an extra $150 for the heated F Sport steering wheel.


2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD Powertrain

 
In terms of powertrain options, the 2021 Lexus RC 350 is positioned between the turbocharged four-cylinder RC 300 and the race-inspired RC F Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V-6 that utilizes Toyota's D4-S fuel injection system that combines the benefits of both direct and port fuel injection to balance performance and efficiency. This engine is rated at 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, and since this is an AWD model, the engine is backed with a six-speed automatic instead of the RWD's eight-speed transmission. Paddle shifters and a variety of drive modes (including Sport and Sport+) makes it easy for the driver to have fun. While it's definitely not a true performance coupe, the RC 350 will have drivers smiling nonetheless.

Opting for the AWD model does add an extra 150 pounds to the curb weight, but the RC 350 AWD is still a well-balanced coupe that delivers a smooth ride and nimble cornering. The disadvantage from the AWD is a slower 0-60 time (6.0 seconds vs. 5.8 seconds) and a slower top speed (130 mph vs. 143 mph). For drivers who can resist the urge to test the RC 350's 0-60 capabilities, they'll have no problem hitting the EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.


2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD Safety

 
The 2021 Lexus RC line has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but new for 2021, all trim levels now come standard with blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Other standard equipment includes the Lexus Safety System+ that bundles Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, High Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Intelligent High-Beams. This tester was also equipped with Intuitive Parking Assist for an extra $500. 


2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD Overall

 
In a world of crossovers and SUVs, the 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport is a refreshingly luxurious way to enjoy driving. This car is fun to drive, fun to look at and just plain fun to be around, and while it isn't afraid to carve some corners, the RC 350 isn't brutal to drive around town. 

Best of all, you don't have to break the bank to get an RC parked in your driveway with prices starting at $42,220 for the RC 300. Jumping up to the added performance of the RC 350 raises the starting price to $45,150, while the F Sport version of this car has a starting MSRP of $49,620. The optioned-up 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD used for this review had an as-tested price of $58,605.

Shop Lexus RC Inventory


Jeffrey N. Ross | Sep 15, 2021

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan S FWD Specs

Layout

2-door, 2-passenger
AWD

Engine/Transmission

3.5L V6, 311 hp, 280 lb-ft
6-speed auto

Mileage

19/26
(city/hwy)

NHTSA Rating

N/A


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.