The 2023 Lexus RC 350 is part of the old guard

2023 Lexus RC 350

Lexus, like any other automaker, is in the business of selling vehicles. And, like many other automakers, Lexus has seen the majority of its sales skew toward high-riding vehicles with three rows of seats and roomy cargo areas. That explains why Lexus has recently updated its lineup of people carriers. The Lexus NX, RZ, RX, TX, GX, and LX have either been introduced as all-new vehicles or have been fully redesigned recently. With so much focus going toward the automaker’s lineup of SUVs, Lexus’ sports cars, like the 2023 Lexus RC 350, have been ignored for some time. 

This puts the RC 350 in a strange spot. Outdated and well behind the curve when it comes to performance, but affordable and comfortable, the RC 350 is still an appealing sports car, but to a smaller segment of buyers and for different reasons. 

What The RC 350 Does Well

Sure, the Lexus RC 350 is old and dated. At this point, the current generation dates back to 2015, but it still has some strengths that help it carve out a little niche for itself in the segment. 

The first thing the Lexus RC 350 gets right is its design. It may be old, but the meaningful refresh in 2019 ensures the sports car still looks great. The way the RC 350 looks is by far its greatest strength. Regardless of what’s under the hood, the RC 350 will turn heads and draw eyes, which is what a sports car is supposed to do. 

2023 Lexus RC 350

A Comfortable, Luxurious Experience 

The Lexus RC 350 won’t win any drag races and it isn’t the kind of sports car that urges you to tackle corners aggressively, but it’s the kind of sports car that encourages you to go for a drive, and there is a difference. It’s a concept that’s apparent in hardcore sports cars and motorcycles. A track-oriented sports car or sport bike will be horrifically uncomfortable on the ride to twisty roads, but absolute joy once curves pop up. With the RC 350, it’s the other way around. 

For those drives where you just want to unwind and aren’t worried about cornering grip or impressing friends, but just want to get out and drive, the RC 350’s keys are worth grabbing. The RC 350’s cabin remains quiet at high speeds, most likely due to the high-quality materials that line the interior and the superb build quality that Lexus is known for. The well-bolstered seats hold you in place when a corner arises, but they aren’t intrusive enough to make the seats uncomfortable. 

2023 Lexus RC 350

The ride, which is slightly on the sportier side of things, as one would expect, can be harsh over rough roads, but longer jaunts on the highway showcase the RC 350’s more comfortable side. 

Relatively Affordable 

I won’t go on a rant about how expensive things are right now, but stuff is expensive. Sports cars aren’t necessities, they’re toys. Automakers price them accordingly, knowing that the people who can afford to purchase a sports car are fairly well off in life. Still, the Lexus RC is a relatively affordable sports car. 

Pricing for the RC 300 starts at $45,820, while the RC 350 is priced at $48,750. If you want extra performance, there’s the mighty RC F, which takes a massive jump because of its V8 engine, that costs $68,195. As far as sports cars from luxury brands go, these are relatively affordable. 

2023 Lexus RC 350

What The Lexus RC 350 Doesn’t Do Well 

As a sports car, no one is buying the Lexus RC 350 for family use or as a sole vehicle, but the RC 350 is terrible as anything but a point A to point A car for two people. The RC may come with a set of rear seats, but there’s only 27.3 inches of legroom. They’re just barely big enough for kids, but I don’t even think having kids back there for anything more than 30 minutes is realistic. 

Then there’s cargo capacity. At 10.4 cubic feet of cargo space, the RC 350’s trunk is small. That’s just enough space for a loaf of bread, a carton of eggs, and a gallon of milk, which is perfect because that’s all that most people can afford these days with inflation. 

2023 Lexus RC 350

A Sports Car That Needs More Sport 

With the Lexus RC 350’s aggressive exterior design, one would expect the sports car to deliver a pure driving experience, but that’s far from the case. The RC 350 doesn’t have the same athletic handling as rivals and the performance with the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine in the RC 350 just doesn’t cut it. The V6 is putting out 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, but it doesn’t feel all that quick in a straight line. There’s sound being pumped into the cabin and you can feel the buzz of the engine, but it all results in a disappointing pace. 

Handling capability isn’t there, either. The RC 350 feels heavy and muted, like a running back after two decades of abuse. It’s balanced and you won’t have a terrible time on a windy road, but it’s nowhere near as agile as its competitors. 

The Verdict 

The 2023 Lexus RC 350 will appeal to people who want a sports car that looks like a sports car, is relatively comfortable for a sports car, has upscale features that they’ve come to expect in a sports car, but isn’t a sports car. If you can live without typical sports car performance, the RC 350 could be worth exploring. But with the Toyota GR Supra being a better overall sports car, one has to wonder why someone would go to a Lexus dealership instead of one that sells Toyotas.   


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