2019 Lexus RC350 AWD F Sport - Compelling but Compromised?
As a travel companion during our recent trip to beautiful Colorado, the 2019 Lexus RC 350 AWD F Sport allowed us to full enjoy the Centennial State. A car with sporty tendencies, a high level of luxury and advanced technology, the RC 350 AWD took us everywhere we wanted to go with zero hesitation. Among our storied destinations were the United States Air Force Academy, Broncos Stadium, and Pikes Peak - each provided a unique opportunity for the RC 350 AWD to reveal the entirety of its character and driving dynamics.
At Pikes Peak, the RC 350 AWD didn't miss a beat under normal usage. However, when pushed, the ill-suited Michelin Pilot Sports A/S 3s began to show their true, all season colors. That is to say, grip levels were less than optimal at more brisk driving paces. However, the RC 350's AWD drive system did a fantastic job intervening when necessary and ensuring that power was delivered to the correct wheel(s).
In the case of our RC 350 AWD F Sport, the engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 311 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. These specs the vehicle offers place it, in terms of performance, directly against other mid-sized luxury coupes equipped with six-cylinder engines such as the BMW 440i (320 HP), the Cadillac ATS (335 HP) and the Infiniti Q60 3.0T (300 HP).
One of the few qualms about our RC 350's powertrain is that the transmission seems to always be searching for the correct gear, regardless of driving mode. OK, setting it to "Sport" mode causes the gears to hang around for a little longer but even when manually selecting, the transmission just seems to have a mind of its own. Other than that, "Snow" mode, although not related to the transmission, did a proper job of adjusting traction control sensitivity and speed.
In any case, it must be recognized that the V6 engine produces a pleasant sporting sound, thanks in part to the audio system that "improves" the auditory sensation in the cabin, as well as sufficient power to feel swift on most roads. During our trek from Pike Peak to Denver, the RC 350 AWD felt practically autobahn-worthy, with overtaking and left lane cruising a breeze.
After several hundred miles of driving on all types of roads in various weather conditions (thank you, Colorado) it's quite apparent that the RC 350 AWD F Sport is a worthy cruiser but doesn't necessarily excel at anything in particular. It's too heavy to perform like a true sports car and too stiff to ride like an all-out luxury car. The AWD system performed nicely but full capability may have been hampered by the absence of a real winter tire. That said, the RC 350 AWD F Sport does everything just well enough to be a compelling purchase choice, despite not being best-in-class at anything. In my opinion, and many would disagree with me on this, the styling alone make it a vehicle to consider over its competitors. If you're going to split hairs about performance specs, an area where the RCF falls short in every category but not by much at all, you might as well go with the vehicle that makes you feel like the most stylish driver on the boulevard.
Capable AWD system
Classy, sporty attitude
Lexus' Enform frustrations never cease
Specs: Engine: 3.5L V6 Drivetrain: AWD
Power: 311hp Torque: 280 lb-ft Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 18/24/21 MPG Wheelbase: 107.5 in Curb Weight: 3,891 lbs Base Price: $41,295 Price as Tested: $57,800