Historically, hybrids have been known for having certain strengths. Of course, fuel economy is one of them. But engaging handling? Not so much. These days, though, there are models on the market that are more ambitious, promising great mileage sweetened with a sportier driving experience. One such model is the Lexus CT 200h.
The Lexus CT 200h shares its powertrain with the Toyota Prius. The main distinction here is that the sporty-looking CT 200h is designed specifically for better handling, with a low stance and special suspension components. It's an appealing idea, to be sure. But just as with the rash of compact cars many premium brands are introducing to their showrooms, the CT 200h stretches the traditional definition of a luxury car as it's small inside and out, not particularly powerful and not particularly plush.
Current Lexus CT 200h
The Lexus CT 200h is a hybrid-electric, compact four-door hatchback. There is a single powertrain choice, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine combined with a powerful electric motor. Depending on the driving situation, one or both drive the CT 200h's front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The engine makes 98 horsepower, but the entire hybrid system -- essentially the same used in the Prius -- can generate a total of 134 hp.
The CT 200h comes in a single trim level. Standard features include automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone connectivity, an eight-way power driver seat, premium vinyl upholstery and a six-speaker sound system. Most of the CT's truly upscale features come in several option packages, however. These include LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, auto-dimming side mirrors, leather upholstery, a navigation system and a premium sound system. An F Sport Special Edition package is also available that includes unique wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and special upholstery.
Compact dimensions and efficient hybrid drive mean the Lexus CT 200h's chief asset is exceptional fuel economy, and our testing generated an overall economy of nearly 40 mpg; the EPA rates the CT 200h at 43 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, figures few luxury cars of any description can match. Acceleration, however, is not a strength, although the CT 200h handles nimbly enough.
If you're expecting standard Lexus opulence and lots of wood trim, you won't find it here. But the CT 200h cabin is still upscale, with soft-touch surfaces on the most heavily trafficked contact points. The optional leather upholstery feels rich and pliable but the standard "NuLuxe" premium vinyl upholstery is convincing and won't disappoint. The cabin looks modern and high-end, with the exception being the radio's dated layout and display screen. There is reasonable luggage room -- 14.3 cubic feet -- and the hatchback configuration with folding rear seats makes for cargo-carrying flexibility that other entry-level luxury sedans can't match.
Used Lexus CT200h Models
The Lexus CT 200h debuted for the 2011 model year. First-year CT 200h models did not have the audio warning system added in 2012 to notify pedestrians and cyclists of this quiet car's presence at low speeds. Also added after the CT 200h's first year on the market was the optional F Sport package with sportier body pieces, special 17-inch tires and flashier interior detailing.
Read the most recent 2014 Lexus CT 200h review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus CT 200h page.