2012 Lexus CT 200h Base
(1.8L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT Automatic)
What our ratings include
Date Driven: 1/5/2011 (2011 model)
The CT 200h won't win many drag races, taking 10.4 sec. to reach 60 mph. That's even more leisurely than the Toyota Prius with which the CT shares a drivetrain. The Continuously Variable Transmission's high-rpm running can be annoying.
The CT is blessed with a well-damped ride, but cursed with syrupy electric steering, even in higher-effort Sport mode. Non-defeat stability control system cuts in early, hampering slalom time, but has little impact during street driving.
The CT gives a smooth, quiet ride in nearly all circumstances; the one fault is its inability to dampen harsh jolts on rough city streets with the ease of its Lexus brethren. But the comfy front seats partially make up for this.
Full electric mode returns near silence. Even with the gasoline engine and electric motor working in concert, the CT's sound-deadening keeps the cabin hushed. Under acceleration, however, the CVT forces the inline-4 to rev high.
Driving position is low, but feels natural. HVAC buttons high on center stack are easy to use; audio controls harder to get to. Computer-mouselike controller for nav and other functions is fun to use via 8-in. display screen.
Narrow A-pillars make the view out the front of the CT 200h reasonable. But the CT's chopped greenhouse, thick C-pillars and small rear window are compromises in the name of styling. Rear camera (with optional nav system) helps greatly.
Seat Access & Space
Interior room is below average. Front cabin has a snug, driver-oriented feel, but it's not cramped. Rear seat has adequate head- and legroom for 6-foot-tall adults, but small rear doors make ingress/egress a bit tight.
Cargo & Storage
Meager door pockets, but center armrest bin is spacious. Specific slot to hold cell phone -- nice. Front cupholders feature a 3rd space that's perfect for an 8.4-oz. can of Red Bull. Fold-flat rear seats greatly increase cargo capacity.
The CT 200h may be the cheapest Lexus, but it isn't cheaply built. Many of the usual Lexus switchgear are evident, while soft-touch materials are everywhere, and stitched tightly. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a tactile delight.