2014 Lexus CT200h F-Sport Hatchback (1.8L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT Automatic)
The Lexus CT 200h is a good choice for folks who like the idea of a Prius-like hybrid but would rather have something that's more sporty-looking, nimble and luxurious. Fuel economy lags about 10 percent behind a Prius, but 42 mpg Combined is still pretty stellar.
PerformanceThe F-Sport badge doesn't bring any additional acceleration compared to the base CT200h or the Prius; the powertrain is identical with a total output of 134 hp. The CT's low slung chassis and improved suspension do make this a much more stable and engaging handler than a Prius.
Not any faster than a Prius -- it took 10.5 seconds for our CT200h to get up to 60 mph. The power delivery is fine for daily use, as long as you aren't expecting the F-Sport badge to represent extra quickness; there isn't any.
Brakes do an admirable job of slowing the CT200h in traffic; pedal feel is fairly authentic even when magnetic braking is dominant. So-so panic-stop distance of 125 feet likely stems from fuel-saving low rolling resistance tires.
There's a sporty heft to the steering that feels great when cornering, but it's not quite light and delicate enough in the middle when going straight. Minor complaint. Fits the F-Sport image well enough.
A lower center of gravity and sophisticated multilink rear suspension make the CT200h feel much more nimble and "planted" than its Prius cousin. The extra weight of the hybrid system is only noticeable in the tightest corners.
Smooth and supple because of the seamless no-shift characteristics of the electronic CVT (continuously variable transmission). Throttle pedal sensitivity is adjustable via a rotary knob, allows you to choose from eco/norm/sport.
ComfortThe CT200h imparts a luxury feel in terms of seat comfort and noise suppression. It rides smoothly most of the time, too, especially on overtly rough surfaces. But subtle road imperfections can sneak through and produce a busy ride. The F-Sport package may be the culprit here.
Front leather seats offer lots of adjustments and have decent padding, but the lower cushion might feel a bit short and narrow to taller drivers. Backseat padding is soft and comfortably shaped.
Pretty smooth ride over rough and broken pavement with little aftertaste. Doesn't float or wallow, either. But it's less composed over small bumps and ripples that tend to produce a busy feel with a side order of head toss.
The CT200h is generally quiet, with subdued road and wind noise. At times the engine revs higher than expected due to the hybrid CVT transmission, but there are also silent periods of electric-only operation at low speeds.
InteriorThe CT200h experience seems directed toward the lone commuter, though space for passengers is reasonable so long as none are very tall. Driving position and controls are simple and straightforward except for the optional navigation system's clunky joystick setup.
Good driving position and most controls are self-explanatory and easy to reach and use. But that annoying joystick is a clumsy way to navigate on-screen menus. And we're not fans of the shifter and its separate "Park" button.
Easy to enter and exit the front through a generous door opening. It's less optimal in back because the doors are smaller and the corner of the battery box is right where your heels want to be when you get in or out.
Tall drivers have plenty of head and leg room, but the passenger seat doesn't offer as much maximum headroom. The backseat won't fit folks over six feet, and a tall driver turns the rear seat behind into a kids-only proposition.
Over-the-hood visibility is pinched by an oddly tall cowl below the windshield. Large outside mirrors attempt to counter prominent rear three-quarter blind spots. Rear window is small, too. You'll want the optional backup camera.
Cargo space trails the cavernous Prius, but 14.3 cubic-feet is a typical trunk. Seats fold flat for 30 cu.-ft. Nicely trimmed cargo hold has underfloor nook for storing unused cargo cover. Big front cupholders but small front door pockets.
ValueThe Lexus CT200h F-Sport is a solidly built hybrid that combines fuel efficiency with a sporty personality. The standard model has most everything you need. But the optional navigation system is appallingly expensive and comes with a questionable joystick control interface.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Excellent inside and out, the CT200h F-Sport displays a higher degree of fit and finish than any Prius. As a Lexus, it's built to an appropriately higher standard in terms of materials, panel gaps and paint quality.
Good news: std sunroof, dual-zone climate control, pushbutton start, 10-way pwr driver seat, telescopic wheel, nice stereo. Bad news: opt navigation system costs $3,490 and real cost is higher because of required partner options.
The CT200h starts at $32,960 with a good amount of standard equipment, but the price quickly jumps is you add options, which tend to have prerequisites. Our F-Sport 200h with Navigation was priced at $40,275.
The EPA rates the CT200h at 42 mpg Combined (43 City/40 Highway) but we easily beat this on our test loop (47.9 mpg) and when commuting (44.1 mpg). Get frisky with the throttle in Sport mode, however, and you won't get there.
Powertrain components are covered for 7 years/70,000 miles, but hybrid components are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles. The basic warranty, which applies to most everything else, lasts for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Roadside assistance is provided for 4 years with no mileage restriction. Free scheduled maintenance covers no more than the first tire rotation at 5,000 miles and the first synthetic oil change at 10,000 miles.
Fun To DriveThe CT200h isn't speedy, so there's no need to look here if that's your definition of fun. However it is quite nimble and entertaining on curvy mountain roads. It's the sort of small "momentum" car we like, but in a high-mpg hybrid form that's even thriftier in the city.
No faster than a Prius, the CT200h instead delivers with a more rewarding driving experience and greater luxury. It's also anonymous for those who want their hybrid fuel savings without a tree-hugger label.
A Prius stands out on the road. Everyone knows what it is and what it represents. The Lexus CT200h is nearly as green but does not call attention to itself as such. Instead, our red F-Sport comes across as a small, sporty Lexus.
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