Used 2016 Lexus CT 200h Review
Edmunds expert review
There aren't many small luxury cars with a hybrid engine, but the 2016 Lexus CT 200h borrows from the best. Its engine is straight from the previous Toyota Prius, so you know it's good on gas, and the CT 200h's hatchback design provides plenty of cargo-carrying versatility. Ready to learn what else we like about this luxurious fuel-sipper?
What's new for 2016
By dint of parent company Toyota's leadership in hybrid vehicles, Lexus has long dominated the luxury hybrid market, a small but important niche that others have only recently discovered. Although rival automakers are starting to put up a fight, the 2016 Lexus CT 200h still stands alone as a compact luxury hatchback with a conventional gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain.
The CT 200h has been around for a while now, but its combination of inspired styling and upscale amenities remains appealing in the hybrid arena. Also, the CT's utilitarian four-door hatchback body style can accommodate a wider variety of cargo than your average sedan. Of course, what really sets the 2016 CT 200h apart from most luxury vehicles is its impressive EPA fuel economy rating of 42 mpg combined.
The 2016 Lexus CT 200h combines adventurous looks and moderately sporty handling with a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain.
The CT 200h backs up its athletic looks with crisp-feeling handling that's a pleasant surprise in a hybrid. Unfortunately, that whiff of sportiness writes checks that the CT 200h's powertrain can't cash. With just 134 total horsepower available, this Lexus is sorely lacking in the performance department. Also, while folding down the CT's rear seatbacks creates a flexible cargo hold with a good deal of space, the interior is still much tighter than that of the Lexus NX 300h compact crossover, for example.
A new rival to the CT 200h debuts this year in the form of the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron hatchback, which is technically a plug-in hybrid (with 17 miles of electric-only range) that also offers up to 39 mpg combined in conventional hybrid mode. Within the Toyota family, the aforementioned Lexus NX hybrid is joined for 2016 by a pair of more affordable alternatives — the radically redesigned Toyota Prius, which may be an acquired taste, and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which can't match the CT's fuel economy but boasts superior cargo capacity. Although considerably more expensive than the Lexus, the 2016 BMW 328d Wagon is a much more satisfying vehicle to drive and still provides very good fuel economy thanks to its diesel-fueled engine. Overall, the 2016 Lexus CT 200h is likable enough, but only by taking a test-drive will you know whether you can live with its humble performance.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Lexus CT 200h combines a hybrid powertrain with a compact, four-door hatchback layout that seats five passengers. It's offered in a single trim level.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors with built-in turn signals and puddle lamps, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), split-folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free technology that connects to select smartphones and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB port.
There are a number of optional packages on the CT 200h, but availability can vary depending on the region in which you live. The Seat Comfort package includes heated front seats and a four-way power front passenger seat. The Premium package adds automatic wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 10-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer. A Display Audio package includes the premium 10-speaker sound system and auto-dimming rearview mirror plus a 7-inch display screen, a rearview camera, an additional USB port and the Remote Touch controller.
The Luxury package includes auto-dimming outside mirrors, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats and driver memory settings. The Navigation package features the auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera, 7-inch display and Remote Touch interface plus a navigation system, voice controls, HD radio and Lexus Enform app-based infotainment, Remote and Safety Connect emergency telematics systems. The F Sport package bundles distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a larger rear spoiler and a host of unique styling tweaks inside and out, including a blacked-out rooftop.
Inside, the 2016 CT 200h drops traditional Lexus opulence in favor of sustainable and recycled materials when practical.
There is also a handful of stand-alone options, including a sunroof, LED (low-beam) headlights, adaptive cruise control with a pre-collision system, front and rear parking sensors and a back-up camera with the display built into the auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Performance & mpg
Power for the 2016 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid comes from a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a pair of electric motor/generators and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is 134 hp, which is routed to the front wheels by way of a specialized continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
In Edmunds testing, a CT 200h accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a slow 10.5 seconds. Fuel economy is where the CT 200h shines, checking in at an EPA-estimated 42 mpg combined (43 city/40 highway).
The CT 200h can be fun to drive if you don't expect heart-pounding performance from its 134-horsepower hybrid system.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Lexus CT 200h include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints (plus front seatbacks that can help reduce injuries from whiplash), front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and dual front knee airbags. Lexus' Safety Connect telematics system is also standard and includes functions like automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle location and emergency assistance. A rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are available as options.
The optional adaptive cruise control system includes a pre-collision feature that uses radar sensors to detect an imminent impact and responds by tightening the front seatbelts and initializing brake assist. In Edmunds brake testing, a CT 200h F Sport stopped from 60 mph in an unimpressive 125 feet.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CT 200h its highest rating of "Good" across the board, including the small-overlap frontal offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its head restraint/seat design also earned a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
If the 2016 Lexus CT 200h's sporty stance has led you to expect pulse-pounding performance, you're going to be sadly disappointed. The CT 200h's gasoline-electric powertrain (borrowed from the previous-generation Toyota Prius) is tuned to maximize mpg rather than acceleration. The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine can also sound labored when pushed hard, which doesn't befit a car with a Lexus badge. But if you're just looking for a fuel-efficient luxury car with a nimble feel to get you between points A and B, you'll likely find this hybrid to be pretty livable.
Indeed, the CT 200h's hardware otherwise performs admirably. The repeated cycling between the gasoline engine and the electric motor is so smooth you might not even notice. Same goes for the fuel-saving auto stop-start feature that kills the gasoline engine when the car comes to a full stop, and instantly fires it up when it's time to get moving.
As far as handling goes, the CT 200h feels relatively agile compared to most hybrids, a quality enhanced by the steering system's quick reflexes. Ride quality is good with the standard underpinnings, but the optional F Sport package's firmer suspension may be a little jarring in parts of the country where long-neglected pavement is a frequent annoyance.
Because it is optimized for environmental friendliness, the interior of the 2016 Lexus CT 200h doesn't have quite the same opulent feel of the traditional luxury models on which Lexus has built its reputation. Recycled and sustainably sourced materials replace the usual soft leather and gleaming wood trim whenever practical. Still, the cabin has a premium look that sets it apart from more mainstream hybrids.
For the most part, the CT 200h's gauges and controls are well-placed and intuitive to use. The exception is the Remote Touch control interface that's used to make selections on the large central display (included in the Display Audio and Navigation packages). It functions a lot like the touchpad on a laptop computer and frequently is too sensitive to use on the fly. Ultimately, it's a clever idea that ends up being more frustrating than it's worth.
Up front, the seats are comfortable and well-bolstered for a sporty feel. The backseat also has decent head- and legroom for a couple of adults, although the narrow rear door openings can complicate entry and exit for passengers. Storage for cell phones and other items you'd like to keep close at hand is limited to a pint-size glovebox and door pockets. When it comes time to load up for a weekend away, there's a passable 14.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the backseat, which grows to 34.8 cubic feet when they are folded down. Both measurements are on the small side compared to similarly sized hatchbacks.
It may be a compact hatchback, but the Lexus CT 200h offers a reasonable amount of head- and legroom for backseat occupants.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.