When the Lexus brought the CT 200h to market seven years ago, it touted this hatchback as a sporty hybrid car. Unfortunately, it lacked the power to back that claim, and there hasn't been an increase in power since. On the plus side, the CT 200h features more athletic handling than the typical hybrid, but that's not a high bar to clear.
What the 2017 Lexus CT 200h excels in, however, is delivering excellent real-world fuel efficiency, a smooth ride and a pleasant interior. As a hatchback, it also gets high marks for versatility, though cargo capacity isn't as generous as expected.
When it comes to luxury-branded cars with this kind of fuel-sipping character, there aren't many options outside of the CT 200h. Even though the Chevrolet Volt isn't considered a luxury car, its interior could exceed expectations and it also benefits from all the latest technological innovations. The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is a closer match, and even though it costs a bit more, its plug-in hybrid powertrain might even the playing field.
Standard safety features for the 2017 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 such as 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 seat belts and initializing the brake assist feature. In Edmunds brake testing, a CT 200h F Sport stopped from 60 mph in an unimpressive 125 feet.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the CT 200h its highest rating of Good for small-overlap front-impact, moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its head restraint/seat design also earned a Good rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Lexus CT200h is a four-door hybrid hatchback with seating for five. It is available in one trim level with standard features that include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors with built-in turn signals and puddle lamps, keyless entry and ignition, 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, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/auxiliary input.
Most options are bundled in packages that vary depending on the region in which you live. The Navigation package features a rearview camera, a 7-inch display and Remote Touch interface plus a navigation system, voice controls, Siri Eyes Free smartphone connectivity, HD radio and Lexus Enform app-based infotainment, a premium 10-speaker audio system, and Remote and Safety Connect emergency telematics systems. The Luxury package includes auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, driver memory settings and a universal garage door opener.
The F Sport package bundles distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a larger rear spoiler, a host of unique styling tweaks inside and out, a rearview camera, alloy pedals and a black headliner.
There are 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 backup camera with the display built into the auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The 2017 Lexus CT 200h is propelled by a hybrid system that is made up of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a pair of electric motor/generators powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is 134 horsepower, which is routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
In Edmunds testing, a CT 200h reached 60 mph in a 10.5 seconds, which is slow by current standards. Fuel economy is excellent, with an EPA-estimated 42 mpg combined (43 city/40 highway). We managed to exceed these estimates in real-world driving, achieving an impressive 47.9 mpg on our evaluation loop and 44.1 mpg in daily commuting.
Despite its sporty styling, don't expect much in the way of power. With the same hybrid system from the previous-generation Prius, acceleration is lethargic, and the engine sounds coarse and labored when the pedal is floored.
The CT 200h tackles curves with more agility than typical hybrids, however, as its quick steering gives it a responsive feel. Ride quality is good over rough surfaces, but the optional F Sport package's firmer suspension can be jarring and busy.
As a regular hybrid, the CT 200h should meet expectations as a good around-town commuter. The transition between electric and gasoline propulsion is seamless, as is the auto stop-start system that turns the engine off at full stops.
With a greater emphasis on environmental friendliness than traditional luxury, the 2017 CT 200h lacks the opulence expected from a premium brand. You'll find recycled and sustainably sourced materials that replace the typical leather and wood trim whenever practical. That said, the cabin is more refined than the run-of-the-mill hybrid.
Primary controls are easy to read and logically placed for ease of use, but the Remote Touch controller for the optional Display Audio and Navigation systems is one of the more puzzling interfaces available. The operator moves a small flat joystick pad to move a cursor on the central display, but in a moving vehicle this setup proves problematic. A haptic feedback feature simulates detents when rolling over screen sections to help locate the virtual buttons, but the entire system remains awkward and difficult to use.
Its front seats provide a pleasing blend of cushioned comfort and sporty lateral support, and the rear seats have enough head- and legroom for two adults. The rear doors are rather narrow, but access is still much better than in a typical two-door coupe.
Storage for cellphones and other personal effects is limited to a small glovebox, cupholders and door pockets. Cargo capacity doesn't rate much better, with only 14.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 34.8 cubic feet with them folded. Other similarly sized hatchbacks can hold much more.
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.