|Positives: Seriously good fuel economy, great steering and handling, attractive exterior and interior, comfortable seats and high-quality interior materials.|
|Negatives: Typical, weird Lexus infotainment controls, less storage than other hybrids, not very quick and annoying engine noise.|
|Bottom Line: The Lexus CT 200h does a good job of offering hybrid shoppers a truly unique take on an upscale hybrid. With good mileage and sport-tuned suspension the car is a hybrid that's genuinely fun to drive. The downside is the sound it makes when you mash the throttle. The engine doesn't really keep with the suspension in terms of driving enjoyment. Otherwise, it's better to drive than you'd think.|
|View Our 2017 Lexus CT 200h Overview|
When it comes to luxury hybrids there arenâ€™t too many options and if youâ€™re looking for a hatchback hybrid, you have even less. That makes the CT 200h a bit of an oddball, but it doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s a bad car. We recently got to spend a week with it and put it to the test. Hereâ€™s what weâ€™ve found.
If you crank up the stereo system so you canâ€™t hear the CT 200h operate, itâ€™s a wonderful car to drive. If you leave the stereo off or at a lower volume, you have to put up with the whir of the electric motors and the CVT-filtered buzz of the four-cylinder engine. Itâ€™s unpleasant and sounded to us like an animal struggling to be let loose. Besides the strangled engine noise, you can really have a good time driving the CT 200h. Itâ€™s got great suspension and decent steering. The brakes, however, could use more meat and feel.
Ride Quality: The suspension is a little on the firmer side, but that doesnâ€™t make for a jarring ride. Overall, the car is has a sporty and smooth ride.
Acceleration: The CT 200h isnâ€™t what weâ€™d call fast, but it will get you up to highway speeds in a reasonable amount of time. Weâ€™re just not crazy about the sound of the engine as it does so.
Braking: The regenerative brakes do a good job of stopping the car, but they arenâ€™t too progressive. You donâ€™t get much brake force until the pedal is pressed down about a third of the way.
Steering: Precise and responsive. The steering is one of the high points of this car. Itâ€™s actually enjoyable in the twisties as long as youâ€™re already up to speed.
Handling: The car handles well with minimum body roll. Itâ€™s much more confidence inspiring in the turns than we thought it would be.
Thereâ€™s a lot of technology in the CT 200h but accessing all of the equipment is a little annoying thanks to Lexusâ€™ weird controls. The company has some of the worst infotainment system controls in the business. We laud Lexusâ€™ pursuit of something different but would like to see the company go towards a more traditional route with its controls. Aside from this, thereâ€™s everything you could ever want including, Lexus Enform app suite, Bluetooth, navigation, Sirius XM radio and more.
Infotainment System: The system in the car utilizes a Lexus remote touch controller to navigate the system. The system is well laid out but not the fastest weâ€™ve seen. The home screen is divided up into a three-way split screen view thatâ€™s nice for getting all the info you need like audio, navigation and fuel economy.
Controls: The remote touch controller is like a mouse/joystick. Itâ€™s not exactly easy to use on the fly. Over the course of the week, we didnâ€™t find it any easier to use, either. It takes a fair amount of concentration, and weâ€™d rather spend that time looking at the road. There are a few buttons for home, menu, and scrolling but not much else.
Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing a phone was easy and reconnecting on re-entry seamless. We experienced no issues.
Voice Call Quality: Calls were clear on both ends with no connectivity issues.
If youâ€™re not a fan of the styling that many hybrid models have, the CT 200h will come as a relief. It looks like a sporty hatchback. It doesnâ€™t scream hybrid, and the only real indicator are the blue highlights on the Lexus badges. If youâ€™re after a car that everyone will know is a hybrid, this is not it. In fact, many folks will just wonder what the heck it is since the terms "hatchback" and "Lexus" don't exactly go together.
Front: The front features Lexusâ€™ spindle grille and reasonably aggressive headlights and hood creases, the low fog lights also add a nice effect to the bumper.
Rear: From the rear the CT 200h features a wraparound rear window and LED taillights that taper tastefully toward the center. For the most part, it's handsome with the exception of faux vents by the reflectors and that fake diffuser.
Profile: In profile, the car really looks sporty but the 17-inch wheels are small and give away the fact that the car isnâ€™t a true performance machine. Lexus should upgrade to larger wheels.
Cabin: The cabin carries on the mixture of sporty elements. The steering wheels seats and dash layout have an almost sports car look, but the very obviously hybrid gear selector lifted from the Prius and dressed up a bit with leather are a dead giveaway.
We drove the Lexus CT 200h all over the Chicagoland area and to some smaller towns outside of the city. Around town and on the highway the car proved to be a pleasure. Ergonomically everything feels good and the leather-wrapped seats cradle you well the whole time. No matter how far we drove, we still felt fresh when we arrived at our destination.
Front Seats: Leather wrapped, well-padded and bolstered. The front seats do a good job of supporting you during a long drive and holding you in place as you whip around corners.
Rear Seats: The rears seats arenâ€™t quite as spacious as we would have liked but do a good job for the most part. Theyâ€™re well-padded and bolstered and feature the same leather as the front seats, though taller riders may feel a bit cramped.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Aside from the noise of the engine â€“ which isnâ€™t terribly loud â€“ the CT 200h is a quiet car. Thereâ€™s little road noise, even at high speeds.
Visibility: Visibility out the front and sides is good. Rear visibility is adequate but the wraparound mirror isnâ€™t really as good as it looks like it would be from the outside. The thick C-pillars can be tough to see around. Luckily thereâ€™s a rear-view camera.
Climate: The dual-zone climate control and the heated seats to an excellent job of managing the temperature of the cabin.
The CT 200h comes with quite a suite of safety equipment, but it has not yet been rated by the IIHS or the NHTSA. The IIHS has rated the 2016 model and awarded it Top Safety Pick+. The 2017 model year for the CT 200h hasnâ€™t undergone much of a change and we expect that it will receive top ratings from both organizations.
IIHS Rating: This vehicle has not yet been rated.
Standard Tech: ABS with brake force distribution and brake assist, stability control and traction control, smart stop technology, several airbags, tire pressure monitor, emergency SOS button and Lexus Enform Safety Connect with automatic collision notification and stolen vehicle location.
Optional Tech: Backup camera and pre-collision system with dynamic radar cruise control.
The storage and cargo space in the car is pretty good but not superb. There are tons of other vehicles at this price point with more cargo and storage space, even other hybrids. If youâ€™re buying this car, you can expect a fair amount, but donâ€™t expect to be able to load it up with everything you own.
Storage Space: As far as storage space inside the cabin goes, you donâ€™t get much. There are a couple of small compartments in the center console, small door pockets, and the glove box but most other vehicles offer more.
Cargo Room: The cargo capacity in the car is limited to 14.3 cubic feet, which isnâ€™t very impressive when you look around the automotive industry. For comparison, the Prius offers 24.6 cubic feet of space.
The reason you buy a hybrid car is for the fuel economy and the CT 200h certainly delivers. The EPA has the vehicle rated at 43 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. Thereâ€™s no doubt that you could hit these number exactly if you drove the car conservatively. We came close and were less than gentle with the car.
Observed: We saw an average of 39 mpg throughout the week.
Driving Factors: We drove the car in the city and on the highway under heavy throttle whenever possible.
The Lexus premium 6-speaker sound system does a good job of giving you crisp and clear sound, whether youâ€™re listening to the FM radio, Sirius XM radio or streaming audio through your mobile device. While we werenâ€™t thrilled with the infotainment controls, the audio controls were simple. Lexus was smart enough to include volume and tuning knobs as well as steering wheel controls for the stereo system.