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Lexus CT200h

A small hybrid hatch that’s more economical than sporty.

HYBRID

The CT200h is not only the least expensive Lexus but also the most fuel efficient. It wraps Toyota Prius mechanicals in a lower, sportier four-door body. Unfortunately, the styling’s sporty promise is mostly unfulfilled. The CT200h offers more niceties than does a Prius, but it’s neither as roomy nor as economical. It’s more expensive, too, but the extra money buys a far more plush interior. The CT200h uses the same powertrain as the Prius: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine with battery assist and a continuously variable transmission. There’s a choice of driving modes: EV, Eco, Normal, and Sport. Even in Sport, the CT200h is slow. Lexus puts the 0-to-60-mph time at a shade under ten seconds, and the CVT has the tiny four-cylinder droning at the top of its rev band when you ask for quick acceleration. In mellower driving, the electric motor’s torque helps to mask the weak engine. The chassis is a happier affair, with better steering than the lifeless Prius’s and an absence of body roll — the latter at a cost of impact harshness. The F Sport Package brings an even firmer suspension but is otherwise mostly visuals. The CT200h might appeal to a Prius shopper willing to trade some practicality and fuel economy for luxury. Eco-minded buyers looking for a sporty driving experience might check out the Audi A3 TDI.

COMPETITORS

Audi A3 TDI

Chevrolet Volt

Toyota Prius

Volkswagen Golf TDI

new for 2013

The base model has been dropped. There are two new colors. The Lexus Enform system adds a few more capabilities, the driver’s armrest is now padded, and a power passenger’s seat and park assist are optional.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, knee, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and stability and traction control are standard. A vehicle-proximity-notification system for pedestrians; precollision warning, included with active cruise control; and a backup camera are optional. The Safety Connect system includes collision response and one year free.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 43

HWY 40

PRO

Excellent gas mileage

Nicely trimmed interior

Inexpensive for a Lexus

CON

Leisurely acceleration

Cramped cabin

Stiff ride

Base Price: $32,745

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVEL: CT200h

BODY STYLE: Wagon, 5-passenger

ENGINE: 1.8L I-4/electric hybrid, 134 hp, 105 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable

PASSENGER VOLUME: 86.1 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up) 14.3 cu ft

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