A small hybrid hatch that’s more economical than sporty.
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.
Audi A3 TDI
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.
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.
Excellent gas mileage
Nicely trimmed interior
Inexpensive for a Lexus
Base Price: $32,745
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