Being the luxury nameplate for Toyota, the top-selling hybrid maker, Lexus offers a range of hybrids including its most fuel efficient and cost-effective, the CT 200h.
The car carries forward with minimal updates from the 2012 model year, having ranked last year in the top 10 itself for North American sales.
Making use of a version of the Toyota Prius’ 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine, and electric motor based Hybrid Synergy Drive system, the CT 200h offers an upscale trade-off.
In exchange for more sporty styling, attention to luxury, and improved road-handling manners, the car is a compact class – not midsize like the Prius – and its mileage is a lower, but still respectable 43 mpg city, 40 highway, and 42 mpg combined.
This makes it the most efficient of Lexus’ growing range of five hybrids, and at a suggested retail price of $32,050 overlaps into upper trim-level Prius territory, and the CT 200h is the least expensive entry point into Lexus brand ownership.
Toyota emphasizes a “fun-to-drive” factor baked in, and to be sure, the vehicle is a notch above the Prius. Its platform is not from the Prius, and is actually a variant of that of the Scion tC, Toyota Corolla and the larger Lexus HS 250h.
It also sports the HS 250 h’s rear double A-arms, and is tuned for sportier handling with a Yamaha front and rear damping system to stiffen the structure and minimize body vibration.
Other goodies like 17-inch wheels, and F-Sport package option, decked out aesthetics suck as alloy sport pedals. Leather trim and black headliner add to the impression this is not your everyday Prius.
The vehicle does channel its power through a continuously variable transmission however, which while maximizing efficiency, can be less than sonorous as it hunts through variable ratios, gives no manual control or over-ride ability to the driver, and is not the most desirable among genuine sports cars.
The car’s hybrid system features four driving modes: EV, Eco, Normal and Sport, but its 0-60 times are basically equal to the regular Prius Liftback.
Updates this year include a Silver Lining Metallic paint color, and Ultra White is available with the F SPORT options.
Inside changes include updated navigation with next generation Lexus Enform® with Safety Connect® and App Suite, and HD Radio™ with iTunes® tagging. Also, the navigation screen can be kept closed at start up and the car has a padded driver’s arm rest.
Park assist is also now available as a standalone option, and a Seat Comfort Package offers heated front seats and four-way power passenger seat (required with Premium Package).
For additional information, please see our 2012 review, which describes the same basic car in more detail.