REVIEW: Lexus CT 200h

It’s every bit as quirky as you think it is, but it’s also expectedly good at sipping fuel.

Lexus showroom demographics are changing quite rapidly. According to some reports, Lexus overall sales are just about the same for 2016 compared to the year previous, but an apparent jump of nearly 13% in truck sales came at the expense of car sales plummeting 20%. That puts cars like the CT in a bit of a pickle. Coming in as the 8th most popular Lexus model, the CT 200h hybrid sits somewhat awkwardly in an SUV dominated showroom.

ry, but aren’t prepared to drop cash on something like a Mercedes or BMW. To classify it, I guess you’d say it fits into the compact luxury hybrid segment. The fact there’s no direct competitor, you’d think it’d be a smash hit. But first, you need to find buyers. Before we dive into that demographic any further, lets talk about the car itself.

Having driven the absolutely sublime Lexus RC F, I was hoping a bit of that romance would carry over into the CT. But then I remembered that underneath, the running gear is shared with a car called the Prius. A much better looking, much nicer, and equally as quirky Prius.

Acceleration for this car is not worthy of calling the Guinness Book of World Records, and in fact, the new Dodge Demon slices away the 1/4 mile before this car even hits 60mph. However, just like how the Demon has one purpose, so does the CT 200h.

One confusing thing comes from Toyota’s other offerings in terms of engines. Under the hood of that Lexus sits a 1.8 liter engine, with hybrid assist, making a grand total of 134 horsepower and 142 lb/ft of torque. In the the Corolla iM, it also has a 1.8 liter motor but makes 3 more horsepower. The difference in torque might be where you say “ah HA! Gotcha!” But less than 20 lb/ft of torque separate them. It’s honestly difficult to figure out why the hybrid system makes only 16 more lb/ft of torque, especially when hybrids are now known for their instant torque response. That torque is available down low where the regular gas engine still needs to be wound up, but it’s completely lost when you need to pass a car on the highway. Odd. Not like you’ll be passing cars any time soon. Acceleration times from 0-60 are directly pulled from the 1930’s.

Then you have to consider what this car is. It’s the F sport. And this makes about as much sense as orange juice and toothpaste. F sport trim packages generally add some sporty looking bits here and there, and sport tuned suspension. However, this car can’t be called sporty. At all. In fact, I was hoping for it to be a bit more “Lexus” but the suspension tuning makes you feel like the front end is crashing over cracks in the road.

Perhaps as a relief, the CT 200h will ultimately be discontinued after this model year. That’s sad, because despite all the quirks and concerns, it’s a neat little car that has a very niche buying audience. But as stated before, Lexus is changing the direction it wants to go, and losing this one from the showroom is just collateral damage.

2017 Lexus CT 200h
Engine – 1.8 liter 4-cylinder VVT-i
Power unit – Lexus Hybrid Drive
Transmission – Electronic CVT
Power – 134hp, 142 lb/ft
MSRP – $31,250
As tested – $41,795

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