Toyota’s Prius may be fuel-efficient, but its bland reputation doesn't help the image of other hybrid cars. The 2015 Lexus CT 200h puts a stylish spin on the formula. With its sporty 5-door hatchback design, aggressive front end and surprisingly good driving dynamics, the CT 200h is an eco-friendly alternative to other small luxury cars.
You'll Like The 2015 Lexus CT If...
If you can't imagine driving a car that lacks luxury trappings, but want to reduce your carbon footprint, then the 2015 Lexus CT 200h may be just what you're looking for. Its relatively low price is icing on the cake.
You May Not Like The 2015 Lexus CT If...
While definitely more fun to drive than a Prius, it's more of a drive-a-slow-car-fast kind of thing. If you're looking for quick acceleration or bursts of power, the CT 200h isn't going to do it. The Cadillac ELR offers more horsepower and eye-catching style, and it costs twice as much.
The 2015 Lexus CT 200h gets a few small updates but is mostly carryover. Among the changes are the integration of the iPhone-compatible Siri Eyes Free Mode for the infotainment system, additional voice commands for the navigation system, and the addition of Slacker radio to the Lexus Enform app suite.
While the 2015 Lexus CT 200h doesn't offer a lot of room to spread out, the intimate surroundings make it impossible to ignore the high-quality materials and features inside. The sporty front seats give you plenty of side support for those times you decide to drive aggressively, while the bright gauges and 8-inch multifunction display look appropriately high tech. Yet beyond the luxury, the CT 200h burnishes its hybrid street cred with touches like standard simulated leather that's 60 percent lighter than cow hide, bamboo speaker frames, and floor mats and other interior trim made from 30-percent plant-based materials.
We don't blame you if you were surprised that the 2015 Lexus CT 200h hybrid was based on the Toyota Prius. The grille treatment, which Lexus calls a "spindle," is aggressive and intimidating, while the sharp creases in the sheetmetal, LED headlights, muscular wheel arches and deep rear spoiler all scream sporty sophistication. While it's true that the styling writes checks the performance can't quite cash, it's still a sharp and classy way to get around town. About the only downside: the small-looking 17-inch tires and wheels, a nod to fuel economy.
While the 2015 Lexus CT 200h is fun in its own way, it's no match for cars like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 or even the Cadillac ELR. All three are quicker and handle better. However, the CT 200h looks great, is comfortable, is famously reliable, and its rivals have a hard time keeping up with its fuel-economy numbers. It's still more fun than you’d expect on a twisty back road, too. Engage Sport mode and the CT 200h will surprise you with sharp steering and quick throttle response. The F-Sport package adds stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, albeit at the expense of the traditionally soft Lexus ride. When you're just cruising, the CT 200h offers a quiet and comfortable around-town experience that's a pleasant departure from the usual hybrid experience, even if it isn't quite as library-silent as other Lexus cars.
The 2015 Lexus CT 200h is the brand's most affordable model, with a starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $33,000 before adding options. The interesting thing is that even when you start loading up the options like navigation, dynamic cruise control and F Sport accessories, you barely crack the $40,000 mark, not bad for a luxury-brand vehicle like the CT 200h, so you may as well load up. That compares well to another fuel-efficient luxury car, the Audi A3 TDI diesel, which offers better performance for a little more money. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are paying for the CT 200h. Lexus cars generally, and the Toyota Prius specifically, have very good reliability histories, which bodes well for the resale value of the CT 200h hybrid.
Along with the usual luxury touches one expects from Lexus, the base CT 200h comes standard with keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, a 10-way power driver's seat, a 6-speaker audio system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth interface and SiriusXM satellite radio. If you upgrade to the Premium model you'll add heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers and a moonroof.
Options for the Lexus CT 200h hybrid are divided into packages. The Seat Comfort package adds heated seats and a power passenger seat, while the F Sport package adds a sporty suspension and exterior enhancements. The Navigation Package throws in a rearview camera, voice-command HDD tilt-screen nav system with remote controller, Lexus Enform emergency notification system, NavTraffic and other features. The leather package adds real leather upholstery and includes electrochromic mirrors and memory driver's seat. The optional dynamic cruise control is combined with a Pre-Collision System that warns of an impending crash.
SELECTABLE DRIVING MODES
The 2015 Lexus CT 200h offers three different driving modes for different driving styles. Normal is, well, self-explanatory. The Eco mode offers less aggressive throttle response to help improve fuel economy, while Sport gets more aggressive, quickening the steering response and increasing battery output for maximum power.
DISPLAY AUDIO REMOTE TOUCH
The Lexus infotainment system uses a unique mouse-like interface called Remote Touch. Mounted on the center console, a joystick-like control moves a cursor on the screen, providing "haptic feedback" as you mouse over various controls. It's very clever and cool.
Under the Hood
Fuel economy is the name of the game for this hybrid, and with the Prius drivetrain to back it up, it's hard to match when it comes to minimizing your fuel bill. The 98-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and 80-horsepower electric-drive motor result in 43 mpg for the Lexus CT 200h in the EPA city cycle, very impressive. However, you pay for it when you want to get moving, as the 10-second 0-60-mph acceleration performance that can be justified as "socially responsible" in a Prius is a bit of a letdown in a sporty luxury-brand car that looks like it should run with Audis and BMWs.
1.8-liter inline-4/AC 650-volt permanent-magnet motor
98 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (gasoline engine)/80 horsepower (electric motor)/134 horsepower (combined)
105 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/40 mpg
The 2015 Lexus CT 200h hybrid offers up a sporty and stylish shape that wears the now-familiar Lexus grille, but actually shares most of its mechanical underpinnings – including its hybrid powertrain – with the Toyota Prius. It's not just a reskin, though, as Lexus puts its own stamp on the CT 200h. The exterior styling is unmistakably Lexus, while the interior is swathed in leather and upscale fabrics, much better sound-deadening and plentiful luxury features. It also pumps up the 1.8-liter gasoline/hybrid electric motor powertrain. While the CT 200h doesn't offer the same fuel economy as a Prius, it has already established itself as a fuel-efficiency leader in the luxury class against competitors like the Audi A3 diesel and Cadillac ELR.