2013 Lexus CT 200h Review

Sampling the hottest version of Lexus' hybrid hatch.

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June 19, 2013

2013 Lexus CT 200h Review

The CT has quick reflexes and engaging steering, and sets the edge nicely in a corner.

Lexus likens its CT 200h hybrid hatch to being on par with its ES luxury mid-size sedan and its IS sports sedan, but that always seems a bit off to observers, since the CT looks so different to those two Lexii and comes available only with a hybrid powertrain.

The CT is clearly aimed at the most youthful potential Lexus buyers, hence its hybrid bits and hatchback shape. It's the performance Prius.

Lexus added an F Sport trim to the CT, but does that make it a hot hatch or a hybrid with sporty pretensions?

2013 Lexus CT 200h On the Road Opting for an F Sport CT adds a sport suspension, 17-inch wheels, and bolstered front seats, along with unique badging, aluminum pedals, and some other specific trim bits, plus a rear spoiler. Not a huge difference over other CT 200h models.

No matter, as the sport suspension gives the CT surprising handling chops. It's not a sports car, and there are Lexus models that are much better in the twisties -- see the IS and GS sports sedans -- but the CT handles much better than a car based on the Prius platform should. It has quick reflexes and engaging steering, and sets the edge nicely in a corner.

What it doesn't have is much accelerative power. At least not in the 'Eco' and 'Normal' drive modes. Switch the selector to 'Sport' and throttle response improves, but the CT still isn't a road rocket. No wonder, since the 1.8-liter four-cylinder and electric motor combine for only 98 system horsepower. If we were Lexus, we'd add a regular gas engine and a turbo option to the CT for true performance. As it is now, you have a sorta-fun hybrid that needs more guts.

The short wheelbase and sport suspension leads to a stiff ride on rough surfaces, and some oscillation occurred at highway speeds on certain pavement. The cabin gets loud at higher speeds, too.
2013 Lexus CT 200h Exterior The squat little hatch looks fairly odd, but we can't deny it's sporty. It won't win any design awards, but we applaud Lexus for breaking somewhat free of the brand's usual visual conservatism.
2013 Lexus CT 200h Interior We like the computer-mouse-like infotainment controller, and the instrument cluster is attractive to our eyes. We also found just about all controls to be easy to reach, although the shifter flummoxed us at times.

Headroom and legroom are at a premium, as is cargo space -- this isn't a large car. For single commuters, it's fine, but those who haul humans and/or the junk humans haul will find themselves cramped.
2013 Lexus CT 200h Final Thoughts The CT 200h isn't exactly the anti-Prius -- it's more like a Prius that went punk but still has a heart of gold. If you like mixing sport and fuel economy, the CT is an intriguing proposition -- if you prefer that balance tipped to fuel economy.

As noted above, we'd love to see the CT line expand to include regular gas engines, including a hopped-up turbo. But that's because we're enthusiasts. Those who can live with low power and laggy throttle responses will find the CT to be edgier than the Prius. Still, unless you're young and low on (luxury) funds (and really desperate to buy a luxury nameplate), there are other hybrids that do the sport thing, or the hybrid thing, or both, better. Just be prepared to pay more.
2013 Lexus CT 200h Specs, Features, & Prices Engine: 1.8-liter four-cylinder combined with electric motor

Transmission: Continuously-variable automatic

Drive Wheels: Front-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy: 43 mpg city/40 mpg highway

Base Price: $37,630

As-tested Price: $38,525 (includes $895 delivery charge)

Available Features: Navigation, Bluetooth, USB, satellite radio, infotainment system, fog lamps, rear wiper, sport suspension, 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, rear spoiler, cargo net.

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