Let’s start with the good stuff. The 2016 Lexus CT200h is one great looking car.
Of course you have to like hatchbacks (which I do). And you have to like the Lexus signature “spindle” grill, which I also do. Frankly, it’s one of the coolest looking hatchbacks you can buy with plenty of luxury inside.
Now the downside. It doesn’t have the power to match its looks. I know it’s a hybrid. I know that I need to dial back my expectations. But I just expected so much more from the car’s aggressive style. I will call it peppy, especially when you have it in the Sport mode. Peppy is good. Unless, of course, you were hopping for fast and apparently I was.
But then, life is all about compromises. If you’re looking for a great looking hatchback with awesome mileage, the CT200h is definitely your car. It pulls 43 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway for a combined number of 42 mpg (which is exactly what I got during my test week). Compared to other hatchbacks, it’s nine mpg better than the Mazda 3 and a full 15 mpg better than the Elantra GT. On the other hand, its Toyota Prius cousin gets a combined number of 52. But then the Prius just not as cool looking. Of course you’ll pay for that mileage. Base price for the CT200h is $31,250 which is a big hike over the competition. Don’t forget that this is what I’ll call a low-end luxury car. Everything is a bit nicer so it’s not a fully direct comparison.
It uses a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine that is mated to a continuously variable transmission. That’s probably another reason I was disappointed in the performance. CVT transmissions just don’t have the same feel as traditional gearboxes. On the other hand, they’re smoother and generally give better mileage.
Inside, the CT200h likes to remind you it’s a Lexus. It’s not the fanciest of interiors, but it will not let you forget that you’re driving something above the rest. The seats are very comfortable (heated but not cooled). The display looks like it was mounted on the dash as an afterthought, but it worked well. The CT200h uses the Remote Touch control. Personally, I like the way it works but not everyone agrees with me. You’ll have to give it a try to see if you like it. It’s not a huge back seat, but it works. What I really liked was flattening it out and hauling stuff in the large cargo area. That’s why I enjoy hatchbacks.
My test car was the F Sport version. It had the F Sport Luxury package together with the F Sport LED headlights. Throw in the navigation system and a couple of other goodies, and suddenly my little hatchback was $41,860. The F Sport package is cool, but honestly, I’m not sure it’s really worth it. I think I like the style of the CT200h just the way it is.
So it all boils down to what you’re looking for. If great mileage, attractive styling and an upscale interior are tops on your list, then the Lexus CT200h is worth considering. But if you’re all about performance that equals the looks, you might find yourself wanting just a little bit more.