Lexus CT200h – An Owners Experience with a Hybrid Sport Car

Lexus CT200h SportBy John Addison (updated 9/12/11; original 6/1/11)

Car Review of a Premium Hybrid that is Fun and Impressive

Del Coates loves driving his new Lexus CT200h through the windy roads near his Northern California home. He is enjoying sports handling, premium interior, and impressive design without paying a fortune for the gasoline. With the Prius hybrid system inside, the Lexus CT200h is rated at 42 mpg combined highway and city. After 2,500 miles including a long-trip to Lake Tahoe and time driving in Sport Mode, Del is getting 44.8 mpg actual!

Del is a car expert. Early in his carrier he designed advanced concept vehicles at Dearborn for Ford Motor. He has written for Motor Trend, Road and Track, and Sports Car International. He traded-in his 2007 BMW 335i convertible for his new Lexus CT200h and is glad that he moved up. As a lover of good design, he was tempted by the “Teutonic elegance” of the Audi A3 TDI and A5 Coupe, but the Lexus won after he took it on a long Monterey test drive and then took it around the Laguna Seca Raceway, impressed with the tight handling and responsiveness. Design Matters by Del Coates.

Lots of people like Del want a car that makes a statement and is a pleasure to drive; yet they also tired of seeing our nation desperate for oil. They want fuel economy without sacrifice. The Lexus CT200h delivers. Yes, it has the best of the Prius underneath including a powerful 80hp electric motor that works in parallel with a 98hp engine with intelligent variable value timing. Unlike the Prius, the Lexus CT200h as an exclusively designed MacPherson strut suspension system that matches its wheelbase that is 4 inches shorter than the Prius. The Lexus has a luxury look, yet comes close to the aerodynamics of the Prius.

Lexus CT200h Starts at $29,120

Lexus CT200h seatsBoth the 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT200h have starting prices of $29,120 MSRP. That base price includes a beautiful interior, power everything, a 6 speaker sound system, a number of safety features, and a Lexus quality interior. You can pay in the mid-thirties when you add a navigation system, tilt-and-slide moonroof, premium leather and premium audio.

With a touch of the button, you can drive the Lexus hybrid in one of four modes: Normal, Sport, ECO, and EV. To get better than 40mpg, I test drove the Lexus in ECO for all needs, except the track where I kept it in Sport by the enthusiasts with their 400hp engines. Modes are selected with a touch of the button. Normal provides faster acceleration on a freeway. Sport is handy when you want to zoom around a slow truck on a two-lane road, or when you want to show-off.  EV mode only works when the NiMH battery is charged above a threshold and you are crawling in stop-go traffic.

The Lexus CT200h is versatile. When there is no point in burning-up excess gas, ECO mutes your stepping on the accelerator. The electric motor is limited to 500 volts. The air conditioner demands less. Acceleration is more gradual. In Sport Mode, when you step on it, the engine revs higher and the electric motor can take 650 volts. The Lexus CT200h is EPA rated 43 city, 40 highway, and 42 combined mpg.

The Lexus CT200h is a compact. One 6’3” driver complained that it felt a bit cramped. For premium features and a more classic sedan design, the Lincoln MKZ is a more roomy and worthy competitor to the Lexus hybrid and delivers 39 mpg. The MKZ is not a sports hybrid, rather it is a comfortable premium hybrid. The Lincoln, however lacks the cargo versatility of the Lexus CT200h, which is a hatchback with 60/40 fold-down rear seats. After touring mountain roads in Sports mode, you can open the Lexus liftback and remove your mountain bike, sports bags, and camping gear.

The Lexus CT200h is so successful that it is likely to be the successor of the Lexus HS 250h. The customer reception for this new compact Lexus CT200h will encourage Toyota to bring to market a more sporty, more compact, and more fuel efficient Prius c in 2012. To meet customers wide ranging needs, and continue to dominate the hybrid car market, Toyota and Lexus will expand to offering over 20 different hybrid models in the month ahead. The Lexus CT200h is one of the most appealing.

Whether you are on a fun escape, loading up at the big box stores, or taking a business client to lunch, the versatile Lexus CT200h will impress.

Lexus CT 200h Specifications

Pricing & Fees CT 200h
Base MSRP $29,120
Delivery, Processing
& Handling Fee
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Engine CT 200h
Type In-line 4, Atkinson cycle, aluminum block and head
Displacement 1.8 liters (110 cubic inches)
Valvetrain Dual cam, four valves per cylinder, with continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)
Compression Ratio 13.0:1
Electric-Drive Motor High-output, permanent-magnet, electric-drive motor with EV mode
Total System Horsepower 134 hp
Fuel Requirement Regular unleaded, 87 octane
Emission Rating Certified Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV II)
Performance CT 200h
0-60 MPH Acceleration 9.8 seconds
Top Track Speed (electronically limited) 113 mph
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (city/highway/combined) 43/40/42 mpg
Aerodynamic Drag Coefficient 0.29
Turning Circle 34.2 ft
Drivetrain CT 200h
Transmission Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)
Drive Wheels Front-wheel drive
Chassis CT 200h
Suspension (front) Independent, MacPherson struts with coil springs, low-friction shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
Suspension (rear) Independent, double-wishbone with coil springs, low-friction shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
Steering Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system
Brakes Four-wheel power-assisted discs with Electronic Controlled Braking (ECB), four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist
Brake Size 10.0-in ventilated front, 10.9-in solid rear discs with regenerative braking function
Wheels and Tires 17 x 7.0-in 10-spoke alloy wheels with 215/45R17 all-season tires. Compact spare tire/wheel
Wheels and Tires (available) Available: F Sport™ 17 x 7.0 trident-5-spoke alloy wheels with 215/45R17 all-season tires. Compact spare tire/wheel
Body / Dimensions CT 200h
Type 5-passenger hybrid 5-door luxury sedan
Construction Welded-steel unibody
Curb Weight 3,130 lb (1,420 kg)
Overall Length 170.1 in (4,320 mm)
Width 69.5 in (1,765 mm)
Height 56.7 in (1,440 mm)
Wheelbase 102.4 in (2,600 mm)
Ground Clearance 5.7 in (145 mm)
Fuel-Tank Capacity 11.9 gal (45 L)
Cargo Capacity 14.3 cu ft (405 L) (behind rear seats)
Headroom 38.9/37.0 in (989/940 mm) (front/rear w/out moonroof)
Leg Room 42.1/32.9 in (1,069/835 mm) (front/rear)
Shoulder Room 54.0/52.6 in (1,372/1,335 mm) (front/rear)
Hip Room 53.1/51.8 in (1,348/1,315 mm) (front/rear)
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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

3 thoughts on “Lexus CT200h – An Owners Experience with a Hybrid Sport Car

  1. Edwin
    June 10, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Well I love our Lexus’ feel, and I waited impatiently for the HS to come out. It came out, saw the price and look of it and passed. Now this comes out, and the looks are there but I am sure the price will be abhorrent as well. Oh well.

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