The Sporty Luxury Hatchback That Gets 40+ mpg
Not many true hatchbacks remain, and of those that do, a luxury hatchback is the true rare beast. Lexus knows this and has designed the 2017 CT 200h F Sport to draw interest from younger buyers looking to move into something sporty and more seasoned drivers looking to downsize, but still stand out from the crowd. High fuel economy is the calling card for the CT 200h F Sport, but there is more to it than stretching a tank of gas.
The 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport is powered by Lexus Hybrid Drive. This consists of a parallel hybrid system where the electric motor can power the car by itself, the gas engine can power the car by itself, or they can power the car together. This extremely reliable and tested combination is found in Toyota and Lexus hybrid models. The Lexus Hybrid Drive system comprises a 1.8L DOHC, four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with two electric generators producing 134 horsepower, mated to an electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (e-CVT). EPA fuel estimates are 43 city/40 highway/42 mpg combined. In 445 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving, Clean Fleet Report achieved 37.8 mpg. Had we spent more time in the city with stop and go traffic, we would have easily equaled the EPA combined rating.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system automatically switches between the electric drive mode, combined electric/gasoline engine and gasoline-only engine power. The transitions, monitored by viewing the dash gauges, are seamless and smooth. When driving the CT 200h, I liked the option to select electric only, or EV mode, especially when cruising around town in stop and go traffic. The EV mode is activated by pushing a button. If you are gentle on the accelerator pedal, you can go up-to 25 mph in pure electric power for 15 miles.
The hybrid system’s nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery is replenished through the regenerative charging system. This technology converts kinetic energy into electric energy and stores it in the battery when applying the brakes or coasting. The process can be viewed on a dash gauge where you can watch the power flow into and out of the battery and electric motors.
The center console-mounted Drive Mode Select dial allows the driver to choose between Eco, Normal and Sport. All of these drive modes have a selection light on the instrument cluster. Of these settings, I spent most of my highway time in Eco, which maximized throttle response for the best fuel economy. Normal is a compromise for efficiency, ride and handling, but to get any fun and performance out of the CT 200h F Sport, you need to be in Sport mode. But with this said, the CT 200h F Sport is not a fast car. It’s most noticeable when merging onto highways, where you will be left wanting the power to match the car’s sporty look. Almost 10 seconds to 60 miles per hour is less than scintillating.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport’s four-wheel fully independent suspension has specially tuned dampers and springs. The MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone rear provide a stiff but stable ride with little body roll when cornering hard. The rack-and-pinion steering with electric assist was programmed for good driver feedback. The 17-inch, five-spoke machine-finished alloy wheels were shod with 215/45R 17 all-season tires that provided good grip, but contributed to a harsh ride on rough roads.
Stopping distance and brake pedal feel were both good. The CT 200h F Sport was outfitted with 10-inch ventilated front and solid 10-inch rear discs. The result were straight and consistent stops enhanced by traction and vehicle stability control. The electronically controlled brake system incorporates regenerative control and power-assisted, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution. If you are not familiar with hybrid technology, when coming to a stop, the combination of the regenerative braking and the hybrid motor made a noticeable, but not unpleasant, whine.
Driving Experience: Exterior
Saying “the F Sport package delivers sporty flare,” Lexus is being modest as the CT 200h F Sport has an unique design and sleek proportions. Beginning with the low stance, the CT 200h F Sport is a pretty cool looking car. Style cues for the F Sport are black trim, the aforementioned five-spoke wheels and low profile tires. The Lexus trademark mesh grille stands-out, as does the optional blacked-out power moonroof and the integrated rear hatch spoiler and shark antenna. LED headlights, fog and driving lamps up front and LED taillights complete the package.
Driving Experience: Interior
Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 Lexus CT 200h had the optional F Sport Luxury Package. Added upgrades to an already nice interior, with excellent fit and finish, included a perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, heated smooth leather front seats and aluminum sport pedals. The tilt and telescoping collapsible steering column and the 10-way power driver seat made finding a comfortable driving position easy. The low profile of the CT 200h made for a slick exterior design but it also means a very low seating position. Along with the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Scion FR-S, the CT 200h seat height is among the lowest of cars Clean Fleet Report has reviewed. Sitting so low takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you are accustomed to a regular height car, let alone a crossover or SUV.
The black dash is set-off with white top stitching and brushed aluminum accents that also appear on the doors and steering wheel. All controls are convenient to reach and use, and the gauges (black faces with white numbers) are easy to see and read. When selecting the Sport drive mode, the left gauge that normally shows power use converts into a tachometer.
The rear cabin is a tight fit for anyone other than a pre-teen child. The best use for the rear seat is when the seat back is lowered and the storage area becomes very useful for two taking a long weekend road trip.
The optional F Sport Luxury package includes navigation and the Lexus Enform System. The 10-speaker premium audio system is part of the Luxury package with SiriusXM/FM/CD/HD AM radio with iPod/MP3 playback capability and Siri Eyes Free. The CD FM/AM HD is a cache radio that offers the ability to pause and playback twenty minutes of programming. There is an auxiliary audio jack, USB ports, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and hands-free phone capability. The auto-dimming rearview mirror was Homelink equipped, and the voice recognition technology for the telephone worked well.
The cockpit design is driver friendly, featuring a dual-zone automatic climate system and a center console storage box and cup holders. The interior also has power windows with one touch up/down, power door locks, Smart Access with push button stop/start, 12V power outlets, individual front reading lamps, heated and power adjustable side mirrors.
One area I found lacking in the CT 200h is that it did not come standard with any Advanced Driver Assist Technologies, such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and other advanced safety systems. When a buyer is stepping-up to a luxury Lexus from a Toyota, some or all of these systems should be standard. Optional on the CT 200h is a pre-collision system and Intuitive Parking Assist.
Safety, Convenience and Warranties
The 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport is well equipped with active and passive safety features including eight air bags, tire pressure monitoring system, rain sensing wipers, remote entry, electric trunk and fuel filler door releases with valet lock-out and push button start/stop. Also included are cruise control, automatic collision notification, first aid kit, intuitive parking assist, anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer and a rear view camera.
The 2017 CT 200h F Sport comes with these warranties:
- Basic – Four years/50,000 miles
- Powertrain – Six years/70,000 miles
- Hybrid-related Component Coverage – Eight years/100,000 miles
- Comprehensive – Three years/36,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation – Six years/Unlimited miles
- Roadside Assistance – Four years/Unlimited miles
The 2017 Lexus CT 200h has a base MSRP of $31,250, with the F Sport base price at $32,980. Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 CT 200h F Sport, with option packages, had a MSRP of $40,920. All prices do not include the $975 delivery, processing and handling fee.
Observations: 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport
The 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport only comes with a hybrid powertrain, which can be a let-down considering how sporty the car looks. If this car had an upgraded hybrid system (which Lexus has in use now), the CT 200h F Sport would be a true sports hatchback, rivaling the best on the market. Until then, this car will be one of those that just looks great. You feel great driving it, since it does elicit interest from passersby. Your wallet will thank you for the stingy fuel economy, and you will revel in the luxury Lexus is known for.
Clean Fleet Report encourages you to visit your Lexus dealership and see what the 2017 CT 200h F Sport is all about. Take a lengthy test drive to experience the high quality workmanship, and have them walk you through all the features, technology and options, especially taking the time to explain the hybrid system in detail.
Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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