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First Drive: 2014 Lexus CT200h

2014 Lexus CT200h

There is always going to be sacrifices when it comes to choosing the right car. If you want something fast you have to be willing to give up comfort and gas mileage. But if you want something that’s more on the fuel sipping end, then get ready to lose horsepower… or anything that provides some sort of entertainment. It seems though, Lexus is being a bit greedy, they not only want to have their cake, but they want to lick that sport flavor frosting right off the spoon too… with the CT200h F SPORT Package.

Now don’t let that Redline Paint fool you – this is a Hybrid. A 134 horsepower front wheel drive carriage meshed with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and an Electric Drive Motor wired to an electronically controlled CVT transmission. To add salt to the wound, it takes nearly 10 seconds to 60 mph from an engine that seems to yell “slow down, I’m supposed to be economical.”

But from behind the thick perforated leather wrapped sport designed steering wheel, there’s an infamous letter ‘F’ we’ve become accustomed to, and that changes. That letter however comes with its price; $3,325 will need to be ponied up. For that you get a long list of features that hides the fact that this CT200h is still a Hybrid – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Sure, it takes close to 10 seconds to 60, but it makes up for it in the drivability department. It’s actually fairly fun to drive – if you’re not the in a hurry kind of person. Acceleration may be slow but it’s enough to keep up with the traffic hustle. There is decent handling from behind the wheel that provides a good range feedback and responsive maneuvers with sharp, crisp turns. The F SPORT suspension does firm things up giving a bumpy ride over those pesky pot holes. At least the chassis feels solid which shows in the tight bends with minimal body roll and frisky brakes that account for a decent stopping distance.

Let’s not forget though, this is still Hybrid. The transition from electric to gas is smooth and unnoticeable. The need for power is immediate with no lag from the “oh you mean go pedal.”  Fuel consumption is promised at 43 city and 40 highway with a combined average of 42 mpg. We exceeded those figures during our week of testing with a combined rating at 49 mpg – not bad for something that can provide hint of fun. With all that fuel sipping, we did manage to pull out a remarkable 420 miles on regular unleaded fuel out of a 12 gallon tank.

Lexus did an impressive job when it came to the overall styling cues of the CT200h. We can count on one finger how many good looking hybrids there are on the market – the Honda CR-Z . Even without the F SPORT badging the CT200h is a handsome hatch. We like its silhouette and squared off look. That before mentioned F SPORT Package brings out its “sporty” side with 17” smoked alloy wheels, a black mesh spindle grille, a black roof, and distinctive ‘F’ badge posers on the side. Add in our Redline paint and it makes for quite the head turner.

Inside it’s very Lexus-e. Black leather seats, quality fit and finish, and an overall comfortable atmosphere. As part of the F SPORT Package, our sampled CT200h was well equipped with tons interior goodies: Power Adjustable Heated Front Sport Seats, Black Headliner, Aluminum Sport Pedals, Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel and Shift Knob, Rain Sensing Wipers, and Metal Trimmed faux carbon fiber accents… along with a longer list of unnecessary necessities.

Like we mentioned before, it’s very traditional Lexus. The seats are comfortable and provide excellent lateral support. The power adjustable front driver and passenger seats means always finding the sweet spot in comfort. The back seats provide decent thigh support and can fit a child perfectly, not so much an adult though. From behind the driver seat there is an ease of access to everything – the steering wheel controls are nicely laid out and the Remote Touch controller to our $3,490 Navigation system has always been something we enjoyed and found easy to use. Included in that Nav Package offers up a crystal clear Backup Camera, Lexus Enform, HD Radio and 10-Speaker Premium Audio System – this is always a nice feature to have.

We got asked… once… , “why would consumers choose a Prius over the CT200h?”. We couldn’t really answer that. What we can say is that the CT200h is more enjoyable to drive, is better to look at and is nearly $800 more than a top spec’d Prius. Starting at $32,050 it’s a hybrid worth looking in to. If you could spare a few more bucks, go for the $500 Intuitive Park Assist and the totally unnecessary, but necessary F SPORT LED Package which offer better looking headlamps and LED fog lights as seen here on our sampled car.

2014 Lexus CT200h: $32,050
Destination: $910
Intuitive Park Assist: $500
F SPORT LED Package: $1,265
F SPORT Package: $3,325
Navigation Package: $3,490
Grand Total: $41,540


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