Behind the Wheel – 2011 Lexus CT 200h

Lexus brings luxury to the sport compact segment.

CraveOnlineby CraveOnline

Lexus CT 200h

The Lexus CT 200h has been on our radar for some time. We got our first look at the car last year (Lexus CT 200h), and shortly after it appeared on our Top Hybrids to Look out for in 2011 list. So when we heard that the 200h had made it to the Los Angeles press fleet, we could not pass up the chance to take the car for a spin.

The model that we took out sported the “Daybreak Yellow Mica” color, which was not my favorite of the seven available colors. Paint aside; I was pretty impressed with the look of the car, which is very sporty. The interior of the car was notable as well; the 200h has the look and feel that you have come to expect from Lexus, from the Remote Touch controller, optional moonroof and leather seats, to the chrome shifter. I haven’t even started the car and it’s already made an impression on me.

For current Lexus drivers you will find some familiar features such as the pop up navigation screen/media display on top of the dashboard, push button starter and the Remote Touch controller (the mouse). I was not a fan of the Remote Touch on other models in the past, but this version had a more tactile responsiveness that made it easy to use while controlling the navigation, satellite radio or phone features.

Lexus CT 200h

The technology in the car is accessible and fairly intuitive to use and set up. The Bluetooth setup was a breeze which allowed me to quickly access my phone and stream music to the stereo system, as well as make calls. The car also had an ‘Electronic Device Holder’ to hold your phone or media device, which was located at the bottom of the center console. It was a cool addition but it slightly obstructed access to the lower stereo controls.

How does the CT 200h hold up as a hybrid car? It does pretty well actually. The car has a combined MPG of 42 and an 11.9 gallon tank, which means a lot of miles between trips to the gas stations. I drove the car for two weeks and only made one trip to the gas station. Under the hood is an In-Line 4 with an electric drive motor, which gets 134 hp, and can go from 0 to 60 in 9.8 seconds.

This car has a unique feature; multiple different driving modes. The EV (Electric Vehicle) mode is activated by a button on the lower center console and it allows the car to run solely on the battery at low speeds for a short distance, which is basically a green ‘stealth mode’, as the emissions cease and the engine noise is minimized. The ECO, Normal and Sport modes are controlled by a dial just to the right of the shifter. The ECO mode optimizes the drive for maximum fuel efficiency, while it’s slightly cooler sibling the Sport mode, gives you more battery power, added responsiveness and less restrictive traction and stability systems. I call it the ‘kind of fast and somewhat furious mode’. One cool design touch is that when you change the drive mode from ECO to Sport, the instrument panel changes from blue to red and the hybrid power gauge is replaced by a tachometer.

Lexus CT 200h

The car is pretty low to the ground and handles more like a luxury car and less like a hybrid. The 200h also had two great visibility features, fold down rear headrests and a wide rear gate window that when combined really allowed for a less restricted rear view. The cargo area in the back has a decent amount of room for a compact.

The base MSRP for the CT 200h is $29,120, which covers a lot of features. If you want premium audio, navigation, leather, pre-collision or LED packages, those will run extra.

All in all the CT 200h is a fun addition to the sport compact segment, and since it’s a hybrid you can spend more time on the road and less time at the pump.

For more info on the CT 200h, head to the official site – Lexus CT 200h.