The 2014 Lexus CT 200h five-door sedan (front-wheel drive) is the smallest of the five hybrid vehicles that Lexus offers and – pound for pound – presents every bit as good a hybrid value as its siblings, albeit in a smaller package. And, when you take it up to the F Sport version, it is downright impressive after adding the distinctive Lexus F Sport styling and performance features.
We recently spent a week in a 2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport hybrid (refreshed for this year) and found it to be a significantly better drive and ride experience than the 2013 F Sport that somewhat disappointed us when we tested it over a year ago.
For 2014, the Lexus CT 200h has taken a big step up in both looks and performance across several fronts starting at the front with a sportier fascia that includes a full Lexus spindle grille and extends to new front and rear bumpers, LED daytime running lights and updated fog lamp surrounds. They then added a new five-spoke 17-inch wheel design, LED rear license plate lighting, a larger rear spoiler, aero-stabilizing fins, shark fin antenna and a new scratch-resistant clear coat exterior paint.
On the inside there is an available thinner Display Audio (DA)/Navigation screen with the Lexus next generation multimedia system that features HD Radio real-time traffic and weather. When the equipped with the optional navigation system, it features their generation-two Remote Touch Interface. The audio experience is enhanced with new design (for both) standard six-speaker and premium 10-speaker audio systems. In addition the DA and navigation come with Bluetooth version 3.0 and dual USB. An updated steering wheel design gives the driver a better handle on performance while distinctive metallic interior ornamentation highlights the cabin luxury that also include new trims of Parchment NuLuxe and perforated Flaxen leather.
Our test 2014 CT 200h F Sport came in the new exterior Redline color that was topped off smartly with the F Sport unique black contrast roof which runs the full length of the cabin with some suggestion of a panoramic roof (which it does not have). But still a very smart look for this CT200h F Sport. Additionally, it included unique metal front scuff plates, distinctive metallic trim on the dash, a perforated leather steering wheel with F Sport badge, leather shift knob and aluminum sport pedals.
Other F Sport features include the F Sport-tuned suspension and new design 17-inch 5-twin spoke alloy wheels with two-tone graphite and machine finish. The new CT front profile is enhanced with the F Sport mesh grille while the new (larger) spoiler has two large air ducts with the rear featuring mesh fog lamp inserts with black surrounds.
The power train for the CT 200h delivers a much better performance from our experience of a year ago. It continues to be a parallel hybrid, now more effectively blending the power of its 1.8-liter gasoline engine with the electric motor through the electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT). The integration of the engine with the E-CVT for 2014 is very smooth and uses the combined 134 horsepower to deliver sporty torque with the right gearing to the road as needed – resulting in a smooth and responsive drive experience.
The 2014 Lexus CT 200h is also equipped with Lexus Drive Mode Selector system which has impressed us across several of their vehicles – most recently our week long ride and drive of the 2014 Lexus GS 450h.
In the CT 200h, the Drive Mode Selector offers EV, NORMAL, SPORT and ECO modes. NORMAL Mode provides the best all-around mix of performance and efficiency, with nicely calibrated progressive power buildup. We found that range and its operation of the power train to be very responsive to normal driving requirements.
For those wanting to improve on their gas mileage, selecting ECO Mode makes adjustments to the throttle response and adjusts climate control settings where appropriate to maximize fuel economy with power for drive becoming a first priority. When needed, or if drive conditions warrant (short distance and low speed driving), the EV Mode can be selected for all electric power.
Our favorite, again in the CT 200h F Sport was the SPORT Mode which gave us a much sharper throttle response with commensurate E-CVT operation – plus a tighter response from the Electronic Power Steering – all giving us a very sporty and more of a driver-in-control feel wherever we drove our test CT 200h F Sport during the week.
With NORMAL or ECO, one should expect (based on their personal driving style and road conditions) to get fuel economy around 43/40 mpg City/Highway with an expected average of 42 mpg. If you like the responsive performance of driving in SPORT Mode, you will get a bit less depending on how heavy your throttle foot is.
The base price (MSRP) for the 2014 Lexus CT 200h hybrid is $32,050 and it comes very well equipped at that price. Our test CT 200 then added the Navigation System Package ($3,490) plus the 10-Speaker Audio and included Backup Camera, Lexus Enform with App Suite and the Remote Touch Controller. Intuitive Park Assist (front and rear) was also added for $500. But it was still not an F Sport.
The F Sport Luxury Package ($3,325) added the distinctive F Sport exterior and interior design elements along with Rain Sensing Wipers, Auto Dimming Outside Mirrors with Reverse Tilt, Heated Front Seats and Power Passenger Seat. Completing the F Sport was the inclusion of the LED Headlamps with Dynamic Auto-Leveling and Washers plus LED Foglamps – ($1,265).
With delivery, our 2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport hybrid priced at $41,540. The CT 200h is now a very good entry level vehicle with hybrid economy to the Lexus brand.