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Lexus CT 200h serves as luxury version of Toyota Prius

The Lexus CT 200h benefitted from a handful of styling updates for 2014, including a new front-end design featuring a spindle grille and new front bumer.
The Lexus CT 200h benefitted from a handful of styling updates for 2014, including a new front-end design featuring a spindle grille and new front bumer.
Paul Borden

2014 Lexus CT 200h

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Introduced as a 2011 model, the Lexus CT 200h serves as a viable upscale option for those car shoppers who like the overall idea of its cousin, the Toyota Prius, but want something a bit more upscale.

Sharing its gas-electric drivetrain with the Prius, the vehicle that lit off the hybrid craze at the turn of the century, the CT 200h adds a touch of Lexus luxury to the hatchback segment without sacrificing the benefits of the high gas mileage the Toyota model delivers.

With ratings of 43 miles-per-gallon city, 40 highway, the CT 200h offers fuel savings of more than $5,200 a year over your typical new car, according to federal government standards, which, if true (these are the government’s numbers, after all) could up make up for the difference in initial cost for the luxury model.

The 2014 CT 200h carries an MSRP of $32,050 (not including the $910 destination and delivery charge), which is the same as the outgoing 2013 model.

That makes the CT 200h the least expensive entry in the Lexus stable, nearly $7,000 less than ES 300h, the hybrid version of the popular ES sedan.

But you don’t get quite all the leather and wood trim in the CT that you expect from Lexus. The cabin, however, is still a big step up in quality materials from the world of plastic the Prius, despite its popularity among celebrities, offers.

The CT 200h comes in only one trim level offering such features as a moonroof, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth technology, but can be upgraded via options and option packages.

The Navigation package ($3,490) features a good-size display screen and is operated by the Lexus Remote Touch controller, a mouse-like device that rests on the center console. You use the device in a “point-and-click” operation that not only can take some getting used to, also can be a distraction for the driver. Frankly, there’s got to be a better way, but Lexus engineers apparently have fallen in love with it and you’ll find this system throughout the company’s lineup.

The NuLuxe seats (fake stuff on a Lexus? Tsk, tsk) are comfortable enough, and perforated leather-trimmed seats are available in an option. There is nice legroom up front, but the back can get cramped, especially if the driver’s seat is moved back. Cargo volume is 14.3 cubic feet, good for a sedan but not-so-much for a hatchback.

Other than comfort (at least for those in the front), the CT 200h doesn’t offer much in the way of driving experience. The 1.8-liter gas engine and electric motor generate a only 134 combined horsepower with 98 hp and 105 pound-feet of torque coming from the gas engine alone.

Matched with a CVT (continuously variable transmission), the CT 200h takes nearly 10 seconds to get from a standing stop to 60 mph (9.8 seconds according to the company) but once up to speed, it does handle nicely and is comfortable on the open road.

The CT 200h comes with four driver-selectable settings. Normal is, well, normal and suitable for most conditions. Sport jacks up throttle response and gives a better steering feel and is probably the most fun choice. Eco mode is for those jerks who like to bore you at parties with tales of how many miles they got on a tank of gas (regular unleaded, by the way) and is just the opposite of Sport when it comes to dulling down performance.

The CT 200h also may be driven for short distances and at low speed, very low, in EV, or all-electric, mode.

For a look at the Lexus CT 200h and more specs, check out the accompanying slide show.