By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
Though you wouldn't know it by looking at its tidy sport-hatchback design, the 2012 Lexus CT 200h shares key underpinnings with the Toyota Prius, including its 1.8-liter engine and hybrid electric drive architecture. Handling is on the sporty side and steering is responsive. The CT 200h is the least-expensive Lexus, yet offers a nicely trimmed, feature-filled cabin. But rear seat room and cargo space are cramped and rearward visibility is poor. Road noise is intrusive for a Lexus, and the ride is choppy at times. EPA fuel economy estimates are excellent for a luxury car, but fall 8 mpg below the Prius.
The 5-door 2012 CT 200h may appeal to you if you want a well-equipped small hatchback car with sporty handling and the best fuel economy wearing a Lexus badge.
The CT 200h may not speak to you if you expect a luxury brand entry, even one that saves the planet, to be quiet, smooth-riding, powerful and roomy.
All-new for the 2011 model year, the 2012 CT 200h is little changed. Nebula Gray Pearl paint replaces Smoky Granite Mica this year. Also, new is a Vehicle Proximity Notification System that beeps when the little Lexus hybrid is in electric mode to alert cyclists and pedestrians.
Driving Impressions There is no getting around it, compared to the similarly sized and priced Audi A3, the Lexus CT 200h feels down on power. It just LOOKS faster than it drives....Freeway onramps just seem longer. The hybrid hatchback's blending of internal combustion and electric propulsion is as seamless as it is in a Prius. In fact, the pictogram that shows how the gas and electric systems are collaborating is an immense source of driver entertainment. Which is not to say the CT 200h isn't fun to drive on a back stretch of the twisties, it's just more fun doing so in Sport mode.
SELECTABLE DRIVING MODES
Lexus CT 200h drivers can choose between the Normal mode, which provides all-electric propulsion up to one mile at up to 28 mph, an Eco mode that slows throttle response to save gas, and a Sport that maxes engine revs, quickens steering and increases battery power.
NAVIGATION WITH REMOTE TOUCH CONTROLLER
This mouse-like device with haptic feedback just forward of the shifter gives the driver full control over the infotainment system without ever lifting a hand from the console.
Though snug, Lexus didn't scrimp on materials in the CT 200h cabin. The form-fitting front bucket seats are generously bolstered for lateral support. Attractive and brightly lit gauges are complemented by a prominent 8-inch LCD multi-display screen and sensuously curved, billet-like console shifter. Beyond the sporty, the CT 200h gains green cred with standard simulated leather that's 60% lighter than real hides, speaker frames made from bamboo, and floormats and other interior trim constructed from 30% plant-based materials. Missing, however, are paddle shifters for manual control of the continuously-variable automatic transmission.Exterior
Far from being an old man's gray Lexus sedan, the 2012 CT 200h looks like a hot hatch with class. It may be a hybrid with Prius internals, but the image it projects, from its jutting, low-slung nose and arrowhead LED running lamps to its muscular wheel arches, steeply raked roofline and deep rear spoiler, is one of sporty sophistication. Slightly smallish in the wheel openings are the 17-inch tires, but larger ones might hurt the car's excellent fuel economy. The CT 200h doesn't look out of place next to an Audi A3, BMW 1 Series or Mazda Mazda3 5-door.
Among other Lexus luxury touches, the base model comes with keyless entry, dual-zone A/C, a 10-way power driver's seat, a 6-speaker audio system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth interface and SiriusXM satellite radio. Opting for the Premium model adds heated front seats and a moonroof. There is no base cruise control system, just the expensive dynamic system sold as an option.
The comprehensive CT 200h Navigation Package adds a backup camera, voice-command HDD tilt-screen nav system with remote controller, Lexus Enform emergency notification system, NavTraffic and other features. The better kitted-out CT 200hs will also have the Leather Package, which besides real leather also includes rain-sense wipers, electrochromic mirrors and memory driver's seat. The optional dynamic cruise control is combined with a Pre-Collision System that warns of an impending crash. Also available is an F-Sport Package that adds sportier-still suspension, high-gloss wheels, a mesh grille and larger rear spoiler, and further interior leather trim and metallic accents. A power passenger seat, however, is not available.
By channeling the Prius's renowned 98-hp 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and 80-hp electric drive motor, the Lexus CT 200h is way ahead of the competition in the fuel economy department – 43 mpg in the EPA city cycle is nothing to sneeze at. But the 10-second 0-60 mph acceleration performance that feels so socially responsible in a Prius is a bit of a letdown in a sporty luxury-brand car that looks like it should run with Audis and BMWs.
1.8-liter inline-4/AC 650-volt permanent-magnet motor
98 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (gas engine)/80 horsepower (electric motor)/134 horsepower (combined)
105 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/40 mpg
As the Lexus brand's most affordable 2012 model, the base CT 200h retails for just over $29,000, while the CT 200h Premium sells for just under $32,000. Well-equipped models with options like navigation, leather, premium audio and dynamic cruise control can approach the $40,000 level. The Lexus CT 200h hatchback is comparably priced to the Audi A3. Based on the reliability history of Lexus models and the Prius architecture, the CT 200h should perform well above average when it comes to resale value. Kelley Blue Book estimates that the 2012 CT 200h will retain 51% of its value after three years. One value alternative is the Mazda Mazda3 5-door, which offers a lot of the same sporty style and sharp handling, plus much better acceleration for $10,000 less, but the Mazda doesn't come close to the CT 200h's excellent fuel economy.
By Cheryl (NY) on Monday, July 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great MPG, great price, fun to drive"
Cons: "Drivers seat doesn't sit up straight enough,bumpy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the CT 200 the first year it was made. It was a great decision. I love the dependability of the car. It gets 41 mpg whether its stop and go city traffic, or highway traffic, as advertised. I gave it a 9 for driving dynamics because it is a little bumpier than the Lexus 350. I also gave it a 9 for comfort because the drivers seat doesn't sit straight enough for me. Otherwise, the car is perfect and I'm going to keep it for a long time."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Gator (FL) on Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,965overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable, great mileage, fair price"
Cons: "feel every bump on dirt road, too deep cup holders"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"With a new grandson 900 miles away, we decided to look for the best combination of comfort/mileage/price we could find. The CT200H seems to be it. We just went on a 2000 mile round trip and found the comfort to be as good as any car we've owned. Overall the mileage was about 48 MPG...a little less going uphill to Western PA...a little more back down to the coast. And we got a fair deal; just a bit more than the Prius. I won't comment on the power or handling performance. That is not what we bought it for. But it is certainly as good as we need."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By LeftBrain56 (CA) on Friday, July 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Economy, build quality, handling, styling"
Cons: "Slow, some chintzy attributes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I traded my old ES300 for a CT because I wanted a smaller car and was looking for not good, not great, but fabulous gas mileage. The CT delivers on the gas mileage; I've owned the car for 17 months, have 22K miles and it has consistently delivered 48-49 MPG in a mix of fairly slow/congested freeway and around-town driving. I have had a few tankfuls at about 46 MPG on freeway trips and have gotten as high as 51. I am very happy with the CT, but it does take some getting used to. It is slow off the line, but that is OK with me - it is not dangerously slow and contrary to some reviews, the Sport mode does help with low-end torque. After the first few months, I now rarely use the Sport-Norm-Eco selector, although I occasionally do use Sport around town. It's really small and it took some getting used to after the ES. The back seat IS passable for two adults, but front-seaters must move their seats up. I rarely have people in back, so this is not an issue for me. There is no center armrest in back, nor are there cup holders, which I don't like. I enjoy driving the car: the seat comfort & steering wheel are excellent as is the driving position (I'm 5'11"). I've read much criticism of the console & dash as looking "dated"; I personally really like these appointments and think the reviewers are full of beans. I like the instrumentation, NAV & other appointments. Use of Bluetooth & USB-connected phone is annoying; I think it should have been better-designed. Voice-operation & NAV have been excellent for me. The stereo is Fair, in my opinion. I'm a bit of an audiophile and this stereo can't touch the Levinson or the old Nakamichi in my ES. It does deliver Good/Very Good sound at higher volumes only, IMO. I don't have any issue with room for luggage, etc. in the rear. The hatch is convenient, the rear seat can fold down; I have no problems with this. Some do. The car is a bit on the loud side in a few ways: the CVT-Constant Variable Transmission can whine loudly, especially on hills and during road trips with hilly terrain. Whomping on the gas, even though I don't do it often, will give a lot of trans & engine noise that subsides when you let up. I do think Lexus insulates well to the extent possible. In my experience, this is a significant difference between 'equivalent' Toyota and Lexus models, as a very general rule. The ride can be rough on bad roads. My stock Michelin Primacy X tires optimize mileage, wear well, but are hard. The CT can be a rough ride, but 85+% of the time, is just fine. Certain aspects of the interior seem chintzy to me, especially having owned the ES for 10 years. The door interiors are a good example. The seats & front interior are just fine, however. If you're looking for luxury ride or appointments one would normally find in a Lexus, you won't get it. Just know that going in. I personally prefer this car over its 'counterpart', the Prius, by a wide margin. This is very much a matter of personal preference, I understand. I'm happy with the CT, I'm glad I bought it and think it's a great car. I do miss the ES and the more luxurious attributes of Lexus sometimes, though."
15 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Essayons (VA) on Saturday, March 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "seats, ride, headlights, mpg"
Cons: "the phone holder"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Owned a 2006 Prius with 145k. Loved it and I was going to get another Prius. Test drove the ct200 and that was all she wrote. It is a luxurious prius that looks sporty (daughter really likes the look). I have been getting 45mpg so far and I think as I get better at driving it I will get close to 50mpg. The seats are very comfortable with good side support. Really happy with this car."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By prosperity (International) on Sunday, January 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "A good car in every way, and economical and fun."
Cons: "Ummmmmmm ..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My partner bought a CT and I stopped using my car, so I traded it in for a second CT. I like the features, comfort, quiet, handling and ... economy. It's rated high on the safety scale and when you need it, Lexus service is great. Most of all I enjoy driving this car. Every time I'm behind the wheel I find it fun to drive. I've had a few cars in my time including Mercedes and other Lexus, but I think this car is becoming my all time favourite. I love it!"
13 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By mbgh1111 (TX) on Monday, December 31, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "It's a pleasure to drive. I always feel safe."
Cons: "Needs little more room between front & back seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love our CT200H. We do some long-distance driving and almost always get between 42.5 and 46.0 MPG. Average fill up for us is 7 gallons. This car is extremely comfortable for front seat passengers. Could use a little more foot room in back seat but not a problem for us. Road handling is great. Love the fact that this car is small enough to fit in between concrete road barriers with room to spare and there is no problem in keeping up with heavy traffic. Easily goes 70 mph speed limit and still have pick-up. We are already planning to buy another CT once my husband retires. Best car we've ever had and a pleasure to make long trips in."
9 people out of 9 found this review helpful