By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 9.0
The 2016 Lexus CT 200h hybrid is a Prius for those who want excellent fuel economy, but don't want to drive a mainstream brand. We mean that literally: The CT 200h and Prius share a hybrid powertrain, suspension, and other basic underpinnings. Yet you'd be hard-pressed to tell. The grille, now ringed in chrome, is straight from the Lexus school of design, and the interior leathers and wood trim are unlike anything you can get in a Prius. While its fuel economy isn't quite up to the Prius standard, it offers a bit more power in return, helping establish it as a fuel-efficiency leader in a luxury class that includes the Audi A3 e-tron and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.
The CT 200h looks sporty, and while it's more fun than a Prius, that's a pretty low bar, and it doesn't deliver the kind of quick acceleration its bodywork suggests. The Audi A3 e-tron costs more, but has battery-only power and is notably more powerful.
KBB Expert Ratings
Not much is new for the 2016 Lexus CT 200h. It gets a revamped grille with a bright chrome surround, an optional moonroof, and like many 2016 Lexus models, the Enform app suite now offers Enform Remote and Lexus Service Connect.
If you're hoping the 2016 Lexus CT 200h has the acceleration and handling to back up its sporty hatchback looks, you'll likely be a little disappointed. This isn't...
... a fast car, or even a very quick one, and sporty-luxury buyers would be better served with an Audi A3, or even the Cadillac ELR. However, if you instead just want a sporty-looking, comfortable, reliable and -- most important -- ridiculously fuel-efficient luxury car that won't break the bank, the Lexus CT 200h is exactly what you need. And it's not completely without its driving charms, thanks to a Sport mode that sharpens the steering and throttle response. There's even an F-Sport model that adds stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, albeit at the expense of the ride quality. Still, while not as library-quiet as other Lexus cars, the CT is at its best when cruising.
SELECTABLE DRIVING MODES
You can choose three different driving modes in the 2016 Lexus CT 200h. Eco offers less aggressive throttle response, helping improve fuel economy, while Sport gets more aggressive, quickening the steering response and increasing battery output for maximum power. Normal mode should be self-explanatory.
DISPLAY AUDIO REMOTE TOUCH
Lexus infotainment systems use a unique mouse-like interface controller called Remote Touch. Mounted on the center console, this joystick-like device moves a cursor on the screen, providing tactile feedback when the cursor goes over a "button" on screen. It's very clever and cool.
"Cozy" is the perfect word for the 2026 CT 200h interior. It's definitely snug, as there's not a lot of room, especially in the back seat. However, the materials and workmanship are right where you'd expect from a luxury brand like Lexus. The front seats offer plenty of side support for those times you decide to drive aggressively, and the bright gauges and big multifunction display look high-tech. It's all eco-conscious too, with simulated leather that's 60 percent lighter than cowhide, bamboo speaker frames, and floor mats and other interior trim made from 30-percent plant-based materials.
Lexus has done a masterful job of hiding the Prius roots in the CT 200h. Where the Prius looks amorphous to the point of being spongy, the Lexus CT 200h hybrid has sharp creases in the sheet metal, LED headlights, muscular wheel arches, a deep rear spoiler, and of course the characteristic Lexus "spindle" grille treatment. It's all very aggressive and intimidating, although it's also writing checks the performance can't cash. Nonetheless, it's a sharp and classy way to get around town, although the fuel-conscious 17-inch wheels look a little dopey.
All Lexus cars come with an overall sense of just being nice, which of course is part of the Lexus bargain. Aside from that, the CT 200h comes standard with extras like keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, 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. The Premium model adds heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers and a moonroof. A lot of that -- such as keyless entry -- sound par for the course on a luxury car, but you'd be surprised how often they're actually optional extras.
Option packages for the Lexus CT 200h hybrid include a Seat Comfort package which adds heated seats and a power passenger seat, while the F Sport package gives the suspension some bite and dresses up the exterior. The Navigation Package tells you where you're going with a voice-command HDD tilt-screen nav system, and includes a rearview camera, the Lexus Remote Touch controller, the Lexus Enform emergency-notification system, and other features. The leather package adds leather upholstery, plus auto-dimming mirrors and memory driver's seat. The optional dynamic cruise control is combined with a Pre-Collision System that warns of an impending crash.
Driving the Lexus CT 200h really demonstrates how optimized the Toyota Prius is for fuel economy. While the Prius, with the same 98-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and 80-horsepower electric-drive motor, gets 50 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway, the Lexus, thanks to different tuning and a lot more (heavy) luxury equipment, gets a still-respectable 43 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The downside is that all this social responsibility results in acceleration response that's a leisurely 10 seconds from a standstill to 60 mph, a bit of a letdown from a sporty-looking 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 (gasoline engine)/80 horsepower (electric motor)/134 horsepower (combined)
105 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/40 mpg
The roughly $32,000 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a base model 2016 Lexus CT 200h is the lowest you can pay for a new Lexus vehicle of any kind. Of course, that's before options, but even if you start adding options like navigation, dynamic cruise control and the F Sport package, the little Lexus still barely cracks the $40,000 mark. That's a bargain, really, so this is one of those instances where we say go ahead and splurge! The prices compare nicely to other small luxury cars, like the Audi A3, which offers better performance for a little more money. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are paying for the CT 200h. Lexus cars generally, and the Toyota Prius specifically, have very good reliability histories, which bodes well for the resale value of the CT 200h hybrid.