I hadn’t driven the Lexus CT 200h hybrid Cross Tourer since its launch four years ago, despite my efforts to the contrary. I enjoyed testing the new hybrid-only wagon-like vehicle from Toyota’s luxury division and looked forward to spending a full week behind the wheel, but it did not come to fruition until only recently. And I still liked it.
As I mentioned, the CT 200h is offered with a hybrid gasoline/electric powertrain only, no gasoline counterpart in the just as Prius is done in Toyota showrooms. The Lexus Synergy Hybrid Drive system consists of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine mated to an electric motor with an electronic continuously variable transmission blending each units power and applying that to the front wheels. A second electric motor handles the duties of engine starter and generator for the 201.6V sealed Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack.
Drivers can operate the CT 200h in any of four operating modes including EV (Electric Vehicle) only, Eco, Normal and Sport. I split my time between Normal and Sport, although I did test the EV mode that allows the car to run silently for short distances at low speeds. Eco mode was just too wimpy for me, as it tailors both throttle and climate systems for maximum efficiency by reducing output from each.
New for 2014 was the addition of the F Sport variant trim package to the CT lineup, and our tester arrived in such. On top of a tight, sporty chassis, F Sport adds an exclusive grille with signature mesh pattern, rear spoiler, sport-tuning in the suspension system and unique wheels, perforated leather steering wheel, and shift knob.
All 2014 model CT 200h vehicles get the new Lexus signature spindle grille, LED daytime running lights, front and rear fascia styling updates, shark fin antenna and updated technology including new display audio with remote touch controller and remote touch interface for navigation.
Lexus has given CT 200h a very sporty, very responsive chassis and driving experience. It rides a little on the tight side in the suspension, but many will appreciate this as being so non-typical Lexus and more European in feel and drive. The hybrid powertrain is very responsive, and it always has the vehicle operating at peak powerband until the driver lifts from the accelerator pedal. All CT 200h models ride on 17-inch wheels and tires, and they feature MacPherson strut front and indpendent double-wishbone rear suspension systems with a unique lateral performance damper system to absorb and minimize body vibrations allowing for more linear steering feel and further enhanced ride comfort.
That steering, by the way, is electric (rack and pinion with electronic power assist), and it offers good feedback to the driver without being too “wimpy” or loose-feeling. The brake system is electronically controlled, and it includes regenerative technology with disc rotors at each corner (ventilated up front).
While the Lexus Cross Tourer is sporty, it stops just shy of being a sports car, but with fuel economy numbers of 43 mpg city and 40 mpg highway none of that really matters.
The CT 200h offers the full complement of modern amenities and safety technology, and our F Sport tester arrived with a few tech upgrades including dynamic auto-leveling headlamps and LED foglamps, navigation system with backup camera and Lexus Enform app suite, premium audio system, and intuitive park assist.
Base pricing for the Lexus CT 200h is $32,050 with this F Sport tester arriving with a final sticker of $41,540. Maximum horsepower from the gasoline engine is 98 and 105 lb. ft. of torque with total Hybrid Synergy Drive power output of 134hp, and the instant torque delivered by the electric motors will make you feel like you are driving a vehicle with a much more powerful engine under the hood.
The great thing about driving the Lexus CT 200h hybrid is that the car does not constantly remind you that you are driving a hybrid. It offers a sporty driving experience with decent acceleration and a tight, responsive chassis all wrapped in dynamic good looks.