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2011 Lexus CT 200h Compact Hybrid Hatch: First Drive Review Page 3

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There was no hatch release button on the keyfob, for instance. The parking brake was a pendant-style foot pedal, reminiscent of a Seventies Dodge Aspen.

And given its level of electronics, we were startled to find the trip odometer had to be summoned not by navigating through menus but by pushing a plastic stalk sticking out from the instrument cluster.

Mixed grades for visibility

The 2011 Lexus CT 200h is rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for its occupant protection in crash tests and its standard safety features.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the 2011 Lexus CT 200h for crash safety.

2011 Lexus CT 200h compact hybrid hatchback, road test, June 2011

2011 Lexus CT 200h compact hybrid hatchback, road test, June 2011

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The CT comes with eight airbags as standard. But its outward visibility, an area in which more and more modern cars are deficient, gets mixed grades.

With the rear-seat headrests up, rear vision was lousy. But to its credit, Lexus provides fold-down headrests in the rear, so we were able to see out the full width of the slot-like rear window.

The large blind spots in the rear quarters remained, but at least the rear-view mirror didn’t seem like it was limited to a keyhole. The backup camera—part of that pricey navigation package—proved useful for fitting the CT into tight parking spaces, one of the benefits of a compact hatchback.

Overall

We enjoyed our time with the 2011 Lexus CT 200h. It handles well, was comfortable to drive, included a slew of luxury features, and returned a consistent 40 mpg no matter how or where we drove.

We hope the CT succeeds in establishing a beachhead for Lexus in this new segment of one. Right now, it's the sole compact luxury hybrid hatchback on the market. Nothing matches it for its mix of luxury features and high gas mileage.

We'll be curious to see if the lure of gas mileage mixed with luxury brings new buyers to Lexus--and, perhaps even more so, into the compact hatchback market.

Lexus provided this test vehicle to High Gear Media to enable us to bring you this first-person drive report.

+++++++++++

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