DRIVEN: Lexus CT 200h—The Newest Hybrid Family Member

2011 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid in New Orleans' French Quarter

2011 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid in New Orleans' French Quarter

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The Lexus CT 200h has been turning a lot of heads around the automotive industry lately as pre-production vehicles start to make the review rounds. recently participated in one of these ride and drive reviews in the once devastated, but now blossoming city of New Orleans. What better place to test out the EV functionality of the newest hybrid member of the Lexus model line up than in the French Quarter or along the scenic by-ways outside of the city. The most interesting part of the Lexus CT 200h isn’t the features it comes with or the likelihood that it will come in under the MSRP of the IS 250 or even the gas mileage (considering it is using a Prius drivetrain). No, the most interesting part of the car is how it drives.

We can tell you a lot about the marketing behind the new Lexus CT200h, as you might already know from our article published earlier. However, what everyone really wants to know is what it is like and for the people in the target 30-40 year old demographic the perspective of this 25 year old might be refreshing. The CT 200h isn’t what you might expect to come out of the Lexus styling department since it is truly a 5-door hatchback. You also might not expect the additional bracing, performance dampers in front and rear (reduces road vibration transference), sport mode with electronically adjusting power steering and vibrant color options. In fact, the Lexus CT 200h looks the part of a Mazdaspeed3 or Volvo C30, but can it keep up in the driving department?

The answer is—it depends. If you are looking to move up to a luxury vehicle with the possibilities of navigation, rear-view camera, heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity AND want all the benefits of driving something almost as green as a Prius then this might be the vehicle for you. If you want to drive a sports car and love the sound and experience of driving a manual or paddle shift car then this might not be the car for you. The CT 200h has great road holding characteristics along with an incredibly smooth transmission and EV to gasoline switching method. That said, the 0-60 time of somewhere near 9.5 seconds won’t nail you back into your seats, but it will allow you to get an EPA estimated combined mileage of 42 mpg. If you are driving on the highway you will see an EPA estimated 40 mpg and for the city only dwellers an EPA estimate of 43 mpg. Of course for the hyper-milers out there you can increase that mileage quite a bit.

Let’s be clear though, the Lexus is no dog out on the road, especially with its four different modes: Normal, ECO, Sport and EV. Sport mode is by far the most enjoyable to drive the car in if you are in a hurry or trying to tackle some particularly winding roads. However, the surprising part of the car is how easy it is to drive in EV mode around the city. During our trip in one of several CT 200h vehicles, we were able to drive from the riverfront over to the French Quarter in New Orleans completely on electric power. Even more impressive is that we were able to get up to speeds nearing 20 mph (about as fast as you can get in Canal street traffic). ECO mode really serves to help you more drive efficiently by requiring the driver to use more throttle input to achieve the same level of acceleration you might get in Normal mode with a lesser throttle input. Sport, as you might have guessed, is the opposite allowing less throttle input and giving you greater acceleration than you would get with the same level of input in Normal mode.

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