2016 Lexus CT Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Lexus CT Hybrid was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 6.8

Critics are disappointed by the Lexus CT Hybrid's weak engine and poor acceleration. Some also note that the CVT is slow to respond. They're impressed, however, with the Lexus CT’s poised handling and sharp steering and say models with the F Sport package offer engaging driving dynamics. The 2016 Lexus CT Hybrid earns some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class.

  • "While the 2016 Lexus CT 200h is fun in its own way, it's no match for cars like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 or even... ... the Cadillac ELR. All three are quicker and handle better." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • The 2014 Lexus CT 200h is a distinctive choice for a premium-brand hybrid car thanks to its high fuel economy and moderately sporty handling. But it's also one of the slowest cars in its class." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "The CT 200h looks a lot faster than it is; I wouldn't call acceleration the car's strong suit. Other editors pointed to sluggish off-the-line speed, an uncivilized continuously variable automatic transmission and unresponsive throttle." -- Cars.com (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Lexus CT Hybrid has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, which together make 134 horsepower. The CT 200h comes with a continuously variable transmission, which works like an automatic. The EPA estimates that the CT Hybrid, which is the only hybrid car in the class, earns 43/40 mpg city/highway.

Although critics are impressed with the CT Hybrid’s fuel economy, they point out that the Lexus CT 200h has poor acceleration. A few reviewers also note that the CT Hybrid's limited power is quite noticeable during highway passing maneuvers or when ascending inclines. Some also caution that the CVT is slow to respond when more power is needed.

  • Fuel economy is the name of the game for this hybrid. … However, you pay for it when you want to get moving, as the 10-second 0-60-mph acceleration performance that can be justified as ‘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." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Driving the 2014 Lexus CT 200h requires you to manage your expectations. The hatchback's hybrid powertrain is tuned to eke out every last mpg, and the result is very sluggish performance for a car in this price range." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "Under the hood, the CT 200h doesn't have the oomph that many luxury shoppers expect. Unless you find the Prius to be a thrill ride, you'll likely be underwhelmed by the 134-hp CT's ponderous acceleration. The CVT isn't particularly responsive, either." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • Power is plenty adequate in most situations, but can leave you wanting when passing or climbing hills." -- Motor Trend (2011)

Handling and Braking

According to auto writers, the CT 200h has controlled handling and accurate steering. Some report that the F Sport package sharpens the CT Hybrid's handling and steering, but at the cost of a firmer ride. Critics also wish the CT Hybrid's brakes felt more consistent. The 2016 Lexus CT Hybrid comes with front-wheel drive and the ability to switch between four driving modes: Normal, Eco, EV and Sport. A few test drivers note that in Sport mode the CT 200h has a rapid throttle response.

  • "Though the CT 200h shares a basic platform with Toyota Corolla and Scion tC, it features more dynamic handling than its plebian siblings thanks to a number of revised suspension components, including a unique lateral performance damper system aimed at reducing body vibrations and providing for a linear steering feel." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • It's still more fun than you'd expect on a twisty back road, too. Engage Sport mode and the CT 200h will surprise you with sharp steering and quick throttle response. The F-Sport package adds stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, albeit at the expense of the traditionally soft Lexus ride. When you're just cruising, the CT 200h offers a quiet and comfortable around-town experience that's a pleasant departure from the usual hybrid experience, even if it isn't quite as library-silent as other Lexus cars." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "[T]he Lexus CT 200h handles respectably for a hybrid car, and its steering is impressively precise (with a weightier effort level in Sport mode). The ride quality is decent enough with the standard suspension, but the firmer suspension tuning that comes with the F Sport option package can make the ride too harsh, depending on your local road conditions." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "Brake feel is inconsistent, too, which we would attribute to the attempt at making a hybrid's regenerative anchors act more like a sports car." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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