2017 Lexus CT Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Lexus CT Hybrid was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 6.7

The 2017 Lexus CT Hybrid doesn’t deliver the driving dynamics or power offered by other cars in the luxury small car class. Reviewers describe its acceleration as anywhere from sluggish to adequate. For everyday driving, the CT Hybrid should do just fine as long as you’re not expecting it to drive like a small sport sedan. Its fuel efficiency is impressive compared with other small luxury cars, but there are other hybrids that get better fuel economy.

  • "As a regular hybrid, the CT 200h should meet expectations as a good around-town commuter." -- Edmunds
  • “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 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

With a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, the CT Hybrid makes 134 horsepower. Acceleration is sluggish, especially when passing or merging onto the highway. Also, the engine drones crudely under hard acceleration, which might come as a surprise to those considering other luxury cars that perform with greater zest and sophistication. However, you’ll enjoy considerable fuel efficiency (43/40 mpg city/highway) that few other luxury cars can match.

The transition between gas and electric power in some hybrids is jarring, but that’s not the case in the CT 200h. The engine uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which behaves like an automatic, and critics claim it is sometimes sluggish to deliver more power when it is needed.

  • "Despite its sporty styling, don't expect much in the way of power. With the same hybrid system from the previous-generation Prius, acceleration is lethargic, and the engine sounds coarse and labored when the pedal is floored." -- Edmunds
  • "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

The CT 200h is sportier than a typical hybrid, which isn’t really a huge accomplishment, since most hybrid car designs prioritize economy, comfort, and practicality over sportiness and excitement. The steering is fairly precise, according to critics. When shopping, keep in mind that the F Sport trim’s tight suspension equates to a firmer, more punishing ride than non-F Sport models, which ride comfortably.

Like most hybrids, the CT Hybrid uses regenerative brakes to capture energy that would otherwise be wasted when braking, and use that energy to charge the hybrid’s battery. Even though Lexus attempts to make the brakes feel sporty, they end up feeling uneven when you hit the pedal.

  • The CT 200h tackles curves with more agility than typical hybrids, however, as its quick steering gives it a responsive feel. Ride quality is good over rough surfaces, but the optional F Sport package's firmer suspension can be jarring and busy." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2016)
  • "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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