by Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – The 2016 Lexus CT 200h is a great car but it is a tough sell.
This Lexus is a hybrid. It was powered by a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine coupled with a 650 volt electric motor/generator. Combined, the propulsion unit makes 134 horsepower. The gasoline engine made 105 lb. ft. of torque.
It had a second electric motor that acted as a starter and a generator to charge the Nickel Metal Hydride battery. The car had a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Lexus CT 200h had an EPA rating of 43 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and 42 mpg combined.
The CT 200h had a drive mode selector. Normal was an essentially linear throttle response that gave natural progressive power is the way that Lexus put it. That’s where we left the car for pretty much all of our week-long test drive.
However a couple of times we did switch to sport mode. It gave a quicker throttle response time and the steering tightened a bit. With the ECO mode, the air conditioning and throttle response were reduced according to the pedal angle to emphasize fuel economy. And EV mode allowed the CT to be driven short distances using just the electric motors.
The powertrain on our test car was responsive, although the car wasn’t quick. The CVT was a little loud under hard acceleration. But handling was good and the CT was imbued with the legendary quiet ride for which Lexus is known.
Our test vehicle had a MacPherson strut front system with a fully independent double-wishbone rear suspension. A lateral performance damper system was designed to absorb and minimize body vibrations to offer a more linear steering feel and further enhanced ride comfort.
The CT 200h stayed planted on the road, there was very little noise, vibration or harshness and the car responded to driver input quickly. Of course, as all hybrids do, the car had regenerative braking to recharge the battery pack and it was equipped with 17-inch wheels.
This Lexus didn’t look like a Lexus. It was small and cubed. The CT 200h did have the spindle grille that was flanked by headlight clusters on both sides and set higher than the grille itself. The side view mirrors were small with LED turn signals.
The tail lamps had a Lexus L-shape design. The rear bumper and finned rear undercover smoothed airflow and that enhanced stability and bettered fuel economy.
Inside, the dash board was divided into two zones. Lexus called the upper zone the display zone. There was a seven-inch multi-display screen. The lower operation zone was where the shift lever and system controls were housed.
The front seats had pronounced side bolsters that provided additional support. There was lots of metallic finish and there were also plenty of soft touch materials. Ecological plastics with 30 percent plant-based Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials were used for the floor mats, deck side and deck board trim.
The car was equipped with the premium package which included a navigation system, auto-diming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers and four-way power passenger seat and heated front seats. It had LED headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights and headlight washers.
The navigation system came with a rearview camera; there was a premium audio system, remote touch controller, Enform safety, service, remote, destinations and app suite. This 2016 Lexus 200h was equipped with park assist and it had a moonroof.
The options pushed the price from the base of $31,250 to $38,495. Add a $940 freight charge and the total came to $39,435. That was not a bad price for this car. The problem is the competition; not from other luxury brands but from Lexus which makes five other hybrids. But if you want a different kind of Lexus, the 2016 CT 200h might fit the bill.