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2012 Lexus CT 200h Premium – Hybrid Luxury In a Sport Wagon

2012 Lexus CT 200h (Aaron)

This Lexus wagon is already an entry-level luxury winner, but adding Lexus Hybrid Drive to achieve 42mpg combined? A whole new ideal of plush genius is born. A beautiful car, a posh ride, and excellent efficiency, all in one package.

The manufacturer says

Eats asphalt. Sips fuel. With a combined 42 MPG fuel economy rating, the highest of any luxury vehicle, the CT is as efficient as it is exhilarating.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Toyota
  • Year, Model: 2012 9900G CT 200h Premium
  • Class, Type: Luxury wagon
  • Propulsion system: Gasoline-electric
  • Fuel(s): Gasoline
  • Base Price: $29,120
  • MSRP as tested: $39,940
  • Availability: Now, nationally.

Overview

The most striking thing about the new Lexus CT 200h Premium is it's beautiful styling. Most of the time, "station wagon" and "style" don't tend to be uttered in the same breath. This new Lexus is the exception to that. The car is downright beautiful with only one minor flaw: it has a somewhat boxy rear end. Lexus' designers did something that is rarely achieved by making a "sport wagon" actually look sporty – hiding the fact that it's drag coefficient is a remarkable 0.29.

Inside, the CT 200h is very well appointed. It feels like a luxury car from the moment you sit down. In the premium upfit we tested, it was extremely comfortable. Leg, head, and shoulder room are great, even for someone of large stature. The leather trim, high performance audio system, and 10-way adjustable driver's seat are top-line inclusions here.

The 1.8-liter in-line 4-cylinder DOHC engine with variable valve timing (VVT-intelligent) is coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is electronically controlled. This runs with the Lexus Hybrid Drive system to put out a total of 134 horsepower while holding a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV II) rating. At 43mpg city and 40mpg highway, the EPA gives the CT 200h Premium a 42mpg combined rating – the highest in this segment.

The ride is very smooth and comfortable at city speeds, but on the highway, a definite "over-cushiness" can be felt as the car smooths out and removes most of your feel for the road. On the track, the electric-assist power steering and rack are excellent strengths whose notoriety is destroyed by the car's extremely thick-feeling suspension.

In Eco Mode, the Lexus CT 200h does well in the city, accelerating well enough for most drivers not to notice the dampening impact of the fuel savings on performance, but when getting up to speed on the highway, Eco is definitely felt, holding you back.

What we like

Great styling with crossover-like appeal in a modern station wagon. A lot of versatility goes into the station wagon design and Lexus hit it perfectly here.

Excellent economy beyond the average in this segment. The CT 200h has higher efficiency than any other vehicle in the luxury market and is better than most in this size/class of non-luxury as well.

What we don't

A lot of body roll when cornering. The ultra-plush ride feels more like grandma's car than a sport wagon.

Sluggish acceleration even when not in Eco Mode. A 0-60mph time of 9.8 seconds is alright for this market segment, but the CT somehow makes it feel slower than that.

Conclusions

One of the best cars in this segment that we've tried, hybrid or no. While it doesn't have the handling or speed of a higher-end German vehicle, it does have great style and much higher efficiency than any other entry into the luxury market. With the versatility of a wagon, it's a sure winner for families looking to ride in comfort and style.

Test Period Length and Limitations
This car was driven at a multiple-vehicle ride and drive event that included both on-road time (rural highway, freeway, some city driving) and track time (pictured). Total time in vehicle was about an hour.

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