Thursday, April 2, 2015

Going Green: Lexus CT 200h

     Are you a person that desires a car that is upscale, and stylish, yet practical to keep up with your lifestyle and kind enough to the environment to let you sleep at night? You very well may have come to the right review then, because that is exactly what the 2015 Lexus CT 200h is meant to do.

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     The compact luxury hatch has been on the market for a few years now, but it still manages to stand out from the crowd, for better or worse. The combination of attractive styling, and upscale amenities is certainly appealing, while the hatchback body style is surely more useful than that of a sedan. But what really sets this car apart from the other luxury hybrids is the EPA rating of 42 mpg combined.


 The CT 200h backs up its rather athletic looks with rather good handling that makes it feel more nimble than just about any other hybrid on the market today. However, the sporty styling of the car is writing checks that the bank just can't cash. With just 134 total horsepower on tap, which is no better than it's cousin the Toyota Prius, it is sorely lacking in the acceleration department. Also something to keep in mind is that while you can indeed fold the rear seats down, you can't really consider the interior cave like by any means.

     Standard equipment includes things like 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors with built-in turn signals and puddle lamps, sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone a/c, leatherette (aka vinyl,) seating surfaces, 8-way power driver seat, split folding rear seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six speaker sound system with a decent USB/iPod interface.

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     Like most other luxury vehicles, there are quite a number of options. However, your ability to select those options will depend upon which region of the country that you live in. The CT 200h's Seat Comfort package includes heated front seats and a 4-way power front passenger seat. The Premium package adds auto windshield wipers, an auto dimming rear-view mirror, and a 10-speaker audio system with a 6-disc cd changer. The Leather package adds leather upholstery, and memory settings for the driver. The Navigation package adds a rear-view camera, voice-controlled navigation, the remote touch interface, HD radio, Lexus' Enform as well as Safety Connect.

     A Display Audio Package includes the 10-speaker audio system, plus a 7-inch display screen, a rear-view camera, an additional USB port, and Remote Touch controller. The F Sport package includes unique 17-inch alloy wheels, a sportier tuned suspension, larger rear spoiler, and a small cornucopia of styling tweaks inside and out.
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     A small choice of stand alone options include things like LED low-beam headlamps, adaptive cruise control with pre-collision alert, front and rear parking sensors, and a back-up camera with the display built into the rear-view mirror.

     Power for the CT 200h comes from a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine paired to a couple of electric motors/generators and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total system output is 134 horsepower, which is routed to the front wheels via CVT.

     In 9th Gear acceleration testing, the CT made it to 60 mph in a slow 10 seconds. Fuel economy is where this car shines, however. The EPA rates the vehicle at 42 MPG combined.

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     Standard safety features on the 2015 Lexus CT 200h include things like antilock disc brakes, stability as well as traction control, front and rear seat mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, and dual front knee airbags. Lexus' Safety Connect is also standard, and includes amenities like collision notification, stolen vehicle location, and emergency assistance. a rear-view camera and front/rear parking sensors are available as options. In brake testing, the CT stopped in a respectable 120 feet from 60 mph.

 What you think about the 2015 Lexus CT 200h from behind the wheel has as much to do with you as it does with the car. If the sportier styling has led you to expect pulse quickening acceleration, than you will be sadly mistaken. If you go in expecting to find a fuel efficient nimble car, with enough power to get you from point a to b, you are sure to find this car pretty livable.

     The reasoning behind this is that the powertrain is tuned more for efficiency, rather than outright performance. The gasoline engine can sound labored when pushed, which to some doesn't seem overly fitting of a car wearing the Lexus badge.

     Otherwise, the powertrain hardware performs rather well, with no real complaints to register. As far as handling goes, the CT feels pretty nimble when you compare it to the other vehicles in the class of luxury hybrid. The ride quality is good, but might become a little jarring when you opt for the F Sport package.

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With the noted short comings in mind, some buyers might want to check out some other options. While it is considerably more expensive, the 2015 BMW 328d wagon is supposedly a much more satisfying vehicle to drive, and still delivers decent fuel economy thanks to the diesel engine. On the cheaper end of the price spectrum, the 2015 Ford C-Max, and 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen TDI are cheaper yet still provide much of the same experience of the Lexus, and they are even quicker to boot.

     All things considered, the 2015 Lexus CT 200h is quite likable enough, but it's only in taking a test drive that you will truly know if you will be able to live with the car.


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