Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2017 Lexus CT 200h: The Brand’s Entry Level Hatchback Hybrid

Highlight: This is the only hatchback hybrid in the luxury segment.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $39,450 (base model $32,225)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: air bags; Daytime Running lights; electronic controlled braking; a traction control system and a vehicle stability control system; and Lexus’ safety collision notification system

Standard Equipment: 17-inch wheels; a power front driver’s seat; a leather trimmed steering wheel; pseudo leather seats; an automatic dual a/c system; a push button ignition starter; and a manually operated tilt-telescopic steering wheel

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: automatic dimming exterior mirrors with tilt feature; a memory controlled setting for driver’s seat; leather seats; rain sensing intermittent wipers; a navigation system; a rear back up camera; HD radio; Apps; a remote touch nav interface; and a power moon roof

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD
CD with satellite

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder/98-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: With the exception of a few content adjustments and an optional pre-collision braking system, which includes a radar activated cruise control system, the hatchback hybrid is a carryover for the 2017 model year.

Why:  For those yearning to go green, but with a hatchback that wears the Lexus badge, the CT 200h is the vehicle of choice. The brand’s sporty looking hybrid hatchback is available as one model. To heighten the flair of this hatchback, the brand’s signature F-trim, which offers a slightly modified grille and a stiffer suspension, can be a great add-on.   

Furthermore, for music lovers seeking more than the standard audio system, a 10-speaker audio system is available as an upgrade. This system includes a SiRi Eye mode that allows the occupants to call contacts, get turn-by-turn voice navigation and more.

And with this being a fuel-efficient luxury hybrid, drivers can expect a combined fuel economy of 42 miles per gallon. Moreover, to make sure the vehicle is somewhat engaging, Lexus engineers made sure the vehicle is available in four driving modes: normal, economy, EV (electric vehicle) and sport.

But: Why did Lexus make some cost adjustment on this model? In 2016, a 10-way power front driver’s seat and a 4-way power front passenger seat were standard. In 2017, an 8-way power driver’s seat and a manually adjusted front passenger seat are standard. Go figure?

Also don’t expect a Lexus smooth ride in this entry-level hatchback. Occupants will experience every bump and groove in the road. Moreover, why does this vehicle lack a rear center armrest? It’s a Lexus; we just expect more.

And with this vehicle aging, Lexus may find itself competing with non-premium hatchbacks from some of the mainstream brands that are almost as fuel efficient, with their gasoline and diesel engines, as it relates to highway driving, while also offering a more balanced ride, premium features and a lower price point.

Lastly, the vehicle lacks an electronic blindspot lane changing system. Surprisingly, this safety feature isn’t on the model’s option list.

Verdict: The last dedicated entry-level hybrid that Lexus offered, the HS 250h, was a flop. It resembled a premium priced Toyota Corolla. Both Lexus dealers and the brand itself would like for all of us to forget that vehicle. However, the sporty CT 200h is the only luxury brand offering a hybrid in a sporty hatchback configuration.

So, for those yearning to go green and to look cool while doing it, this is the way to go. Moreover, none of the upcoming mainstream hatchbacks planning to hit the market can offer the service experience that has been embedded into the Lexus DNA.

Competition: None

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