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2011 Lexus CT 200h: New Hybrid Consideration For Small Family Car

As hybrids go, the all-new five-passenger 2011 Lexus CT 200h has a lot to like – especially the 42 mpg (combined) fuel economy and better-than-expected handling. It’s certainly no sports car, but it does acquit itself quite well in Sport mode (more about that later). With the entry of the all-new 2011 Lexus CT 200h, Lexus now has five hybrids in its lineup. But what can a family expect from this latest addition to the luxury hybrid field? Let’s take a look.

Models, pricing and equipment

Available in 200h and 200h Premium, starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $29,120 and $30,900. Destination charge is an additional $875. The 2011 Lexus CT 200h is also the least expensive model in the entire Lexus lineup.

Befitting a Lexus, there’s a ton that’s standard in the base model. In fact, the only difference between base and Premium is power moonroof and heated front seats in the latter. Standard equipment include keyless entry and push button start/stop, dual-zone climate control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat (including lumbar), six-speaker premium sound system with automatic sound leveler and in-dash CD player, NuLuxe seating material (a premium vinyl that’s lighter than leather by half), XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, auxiliary audio/USB jacks, heated side mirrors, and 17-inch wheels.

Premium has three packages available, including premium audio (10-speaker premium sound system), leather (perforated leather seats), and navigation. Also available as standalone options on Premium are auto-dimming inside mirror with compass and backup camera, LED low-beam headlamps with auto-leveling and headlamp washers, and pre-collision system and dynamic radar cruise control.

Performance and handling

The 2011 Lexus CT 200h shares its powertrain with the Toyota Prius: a 1.8-liter in-line four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and high-output, permanent magnet electric driver motor with EV mode. Total system output is 134 horsepower. Power gets to the wheels via electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT).

The drive mode selector has four levels: normal, Sport, Eco, and EV. There’s also a power monitor gauge that changes to tachometer when Sport mode is selected. When in Sport mode, steering is tightened, battery power increases, and the traction and stability systems become less intrusive. The result is a ride that’s quicker and more responsive to driver inputs.

Regenerative braking, another staple of today’s hybrids, is improved in the Lexus CT hybrid. The automaker says the regenerative system on the CT Hybrid is lighter, smaller, and uses 29 percent less power than the previous Lexus regenerative braking system.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 43 mpg city/40 mpg highway/42 mpg combined. While that's not Prius territory, it's still one of the most fuel-efficient on the market. Comparing the Lexus CT 200h to competitive makes/models like the Audi A3 2.0T and 2.0T clean-diesel, and BMW 128i, the Lexus CT Hybrid comes out the winner with 42 mpg combined fuel economy (versus 24, 34, and 22, respectively for the Audi and BMW models). Regarding emissions, Lexus says that the CT Hybrid produces 59 percent fewer smog-free emissions than the Audi TDI.

The front-wheel drive Lexus CT 200h has a unique design that pairs and independent MacPherson front system with a fully-independent double-wishbone rear system for improved handling and ride comfort.

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