The 60/40-split seatbacks fold forward in one fluid motion, providing a flat cargo floor that's a little higher than in comparable gas-only hatchbacks, but low enough to still feel roomy for moving a large travel chest or coffee table, for instance. A retractable cargo cover provides privacy in back, and there's plenty of space behind the backseat for a shopping cart's worth of groceries.
It's mostly familiar Lexus material in the 2011 CT 200h, and it mostly impresses; unfortunately, there are a few little details that scream out parts-bin—like the old-style LCD display on the base sound system, which doesn't match the font or display used for climate control; and the chrome shift lever, which seemed to be magnet for smudges. Some of the plastics used atop the center console, and just around the Eco-Norm-Sport dial that you see all the time, are just a little cheap-looking and hollow-feeling, too. And the more we use Remote Touch—a computer-mouse-like controller that requires you to keep your eyes on the screen for the entire time you're making a selection—the more we wish for either a touch screen, touchpad, or a controller that has tactile feedback.
Lexus has done a great job incorporating lots of small cubbies—including a shallow tray, along with a deeper but smaller one that's great for setting smart phones on end. Just a couple of inches away are a USB input and power plug, located under a small door (unfortunately, you can't hide a device inside the center console, but it's convenient). Perhaps, a hint that the CT wasn't originally planned for the North American market, there are no cupholders for backseat passengers. Front seats, however, have two cupholders in the center console plus indentations in the doors good for cans. None of them are Big Gulp size but we don't imagine that will disappoint the Lexus crowd too much.
The rest of the interior feels a step up from lower-priced hatchbacks; a padded material with exposed stitching covers the instrument panel as well as the side of the center console, and the driver's knee—or at least for most adult-sized drivers—rests beside the center console, rather than on it as in the HS, and it feels easier to find a natural driving position. Thankfully, the beltline isn't too high, so even shorter drivers will have a good view out ahead over the hood, as well as to the side; what's more, we found rearward vision to be surprisingly good, despite those thick rear pillars—in part, because you're down at traffic level.
Largely due to its more fashionable roofline and wider rubber, the CT doesn't quite hit Prius levels of aerodynamic efficiency (it's Cd is 0.29, versus the Prius's 0.25), but we didn't notice any wind noise; Lexus has included extensive lower-body aero shielding. Versus the Prius, the CT also has added noise and vibration insulation for the engine, and compared with what Lexus considers chief rivals (the Volvo C30, BMW 1-Series and Audi A3 are included), the CT is quieter both inside and out at full throttle, the automaker says.