While its 42-mpg combined gas mileage rating puts it among the most fuel efficient of cars, the 2013 Lexus CT 200h faces new competition it didn't have when it was launched two years ago.
The new Ford C-Max Hybrid hatchback, for instance, gets a combined EPA rating of 47 mpg. In its highest-end trims, the C-Max can be considered a viable competitor for the less roomy CT 200h hatchback--even if the Lexus brand carries a more upmarket image than the mass-market Ford. And if gas mileage is your sole goal, the high-end model of the Toyota Prius liftback still gets 50 mpg combined.
Of course, real-world mileage varies widely (and wildly) based on conditions--as with most hybrids, and indeed any car. If you really flog the CT, you might see mileage creep down toward the 20s. Most people should achieve averages close to the EPA's 42 mpg city, 41 mpg highway ratings. Over several real-world drives, we've seen results in the upper 30s--and, with careful driving, as high as the mid 40s.
Just like the Prius, the CT 200h features an exhaust-gas recovery system that helps lower emissions and improve fuel economy. It also assists in cutting the length of time that the gasoline engine runs on short-trip use.