The 2013 Lexus CT 200h, now entering the middle of its life, offers a roomy interior for the only compact car Lexus offers. With only two occupants, the rear seat backs can be folded flat, giving a roomy cargo area for a couple.
The position of the driver's seat is particularly good, with a somewhat low, sporty stance that still offers good headroom and legroom. Engineers and interior designers made sure that the 'H-point' of the front seats—the height of the front passengers' hip joints—is actually below the car's center of mass. Otherwise, the front seats themselves are very comfortable and supportive.
The CT has less interior space than a Toyota Prius, since it's about four inches shorter in wheelbase, and almost six inches shorter overall, The back seats don't offer a lot of legroom, and taller riders will find the headroom tight as well. With the seatbacks up, there's enough room for a large load of groceries, along with a standard retractable cargo cover that helps keep valuables out of sight.
The little hybrid hatchback offers a lot of versatility, too. Its 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 allow enough height to carry small pieces of furniture, for example.
Storage space for odds and ends is good too, with lots of little cubbies inside. A large, shallow cargo tray that neatly fits smartphones is just inches away from a USB input and power plug. One oversight--which hints the CT wasn't originally designed for North America--is the lack of cupholders for rear-seat passengers. Perhaps the Lexus crowd doesn't buy a lot of Big Gulps.
The cabin's rich materials appear to be borrowed from pricier Lexus models, but a few details come close to spoiling the uber-luxe impression. The old-style LCD display on the base sound system doesn't match the font or display used for the climate control. Then there's the chrome shift lever, a magnet for fingerprint smudges. The pendant-style parking brake screams "old Chevy" more than "luxury Lexus," and the center-console plastics seem cheap-looking and hollow-feeling as well.
Some users will like Remote Touch—the computer-mouse-like controller that demands drivers keep their eyes on the center-dash display whenever they're using it--while others will long for a touch screen, touchpad, or a different controller with tactile feedback.
The 2013 CT 200h is pleasantly quiet inside most of the time, with almost no road or wind noise at speed, where it felt quieter than other luxury compacts. It did, however, produce a startling amount of engine noise when accelerating hard, which compromised the quiet impression.