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STYLING | 7 out of 10
the CT 200h's proportions appear slightly off at first glance
unapologetically wagonlike shape
less bland than its Prius progenitor
LED daytime running lights are reminiscent of a certain unnamed German manufacturer
Road & Track
The overall design of the dash is unconventional and brings to mind the cockpit of a jet airliner, but it looks as though Lexus has simply dropped in parts wherever they fit with little thought to aesthetics.
Freshened to match the rest of the range this year, the 2014 Lexus CT 200h gets new front styling with the latest "spindle" shaped grille to replace a rather plain opening from earlier model years.
The bulk of the 2014 upgrades, in fact, have to do with design, both exterior and interior, plus newly added features. In addition to the grille, both front and rear plastic bumper covers and fascias have been redesigned, and the 17-inch alloy wheels get a new design as well. The trailing edge of the roof now sports a "sharkfin" radio aerial, and the license-light bulbs are now LEDs (will anyone notice?).
The updates have been applied to the same low, slab-sided hatchback with thick roof pillars that's been on sale since the 2011 model year. Overall, the CT's shape blends Lexus's flowing L-finesse design language—including smoothly curved lines and gently arced back pillars—with a pert, almost aggressive hatchback shape.
The rear window has an unusual wraparound appearance, extending into the rear pillars, and a long spoiler extends from the roof over the short tailgate. The thin, tapered taillights give it a taut look, and altogether, the shape has worn well--even if it doesn't appear as sporty today as it did when it was launched.
Inside, the digital screens in the dashboard display have been updated, there's a new steering wheel, and several minor details have changed. Two examples: the scuff plates are now metal, not plastic, along with several new color treatments for trim and upholstery. Stylish two-tone interior trim combinations are more adventurous than in any other Lexus model, set off by ash burl, bamboo, or black wood trim, or silver metal trim.
Unusual color options-- sparkly Daybreak Yellow Mica and Matador Red Mica tones, or light, glossy Starfire Pearl and Tungsten Pearl shades--join the usual silver, charcoal, and black found on every luxury model.
The few small updates for 2014 don't change the basic interior, which is upscale and conveys almost a mechanical influence--a world away from the hard plastics and Space Age dash displays in hybrids from Toyota itself. The low-set dashboard is marked by horizontal creases, with a thick center console jutting upward. Most of the minor controls are in the console, with displays in the upper zone.
The 2014 Lexus CT 200h is no longer a surprising shape; it's attractive, if chunky, and luxurious inside.