The CT200h is based on the MC platform, which also underpins the Lexus HS250h hybrid, the Scion tC, and the Toyota Corolla. Like the HS, this car has a trailing-arm multilink rear suspension—instead of the torsion beam used by the Corolla—to better package the nickel-metal hydride battery pack and allow a lower load floor. Struts are used upfront. Lexus uses so-called performance dampers—braces that have a damper within them—between the front strut towers and spanning the trailing edges of the body to stiffen the structure and reduce vibration.
Safety in Number (of Airbags)
The car’s interior is nicely appointed, although we don’t care for the standard NuLuxe faux-leather upholstery. And—as is the norm in this size class—rear-seat space is tight for six-footers. But the controls are cleanly laid out, and amenities such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio, and pushbutton start are standard. There are eight standard airbags, including knee bags for the driver and front passenger.
Radar cruise control with a pre-collision system is among the options, along with a power sunroof, LED headlights, heated front seats, and a backup camera that sends images to a monitor in the rearview mirror. There are four options packages: a premium audio system bundled with the sunroof and a garage-door opener; the same grouping plus the backup camera or a navigation system; and a leather-seating package that incorporates driver-seat memory and rain-sensing wipers.
Low Expectations Fulfilled
Like the Prius, the CT200h has an electric-only operating mode, EV, but it is pure gimmick. EV operation is theoretically possible for up to one mile at speeds up to 28 mph, but anything more than the lightest pedal pressure refires the gas engine. In the real world, the CT200h offers three driving modes: Eco has a very lazy throttle map, normal is slightly less lethargic, and sport is, well, still sluggish. The steering effort is higher in sport mode, which is good, because it’s light and inert in the other settings. We think the CT has a nicely balanced chassis, although it is difficult to tell because the stability control kills the fun before any mirth has a chance to materialize, and there’s little power with which to modulate the car’s cornering attitude.