Review of the car

When Lexus introduced the CT 200h seven years ago, it touted it as a hybrid sports car. Unfortunately, it didn't have enough power to back up that claim, and power hasn't been increased since. On the other hand, the CT 200h does offer sportier handling than a typical hybrid car, but that's not a very high bar to clear.

However, where the 2017 Lexus CT 200h excels is in its excellent real-world fuel economy, smooth ride and pleasant interior. As a hatchback, it also gets high marks for versatility, although trunk capacity isn't as large as expected.

When it comes to luxury cars offering such great fuel economy, there aren't many options outside of the CT 200h. While the Chevrolet Volt is not considered a luxury car, its interior can exceed expectations and it has all the latest technological innovations. The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is a closer option, and while it costs a bit more, its plug-in hybrid powertrain can even the odds.

Standard safety features on the 2017 Lexus CT 200h include locking disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints (as well as front seatbacks that can help reduce whiplash injuries), front and rear seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, and dual front knee airbags. The Lexus Safety Connect telematics system is also standard and includes features such as automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location and emergency assistance. A rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are available as options.

The optional adaptive cruise control includes a pre-collision feature that uses radar sensors to detect an impending collision and responds by tightening the front seat belts and activating brake assist. In braking tests, CT 200h F Sport came to a stop from a distance of 125 feet from a speed of 60 mph. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IHS) gave the CT 200h F Sport a 1.5 percent rating.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CT 200h a top rating of "good" in the low-impact frontal crash, moderate-impact frontal crash, side impact and roof strength tests. The head restraint and seat design was also rated "good" for protection against spinal injury in a rear-end collision.

What the experts say

Are you put off by the bland or off-putting appearance of conventional hybrid cars? The 2017 Lexus CT 200h may be the sporty alternative you're looking for. It offers excellent fuel economy and nice luxury touches.

Driving
Despite its sporty styling, don't expect much power. The previous-generation Prius' hybrid system accelerates slowly, and the engine makes a raucous, slow sound when you press the pedal.

However, the CT 200h corners with more agility than typical hybrids, as its quick steering offers quick response. Ride quality on rough pavement is good, but the stiffer suspension offered with the optional F Sport package can be harsh and stressful.

As a conventional hybrid, the CT 200h should live up to expectations as a good car for city commuting. The transition between electric and gasoline engines is smooth, as is the automatic start system, which shuts off the engine when the car comes to a complete stop.

Interior
Paying more attention to environmental friendliness than traditional luxury, the 2017 CT 200h lacks the luxury expected of a premium brand. You'll find recycled and eco-friendly materials, replacing typical leather and wood trim where appropriate. That said, the interior is more refined than a typical hybrid.

The main controls are clear and logically laid out for ease of use, but the Remote Touch control for the Display Audio system and optional navigation system is one of the more confusing interfaces. The operator operates a small, flat joystick to move the cursor on the center screen, but in a moving car, this setup proves problematic. A haptic feedback feature simulates tearing through certain areas of the screen to help locate virtual buttons, but the whole system remains clunky and difficult to use.

The front seats offer a nice combination of plush comfort and sporty lateral support, while the rear seats offer enough head and legroom for two adults. The rear doors are quite narrow, but access is still much better than in a typical two-door coupe.

Storage for cell phones and other personal items is limited to a small storage compartment, cup holders and door pockets. Luggage space isn't much better, with only 14.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 34.8 cubic feet when the seats are folded. Other hatchbacks of similar size offer much more space.

2017 Lexus CT 200h Models

The 2017 Lexus CT200h is a four-door, five-seat hybrid hatchback. It is available in one trim level with standard equipment including 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals and fins, keyless access and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery (premium vinyl), eight-way power driver's seat (with power lumbar), split-folding rear seatbacks, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, audio connectivity with phone and Bluetooth, and an audio system with six speakers, CD player, satellite radio and USB/auxiliary device input.

Most options are part of packages that vary depending on the region you live in. The Navigation package includes a rearview camera, 7-inch screen and Remote Touch interface, navigation, voice command, Siri Eyes Free smartphone connectivity, HD radio and app-based Lexus Enform infotainment system, premium audio system with 10 speakers, and Remote and Safety Connect emergency telematic systems. The Luxury package includes auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a power front passenger seat, driver's memory and a universal garage door opener.

The F Sport package includes 17-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension, a larger rear spoiler, a number of unique interior and exterior styling changes, a rearview camera, alloy pedals and a black headliner.

There are also a number of distinct options, including a sunroof, LED headlights (low beams), adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera with a display built into the auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The 2017 Lexus CT 200h features a hybrid system consisting of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors/generators powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total power is 134 hp and is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

In testing, the CT 200h accelerated to 100 mph in 10.5 seconds, which is slow by modern standards. Fuel economy is excellent, with the EPA estimating 42 mpg combined (43 city/40 highway). We were able to exceed that estimate in real-world conditions, getting an impressive 47.9 mpg on our estimated highway and 44.1 mpg on our commute.