2016 Lexus CT 200h review with video

2014 Lexus CT 200hThe Basics:

Base price: $31,650 + taxes
As tested: $37,850 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 5.7 L/100 kms
City fuel economy: 5.5 L/100 kms
Competition: Audi A3, Mercedes CLA

The review:

If you’ve been hunting for a sporty, stylish, yet efficient hybrid vehicle, Lexus is hoping it can lure you into the cockpit of its CT 200h. Its sleek, sculpted lines have been turning heads since this car was first introduced to their line-up in 2011. Just some small cosmetic changes are on offer for 2016 but a complete overhaul is expected for 2017, from chassis on up.

But as of right now, the CT is based on the same platform as the Toyota RAV4 and Corolla. And the 1.8-litre hybrid engine is what you’d find in the Prius. So, you may be starting to see that this car has somewhat of an identity crisis. It looks sporty and fast, yet its chassis is from my grandma’s Corolla and the engine is from a car that has not been noted for its amazing get-up-and-go. With well-tuned suspension and sporty stance, the CT’s hybrid performance doesn’t really match up. To flip the metaphor around, it’s like a sheep in wolf’s clothing. But, in my opinion, it’s not as much of a dog as some reviews have been letting on. The fact is, if you want a really high performance sport wagon, you wouldn’t look to a hybrid anyway.

2014 Lexus CT 200hSo, we’ve established that the outside looks great, complete with the Lexus signature spindle grill. Step into the interior and it’s adorned with high-end materials that make it feel much more luxurious than its cheaper hatchback competitors. It’s also a very comfortable cockpit with excellent driver position, even for a tall guy like myself. But much of the tech feels dated, the centre console is cluttered and it seems to be missing many of the features I would’ve hoped for from a Lexus badge. For example, a back-up camera is not standard, neither are LED headlamps or navigation. An auto lift tailgate isn’t even an option and there are no cup holders in the backseat.

2014 Lexus CT 200hRear passengers, by the way, will feel scrunched in this car, especially if taller people are sitting up front. But we were able to make a rear facing car seat work in our standardized tests without sacrificing the comfort of the front passengers too, too much. Our trunk test was also a success, as we were able to fit the standard amount of gear with a bit of room to spare. That’s largely because of the more boxy rear end of this car that doesn’t sacrifice cargo capacity for a more sloped, sleek look. Volvo has opted to keep their wagons boxier too and it does a lot of good for capacity. That’s why we bought one!

In terms of safety, the 2015 CT performed very well, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety giving it a Top Safety Pick + rating. That shouldn’t change for 2016 but one thing to note is that all wheel drive is not an option regardless of the package you choose.

So if you’re a driver who wants a high end look but isn’t too fussed about performance or room in the back seat, this could be the car for you. But at $37,850 for our decked-out tester, it just seemed to fall short for the Lexus name. Personally, I’d consider holding off to see what the total redesign in 2017 could have on offer. Perhaps it will make the CT a better rounded package.

The takeaway:

Family Wheels pros: great exterior style, high end interior materials, excellent fuel economy, good trunk space for its size
Family Wheels cons: driving performance doesn’t match up with sport look, lack of leg room in the second row, cluttered centre console, a lack of standard (or even available) features makes it seem out of place with a Lexus badge
Family Wheels target: second car for one (maybe two) child families
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 3/5
Family Wheels driveability score: 3/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 2.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 19/30

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