Lexus CT 200h

Best Stylish Hybrid Hatch

UNDER THE HOOD

Engine: 1.8-liter 4-cylinder (gas) + 60 kW (electric)
Horsepower: 134
Torque: 105 lb-ft
0-60: 9.8 seconds
Transmission: Electric CVT
Fuel Economy: 43/40
Weight: 3,130 lbs
Drive: FWD

I’m having a bit of fun in a compact Japanese hybrid. Next, you just might find me singing at a karaoke bar and drinking an appletini. What am I, in hell? No; I’m tooling around suburban Chicago in the Lexus CT 200h F Sport, and from what I can tell, the buttons on my shirt are still on the right side. Most of the time, you’d have to point a gun to my head to get me to buy a compact hybrid, but this one just seems different — and by different, I mean a few notches up from a mild case of somnambulism.

But that modicum of fun doesn’t come from anything resembling automotive potency. In fact, the green, near-luxury hatchback hasn’t changed all that much since its introduction in 2011. “Power” still comes from the Prius’s 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine, coupled with a 60-kilowatt electric motor. If you know anything about the Prius, you know that the term “acceleration” is as applicable as the term “racy”. Sixty mph arrives in around ten seconds, which gives you time to contemplate whether merging with fast highway traffic was a less wise choice than taking the side streets. Even the steering is still as numb as a trip to the dentist to get a cavity filled. But the CT 200h F Sport does do something to attract.

For the style-conscious urban male, there seem to be precious few options for compact cars that stir the visual senses while still delivering solid mileage numbers and allowing for ample gear stowage. The CT 200h does all of these things remarkably well. As you start out your day, the view of your miserly hybrid doesn’t cause a full body cringe. The seating position and the sporty exterior are not betrayed by an unusable interior. In fact, there’s enough space for luggage, golf clubs, mixer boards or a crap-load of organic meats from your local butcher. The big storage area when the seats are folded flat is impressive, and access via hatchback is ideal for the on-the-go set. The exterior — much improved thanks to a mesh spindle grille, low profile tires and bigger rims — helps give the CT 200h more hatchback handsomeness than ever before.

The Lexus becomes truly great to drive when you’re milling around the city landscape, toting your gear or your friends from point A to point B and everywhere in between.

Of course, you’ll deal with its tepid freeway chops a few minutes after the on-ramp. But then you’ll realize something: the car becomes truly great to drive when you’re milling around the city landscape, toting your gear or your friends or just your large hemp extract from point A to point B and everywhere in between. At lower speeds, it’s easy to live with and not damaging to your manly reputation (at least away from traffic-light drag races). It caters to folks who are all about city practicality. If your choices were a loaded Prius (which sounds a lot like a deluxe chicken sandwich) or a base CT 200h, you’d be better off with the Lexus, since it adds a dose of style that’s missing from other fuel-sippers. With a real-world combined mileage of around 40 mpg, it’s not going to win the fuel economy trophy hands down, but it also won’t kick you in the teeth when it comes to fuel expenditures.

In the modern urban driving experience, where your existence happens largely within a radius of less than 20 miles, the CT 200h F Sport is a worthy choice due to its practicality and style. It makes plenty of sense for the man who wants a car that looks the part and fulfills his need for daily practicality and comfort. That he would have to sacrifice any pulse-quickening driving experiences might mean precious little, as long as he gets that blue encircled “L” badge on the grille.

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