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LEXUS HYBRIDS IN 3D
The first dimension: CT 200h

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Jan 16, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Lexus CT 200h

By Zoran Segina The aggressive stance, short wheelbase, forward rake, and low front fascia with LED auto-leveling headlights—all convey the image of a hot sports hatchback. The CT is practically inviting the driver to step over the lighted door sills, get into the black sporty seats, adjust the thick tilt and telescoping steering wheel, turn the control knob to Sport Mode, glance at the suddenly appearing tachometer on a red glowing dashboard, and spin the 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires. And then, once the CT200h is underway—the feeling is lost. The car, which shares Toyota’s MC basic architecture with the Toyota Corolla and the Scion tC is painfully slow, no matter the Sport setting. Pushing the gas pedal only causes the tortured-sounding engine to whine. The ride is firm, and the car handles well, but the purpose of the sporty suspension is lost. The seats can be heated, but while the driver’s side offers electronic controls, the passenger has only two manual levers to make herself comfortable.

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After a weekend drive on Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu and back, the Tall Girl summarized the CT succinctly: “This car gives an illusion of a sports car because it shakes people at low speeds.” This was followed by a sarcastic: “Do you feel younger now, dear?” The CT electronics add an extra dollop of frustration. Not only are the instruments maddeningly complicated, but they seem to have life of their own. The red glowing tachometer disappears once the driver engages the cruise control, although the car should still be in the Sport Mode. The satellite radio display is replaced at random by a map. Or something else. The dashboard gauge cycles between various displays. Not only do these systems appear complicated, but they leave the driver feeling dumb and overpowered by a technology he either does not understand, or cannot control. The computer cursor on the navigation screen, controlled by mouse-nub joystick on the center console, is distracting to the point of creating a driving hazard. The electronic window switches are positioned too far forward, so natural extension of the left hand actually lowers rear windows. The electric sunroof requires you to push on two buttons to close. It took this driver three days to figure out how to program the favorite satellite radio stations because the list was either too well hidden or non-existent. An attempt to program the radio by voice control never progressed beyond level two.

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The CT’s Daybreak Yellow Mica paint elicited uniformly negative comments. From “a color only a mother could love” to comparison with various bodily effluents. The sculpted doors scrape every curb. And the door padding exposes large sections of bare metal, in a very unLexus-like fashion. And yet the CT’s design and technology carry a lot of appeal. Jorge and Rogelio, two professional limo drivers, find the interior exceptional. The local mechanics swarm over the car, enjoining the sculpted lines. These professionals are impressed by the hybrid technology. In their minds, Lexus can only make a good car. Even the Tall Girl, after having complained about the lack of proper seat adjustment, finds the Sunday drive to Malibu on PCH pleasant and comfortable, the above comments notwithstanding. The car handles well, allowing aggressive and spirited driving within the engine’s thank-you-note-size envelope of performance.

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The fuel consumption hovered around 38 miles per gallon for us (of course, your mileage may vary—the EPA rates the CT 200h at 43 mpg city/40 mpg highway). Ten dollars worth of gas adds a 100 mile range to an almost empty tank, and crawling through freeway traffic on electric power alone leaves one with a superior sense of accomplishment. So here is my pledge: I solemnly promise to lower my heating in winter, turn off all the un-needed lights at home, drive the CT in Eco mode almost always, and reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible, if Lexus agrees to cram an additional fifty ponies beneath the hood (let’s make it sixty-six for an even two hundred), and re-programs the computer, so that when I feel like it - only from time to time and not too often - see the pledge above - I can turn on the Sport button, and enjoy the CT to the fullest.

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And can we keep the tachometer and the red-glowing dash all the time? In the Sport Mode, I mean.

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To view "The Second Dimension: HS 250h", click here To view the introduction to “Lexus Hybrids in 3D”, click here SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Lexus CT 200h Price: $29,120 (base) $35,694 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 43 mpg city/40 mpg highway Engine(s): Four-cylinder, 1798 cc Atkinson Cycle 16-valve, double overhead camshaft, variable valve timing with intelligence gasoline engine Permanent magnet, synchronous 60 kW electric motor

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Batteries: Nickel-metal hydride 201.6V, 160 cells, 6.5Ah, 36 hp (27 kW) Horsepower: 98 hp (73kW) at 5200 rpm (gasoline) 80 hp (60kW) from 0 rpm (electric) Combined: 134 hp (100kW) Torque: 105 pound-feet at 4000 rpm Transmission: Electronically controlled continuously variable transmission with manual/electronic shifting EV, ECO and SPORT ‘on-demand’ drive modes Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Steering: Electric power rack and pinion Suspension: MacPherson strut front system with a fully-independent, double wishbone rear suspension. Newly calibrated coil springs, shock absorbers, bump stops, upper supports, upper and lower insulators, a lightweight steering knuckle, and a new anti-sway bar for increased rigidity. Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy, with 225/45 R17 H all season tires front and rear, with tire pressure monitoring system. Brakes and ancillary systems: Four-wheel power assisted front and rear disc, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) and Electronic Throttle Control System (ETCS) Dimensions Length: 170.1 inches Width: 69.5 inches Height: 56.7 inches Curb weight: 3130 pounds Performance 0-60 mph: 9.8 seconds Top Speed: 113 mph

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