Historically, hybrids have been known for having certain strengths; fuel economy is one of them but engaging handling most certainly is not. These days, though, there are models on the market that are more ambitious, promising great mileage sweetened with a sportier driving experience. One such model is the 2011 Lexus CT 200h, which holds the distinction of being Lexus' fifth hybrid and the least expensive vehicle in its lineup.
The CT 200h hatchback is related to the Lexus HS 250h and shares its powertrain with the Toyota Prius. The main distinction here is that the CT 200h is designed specifically for better handling than either of those models, with a low stance and special suspension components. The CT also has adjustable drive modes, and once you get it in
As you'd imagine, having a powertrain in common with Toyota's famously thrifty green machine means good things for the CT's performance at the gas pump. Though this Lexus isn't quite as efficient as the Prius (you can blame its heavier curb weight and more resistant tires for that), its combined mileage of 42 mpg is plenty impressive and makes it the most frugal choice in its clique of competitors. The downside is leisurely acceleration; in our testing, the CT posted a 0-60 time of 10.4 seconds, 0.3 seconds slower than the already pokey Prius.
This combination of high fuel economy but slow acceleration means the CT is an unusual choice in the premium compact segment. The only model that comes close to matching the CT's fuel economy is the diesel-powered 2011 Audi A3. Beyond that, you'll likely be looking at regular gas-powered cars like the superior-handling 2011 BMW 1 Series or the stylish 2011 Volvo C30. Despite this formidable competition, we think the 2011 Lexus CT 200h is a respectable choice. It's affordably priced, practical and will no doubt be a draw for shoppers prioritizing fuel efficiency.