The 2014 Lexus CT200h is, as we discussed earlier, no mere Prius in fancy drag. Nor is it, like some Lexus hybrids, the quixotically high-po version of a non-hybrid model. So how does it fare where fuel economy is concerned?
In three words: Not bad, yo.
The hybrid system works just like any other Toyota or Lexus hybrid does, with a battery conserving “B-Mode” located in the shift pattern for those who want to save up their electric juice for congested downtown driving at the expense of fuel economy at higher speeds. As for me, I always kicked it into “D,” as I suspect most CT200h drivers will.
When you’re in “D,” and when the car’s nerve center detects a good time to do so, the powertrain switches over to EV Mode and gets its motive power strictly from the battery pack. Like every Toyota and Lexus hybrid I’ve tested, the car also kicked into EV Mode at most traffic lights and stop signs, and would reward any attempt to stay in EV Mode with glacial acceleration upon pulling away. Get into the throttle deep enough, and the engine would kick in to help move things along. Thusly called upon, the eCVT worked as intended, keeping the 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine in the sweet spot for power-vs-fuel economy.
In the Lexus CT200h’s distant Prius cousins, I have alternately found the powertrain setup pleasing and ponderous. But regardless of how I felt about it, it has always delivered on its fuel economy promises. Even when I hooned the Toyota Prius C a bit, it beat EPA estimates by week’s end. Similarly, the 2014 Lexus CT200h stood up well to a week of average use. I took one lunch break romp back to my house down a deserted county road with the Drive Mode Select knob flicked to its “Sport” setting — an experience I found surprisingly more enjoyable than any other hybrid I’ve driven — and didn’t note any horrible effect to fuel economy. I think the CT200h’s fuel economy estimate on the Lexus Enform screen might have dipped 0.2 MPG as a result of the heavy-footed round trip.
Once I returned to my regular driving in Drive Mode Select’s “Eco Mode,” including using the car for a grocery run at the weekend, fuel economy began ticking up again. By week’s end, it settled at 43.5 MPG, handily beating the Lexus CT200h’s EPA estimates of 43 city, 40 highway, 42 combined MPG.
Is that level of efficiency worth the Lexus CT200h’s entry MSRP of $32,500? When combined with the level of luxury and refinement found in the overall driving experience, you’d better believe it.
Disclosure: Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.