The Small and High-Tech 2012 Lexus CT200h

Recently, a family friend of mine bought a Lexus CT200h, with the F-Sport package and gave me a ride in it.  It is a very nice car, although it may seem basic.  I will tell you my impressions about the technology and the ride.

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This car is a great tech experience.  You have the Remote Touch navigation system, which is great because the mouse-like controller has haptic feedback built-in, similar to the Wii remote, so when you navigate onscreen buttons, you feel them through the controller.  Trust me, you’ll get the real feel for it only when you try it on your own.  Great technology, although not quite the best that you can find in other Lexus models.  For example, the Remote Touch navigation system is a generation behind other Lexus head units because the 2012 CT200h lacks Enform app integration.  What Enform is in other Lexus cars is a master app you can download onto your smartphone, to power a basket of apps on the car’s head unit.  Starting from the 2013 model year, the CT does include Enform.

The audio system can be had as a premium sound system, which on its own, sounds very good.  Unlike other Lexus cars, you cannot get the excellent Mark Levinson audio system.  There’s AM, FM, and XM radio, but there’s no HD Radio in the 2012 model, as you’d get on the newer Lexus systems.  USB and aux are standard, and scrolling a library of songs from an iPhone 4S was not too much of a problem, though I’ve seen faster systems out there.  You cannot get a wide selection of driver assistance technologies found on other Lexus models.  This would include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, head up display and night vision.  You’re not completely left out though because you have SmartAccess with push button start.  This allows you to lock and unlock the doors and start the engine, without taking the keys out your pocket.  It is very handy.

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The ride in the Lexus CT200h is very smooth, quiet, and linear.  The auto start-stop system worked perfectly, shutting down and starting the engine very smoothly.  Steering was very precise.  The ride was surprisingly responsive, even though the car has only 134 horsepower.  Mileage is rated at 43 city/40 hwy/42 average.  I’m not sure if the car would behave differently on highways, as I didn’t get a chance to go there on the short drive.  Turning the car from normal mode to sport mode showed a noticeable difference in acceleration response, as well as a large jump in RPM, with more growl from the engine.  Small thing, but I like the racing-inspired pedals, which are casted in aluminum with rubberized grip surfaces.  The F-Sport package really does a nice job of tuning the suspension and handling well and certainly results in a much sportier ride.

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In the end the Lexus CT200h is a very solid car.  I certainly like the technology and the drive in it.  For anybody looking for a compact, sporty hybrid that also gets good fuel economy, this is certainly one to look into.  The practicality of the hatchback body style also makes this a good car for errands or hauling small things, or maybe as a grocery getter.  Pricing seems reasonable, starting at 31K, going to around 40K or so.

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