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New Lexus hybrid is compact, affordable

The CT200h is Lexus' latest hybrid model.

February 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The 2011 CT200h is the newest model from luxury brand Lexus. It's the smallest, the least expensive and it's a hybrid.

It is the latest in the growing line of hybrids from Lexus and the starting price is just under $30,000.

The car has a touch of sportiness too. Deep bucket seats, a thick steering wheel and 17-inch wheels are standard.

You can also set the drive control to a setting called "sport," which firms up the steering and makes the engine respond more crisply. And to show that you're in sport mode, a tachometer fades in to replace the energy gauge.

There's a practical side to the CT too: a hatchback body. Even though the CT is the smallest car Lexus makes--at 170 inches long-- it's still really comfortable. There are nice, plush bucket seats in the front, and room for two in the back.

There's a lot of room, especially if you fold the back seats down. You can load this new baby Lexus up to haul lots of cargo.

You can also find your favorite stretch of twisty road and do the other kind of hauling. The chassis is really composed, and zipping through curves is a cinch.

Getting from curve to curve? Well, that's a little more of an effort for the small, four-cylinder engine and electric motor.

If you're interested in its fuel-saving side, flip the dial into eco and the little hatch makes the most of each gallon of gas.

EV mode is the ultimate fuel saver. You glide along on battery power alone for short distances and at low speeds.

The payoff is exceptional fuel economy. The CT200h is rated at 43 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway for a combined figure of 42--and that's on regular gas, not premium.

Lexus' newest offering is lots of cars rolled into one: part sporty, part high-mileage, part versatile hatchback and part luxury car.