By on May 30, 2017

2017 Lexus CT200h - Image: LexusThe current 2017 model year will be the last for the Lexus CT200h.

An indirect successor to the Lexus HS250h sedan, the Lexus CT200h will end a seven-year model run in the United States that resulted in more than 90,000 sales.

Imported from Miyawaka, Japan, the Lexus CT has seen its average U.S. monthly output fall 58 percent over the last three years. Never a tremendously popular entry-level luxury car, the hybrid-only Lexus was forced to compete against very successful luxury sedans from Mercedes-Benz and Audi — CLA and A3, respectively — in the latter portion of its tenure.

The Lexus couldn’t compete.

It couldn’t compete with luxury rivals.

It couldn’t compete with high-efficiency hybrids.

It couldn’t compete as an older passenger car design in a market that’s increasingly fond of new crossover designs.

U.S. sales of the Lexus CT200h peaked at the end of its first year. In December 2011, 2,259 copies of the CT200h found U.S. owners. Only on four other occasions did the CT ever manage more than 2,000 monthly sales. Over the last 18 months, Lexus averaged fewer than 800 monthly CT200h sales.

With admittedly much broader lineups, including all-wheel-drive variants, Audi averages nearly 2,500 A3 sales per month in the United States while Mercedes-Benz’s CLA-Class now averages just under 2,000 sales per month. The CT200h is priced from $32,245. The A3’s base MSRP is slightly lower; the CLA’s slightly higher.

Advances in Toyota’s own hybrids also mean the CT200h doesn’t appear as efficient now as it did when it debuted in 2011. Upon its introduction, the CT200h’s 43/40 mpg city/highway ratings compared somewhat favorably with the Toyota Prius’s 49/46 EPA figures.

But the CT200h is still a 43/40 car in an era of 58/53-mpg Prii. While not a direct Prius rival, the Prius’s advances mean the Lexus no longer has the numbers to stand out, particularly since consumers generally consider fuel to be sufficiently inexpensive.

Furthermore, tastes have changed. The CT200h is by no means the only Lexus struggling. Through the first one-third of 2017, passenger car sales at Lexus (excluding the now discontinued CT200h) are down 33 percent, a loss of nearly 13,000 sales, year-over-year, over the span of just four months.

66 percent of Lexus’ U.S. volume is now generated by SUVs/crossovers. Cars produced slightly more than half of all Lexus sales the year the CT200h debuted. As a result, the Lexus CT200h will, in a sense, eventually be replaced by a utility vehicle below the NX, Car And Driver reports.

Thus, a hybrid hatchback dies.

Shocking.

[Image:Lexus]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net and a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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39 Comments on “The Lexus CT200h Is Dead, Though It Was Way More Popular Than the HS250h You Forgot Existed...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Try a drop top hybrid next time, Akio.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’ve seen two HS250h cars on the road in my life. I didn’t even know they existed until about 6 months ago, and then I saw two. Crazyness! I’ve seen a few more CT200h cars, but not many. I think I see more C-Maxes and Jukes.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    They were also expensive, cramped, slow, and in exchange offered good fuel economy in a market with historically cheap gas. What could go wrong?

  • avatar
    motoridersd

    My mother in law got one about a year ago and she loves it. It’s the little niche hatchback that didn’t have a chance in this market.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Though these may have been regarded as dorky I always liked them for that retro-Japanese look they had, particularly at the rear, before the facelift. With a 2.0T they may have been more convincing to potential buyers. I’d wager most people didn’t know these were hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Agreed. Heck, they would have done better even if they put the base four cylinder from the IS in the CT200h and offered a manual transmission – or at least a conventional automatic. This seemed like a no-brainer to me in the past few years when it was clear the hybrid wasn’t selling. But getting conservative Toyota to change gears isn’t easy. Better to wait until sales die completely and then replace it with yet another mind-numbing CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        What base 4-cylinder? The only 4-cylinder in IS ever was the 2.0 turbo that Mr. Ramrod already mentioned. But that was a very new addition – IIRC just for 2017. Before, the IS came with straight-six and V-6 engines. I have one with a 2.5L v6.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve Biro

          My bad. I meant the 200-ish horsepower base V6 that was in the IS for number of years. I must be working too hard. The CT200h with that engine would have been a decent vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            That engine might have been a bit much. But even the 2.5-liter in the Toyota products (specifically the sporty one used in the Scion tC) would’ve been cool.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So is the CT200H the answer to: “Which Lexus has the largest depreciation?”

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      As someone who is cheap, likes hatches, buys used, but is getting old and wants something quiet and nice, these have recently popped up on my radar. Not uncommon in my locale, and I walk past a few handsome ones regularly, particularly a metallic red one with nice tan leather interior (hate black) and predates the weird spindle front end refresh.

      • 0 avatar
        stodge

        I didn’t find it quiet when I test drove it. It was crashy over bumps and very noisy and buzzy on the highway. Oh and it’s cramped and uncomfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        These are not quite at all. The reason they didnt sell is due to the fact that they were barely a step up fit and finish wise over a Prius at that time.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    Wow, I hardly ever see these but those are pretty dismal sales numbers. The Niro just came out but it’s having a much better launch than this had.

    I know it’s hard to compare when the model makeup is different, but I wonder if luxury buyers are more or less likely to go the hybrid route. Tim, do you have that data for Lexus vs Toyota?

  • avatar

    Both were dorky looking. Certainly did not look upscale at all.

  • avatar
    ant

    We went and test drove one of these back in 2012 when we were in the market for a new car.

    The thing was pretty nifty and we liked it, however I didn’t like how little cargo space it had. It was a small car to begin with, and the batteries took up too much space back in the hatch area. A Honda fit is like a minivan comparatively despite it being a smaller car.

  • avatar
    devonair

    I’m surprised how many of the previous commenters hadn’t seen one on the road (or saw very few). I see these everywhere in Southern California — but then again, I see TONS of Mazdas around me despite their total sales always being reported as low (mostly CX-5’s, Mazda3’s, and Miatas).
    Unlike some of the other commenters, I’ve always kind of liked the look and have considered cross-shopping it a couple of times (my personal style preference leans towards 5-door hatches) — but then I look at the specs and read reviews of how incredibly slow and underpowered it is. I agree with @Car Ramrod: if it had had more power it may have sold better; hell, I would have seriously considered one.

    • 0 avatar

      I live in LA and see them all the time.
      Back when I was looking for a new car,I looked at them and talked w/several owners. They all loved them. I must say,most were female drivers.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    You know it’s bad when the Corolla iM is a better choice…

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I thought this was a sharp looking hatchback in need of the more powerful 2.5L Hybrid drive. Apparently it handled well. So, it was a quick-looking, capable handling, premium-priced, luxury-badged 11-second to 60 car. That’s an odd mismatch.

    I never drove one, did the powertrain sound as strained and cheap as the Prius, or did Lexus slather on some additional refinement?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I actually really like the looks of the CT, if only it had the larger Camry/ES300h hybrid system in it rather than the 1.8L Prius unit. HS250 is definitely dorky looking with its tall and narrow profile. Looks like something you’d see in SE Asia or the streets of Japan. The Prius V looks like the most handsome and clean Toyota styled car (Hybrid or otherwise) that they currently sell.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Compared to my A3 it felt cramped inside, was more expensive and less fun to drive. Hate to lose another luxury hatch, but so it goes.

  • avatar
    Roger

    Agree: the Prius powertrain installed in a heavier car is not ideal, especially as fuel economy is not as important now.

    Could this mean the Prius V is also going to be dropped? I have a ’12 and although it has its shortcomings power-wise, it’s a roomy high-roof wagon with great carrying capacity and of course great fuel economy. The really laid back windshield gives it a racy look, very eye-catching for a wagon.

    I was hoping it would be redesigned so I could buy the next version. Dropping this Lex looks like a precursor. I would like to know so I can move on!!

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I had no idea this was a poor seller, in Massachusetts I see these all over the place, including several in my apartment complex.

  • avatar

    Ride was harsh, it wasn’t Lexus-quiet, and the CVT just droned endlessly as you accelerated to merge…

    But, it looked sharp, handled well, and had nice liftback versatility. With the warranties, a solid used-car buy for a college student or urban commuter. You could eek out mid-40s if you didn’t drive like an a**hole and you didn’t look like a senior citizen from The Villages like you would in a Prius. You got to get the NAV unit, though, otherwise be stuck with a storage compartment and the dopey 1990s Toyota stereo display. I never had a problem with the Lexus mouse thing.

    I’d certainly drive this over a disingenuous CLA…

    • 0 avatar
      Menar Fromarz

      As they say; Ask the man that owns one. Our family has had our ’13 for a number of years, and its a shame its being dropped, as we would look for another one in several years. Never understood the hate, yes its not a hot rod, but it has all the premium features a Prius doesn’t have at a somewhat reasonable price. We average over 50MPG and my only issue is rearward viz as its a ’13 and predates the spindle look and rear camera. By the time I option out a Prius version I may not still have the car I want, as its virtually impossible here to get a non taxi spec iteration as all seem to have no leather, no sunroof etc without it being spendy. Oh well…

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The thing was glacially slow. Like, seriously, this might’ve been the slowest new car I’ve ever test-driven. A Jetta 2.0 automatic was faster.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    This article is timely for me – I just traded in my HS250h for a new Lexus last week. I didn’t consider the CT as it’s lacking in cargo space for a hatchback, underpowered (weaker than my HS which was already a bit underpowered), and feels narrow inside. I ended up with an ES300h which is way more refined and quieter than the HS or CT, and not significantly more expensive.

    I put nearly 150K on the HS250h, and while its exterior styling was certainly unusual, it was reliable and comfortable, albeit noisy (engine drone). They’re fairly rare around here, but I still see a few each week on the road (Maryland).

  • avatar
    05lgt

    What does this car offer that isn’t better in a Volt? (known Lexus fanboi and confirmed GM hater here.)


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