CT 200h in the Market

Lexus says CT 200h buyers cross-shop the Audi, BMW and Volvo competition and the budget-luxury field is set to swell. Expect Mercedes and Infiniti to throw their hats in the ring, too.

But are the cars that swell? Most are what you'd expect: A half-step down from the brands' usual fare, but appealing on their own strengths. So it goes with the CT 200h, which combines Lexus touches with a Toyota driving experience. The wild card is styling, where conservative Lexus took a radical leap. It paid off. The car looks sharp, which should draw as many car shoppers as its gas mileage. It may not live up to every tenet of the Lexus badge, but the CT's prospects seem as bright as our test car's nuclear-gold paint job.

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