The Inside

Cabin materials are inconsistent for a Lexus Ч too much faux-metal plastic, a cheaper headliner than usual Ч but the same could be said for most sub-$30,000 luxury cars. For its league, the CT scores a few hits. The stitched upholstery around the instruments and center console evoke a pricier interior, and the optional navigation system's mouse-like knob controller is a cinch to use. The automatic transmission's springy electronic shifter mirrors that of the Prius: left and down into Drive, with a button for Park.

Several editors noted our car's tight headroom Ч at 37.8 inches, it trails the A3, 1 Series and C30. Hemmed in by a high center console and narrow overall cabin, knee and hip room are also tight. The standard eight-way power driver's seat slides far back, but the tilt/telescoping steering wheel has limited range.

Faux leather is standard; our tester's optional heated leather seats felt as rich as in any Lexus. The seats are well-cushioned yet supportive, but larger drivers may find them too narrow. The backseat, meanwhile, is as inhospitable as an econocar's: shoddier finish, no center armrest or reading lights, tiny doors, cramped legroom. The C30 has another 1.3 inches of backseat legroom, and it doesn't even have rear doors.

Cargo room behind the rear seat measures 14.3 cubic feet. With the 60/40-split seats folded, maximum volume totals 32.3 cubic feet. Those figures split the difference between the cargo-deprived C30 and the roomier A3.

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