Handling, Braking & Ride Quality

If the CT stumbles in acceleration, it shines in handling. The steering wheel turns with a light touch at low speeds in Eco and Normal mode, but it wanders too much on the highway. Sport mode dials back the assist, improving feedback and highway stability a great deal. It also relaxes the threshold of the CT's standard stability system, which intervenes smoothly when it must. (Alas, there's no way to deactivate the stability system.) Drive the CT hard, and the nose pushes mildly, but the tail follows soon after Ч a dynamic that belies the car's nose-heavy 60/40 (front/rear) weight distribution. Nicely done, Lexus.

Like its competitors, the CT rides firmly. We detected no flex, and the car stays planted on broken pavement, but the suspension doesn't isolate very well. Major bumps produce loud ka-thunks, and too often the car surrenders to the plane of the road Ч up, down, up, down. Driving enthusiasts won't mind, but the typical Lexus buyer will find the experience too much like an econocar.

Like all hybrids, the CT employs regenerative brakes that help recharge the battery. Lexus says it tuned the brakes for better refinement than the Prius. Indeed, the CT's pedal feels more linear than the Toyota's, but our test car's pedal had a lot of hydraulic noise in the first inch or so of travel. A Toyota spokesman said the brakes should work noise-free, so that might have been an anomaly with our car. See for yourself on your test drive, and click the link at the bottom of the page to send me an assessment.

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    Compass
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