December 8th, 2014
Winter has arrived, and I’m getting my first exposure to driving the CT 200h in the snow & ice.
The cold weather has given me real appreciation for the product planners at Lexus Canada, who have outfitted the CT F SPORT package with heated front seats and side mirrors. I’ve driven Lexus press cars in the cold before, but it’s not the same as having these features in my daily driver.
(I’m also happy there’s no heated steering wheel — unlike the wood in other Lexus models, the leather never really gets cold enough to justify the option.)
It’s not all great — the rear window is perpetually dirty, a problem the CT shares with all other hatchbacks and the bane of my existence on rural roads. The heated windshield wipers are also a disappointment, to the point where I wonder if the option is even installed.
(The next step is winter tires — so far unnecessary, but the next thing on my list before we get into the real thick of the snow.)
November 2, 2014
Before purchasing the CT 200h, I went through the process of choosing between the hybrid hatchback and a base-model IS 250 sedan.
Why these two models? Price was the controlling factor — I had a definite budget and the base-model IS 250 with all-wheel drive was at the very top end.
Here are the key reasons for choosing the CT:
- I really liked the idea of owning a hybrid F SPORT, and the CT is the only model in the lineup with both options. If the IS 300h had been available in Canada, it would have been my first choice.
- The 2.5-liter engine in the IS 250 paired with the AWD system is a sluggish combination, and it’s made worse by lackluster fuel economy. The CT may have even worse performance, but makes up for it with the 42 mpg fuel economy.
- Options also figured in — for the same approximate price as the base-model IS 250 AWD, I was able to get the CT 200h F SPORT package with heated seats, LED headlights, and a real leather interior.
All of these points pale in comparison to the biggest reason for choosing the CT — after years with the 1994 LS 400 and a 1999 Mercedes C230, the new Lexus would be my family’s only car. Simply put, my wife prefers hatchbacks over pretty much every other vehicle, save for the out-of-our-price-range RX.
Even if I had a list of reasons for preferring the IS, we likely still would have ended up with the CT — such is a life of marriage. Luckily, it’s what we both wanted, and so far it’s been a perfect fit.
October 5, 2014
After three months of ownership, I’ve made my first modification to the CT 200h:
It might be a little difficult to see from this photo, let’s highlight the mod in red:
That’s right, I made an adjustment to the cupholder, using a strip of foam to reduce the rattling of my water bottle. Living dangerously, I know.
(I do have some other plans, but will be holding off until after the Canadian winter.)
September 2, 2014
This summer, in partnership with OpenRoad Lexus in Richmond, BC, my wife Karissa and I drove across North America in our brand new Lexus CT 200h.
The timing was interesting — we had originally planned to take a relaxing drive through Canada and the USA, but some unexpected events occurred and we need to be back in Ontario sooner than later.
Here’s how it happened, by the numbers: 6 days, 4,736 kms (2,943 miles), an average speed of 90km/hr (56mph), and $270 in gas.
Wait, what? $270 to drive cross-country? How is that even possible?
Day 1: Landing in Vancouver
Karissa and I landed at the Vancouver International Airport the day before picking up the CT, mostly to get our bearings and avoid compressing too much into one day.
My growing familiarity with the area meant a very specific goal for our single night in Vancouver: eat at Japadog, a local food cart that offers bizarro Japanese-inspired hotdogs. I had the Tonkatsu deep fried pork cutlet, and Karissa had the signature Terimayo hotdog:
Wrapping up the night with a quick stop for a Swiss Army knife (hate travelling without one), we headed back to the hotel and prepared ourselves for the days ahead.
Day 2: Picking up the CT, Driving to Golden
Excitement was high the next morning when OpenRoad assistant sales manager Amy Li picked us up for the quick drive over to the dealership.
It worth pointing a few things about OpenRoad — the entire experience was exceptional, from the initial partnership discussions right through to signing the final papers. I have huge respect for the entire dealership team, and have to personally thank Amy Li, general manager Jeremy Schaab, and business manager Sarena Yung for their expert assistance.
Over the years, I’ve photographed plenty of vehicles in the delivery area, but this was the first time with my very own car. As you would expect, the CT F SPORT was absolutely spotless:
The CT had 18km (11 miles) on the odometer and a full tank of gas when we left the dealership, and admittedly, leaving Vancouver on our way into the Canadian Rockies was a blur.
Seven hours later, we pulled into the Glacier Mountaineer Lodge in Kicking Horse and finished our first day on the road.
Gas: One stop, $30.
July 11th: Golden to Calgary, Calgary to Swift Current
There’s nothing quite like waking up in a mountain lodge, especially during the off-season — Karissa and I sat on our balcony to enjoy the view, feeling like the only people in the entire world:
With the CT all packed up, we headed onto the Trans-Canada Highway for the most beautiful driving portion of our trip — the highway curves through a number of Canadian National Parks, and there’s really no way to describe the majesty of the mountains. No photo could ever do it justice.
Reaching Calgary, we made our way to Lexus of Royal Oak for the CT’s 1,200km inspection. The service team moved with real efficiency — by the time Karissa and I finished our lunch with dealer principal Todd Richardson, we were back on the road in almost no time at all.
The rest of the day stayed uneventful, save for a stop at the world’s largest teepee:
We drove as far as we could, ending up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, for a late dinner and even later drinks.
Gas: Two stops, $55.
July 12th: Swift Current to Bloomington
With 14 hours and 880 miles between Swift Current & Bloomington, Minnestoa, this would be our major driving day, and we started it off by travelling for 25 minutes before turning around and returning to Swift Current to fill up the gas tank.
(The thought of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no gas or cell reception was too much for Karissa to handle.)
After the false start, we piled on the miles, driving for hours with only Tim Hortons and the Welcome to Nightvale podcast for company. The cliches about Canadian prairies proved true, there’s really nothing but crops and cows:
Moving through Saskatchewan toward the USA border, we stumbled on a Canadian landmark that likely has no meaning to Americans — the set of the TV show Corner Gas:
Eventually, we hit North Dakota, where the flat land turned to rolling hills and incredibly fast highway speeds — before we knew it, twelve hours had passed and we entered Minnesota on our way to Bloomington.
It was during this leg of the trip that I realized how much I hate sitting in the passenger seat. The entire day, Karissa had only driven two hours — even up to the last moment when we pulled into the Westin, I couldn’t give up the steering wheel.
Gas: Four stops, $101.78.
July 13th: Bloomington to Chicago
Despite the extended drive the day previous, we were up early — driving is mentally exhausting, but we both had a lot of energy to burn. Our first stop was Super Target, where Karissa did some shopping and I did my best to clean the bug guts from the CT grille:
(My technique was simple enough — a full bottle of quick detailer, fifteen microfibers, and a patience that I only have when cleaning a car.)
Once the front-end was cleaned up, I discovered the only battle scar from our epic drive:
After a quick run through the Mall of America, we were back on the road and heading for Chicago. The drive from Minnesota to Illinois was the one big lull in our trip, with everything blending together until we reached the outskirts of the Windy City.
Without exaggeration, I have never experienced anything like the highways of Chicago. The amount of pay tolls is absurd — we had to pay over $15 in the span of two hours. Total shakedown.
With our breakneck speed travel catching up to us, Karissa & I ended the night with some stuffed pizza at Giordanno’s:
Gas: Two stops, $42.55
July 14th: Chicago to Home
If the day previous had been the slow point of the trip, our final day on the road was a sprint to the finish — leaving Chicago, I ramped up our speed and we burned through Michigan and crossed over into Ontario for the final stretch.
Once you hit familiar territory, a trip no longer feels like a journey — the last hours on Highway 401 dragged along, with Karissa & I both happy and sad that our travels were coming to a close.
Gas: Two stops, $40.85
There’s no better way to get to know a car than an extended road trip, and driving cross-country created a very strong bond with our new CT F SPORT.
Choosing the CT over an IS was a logical move on my part, and one I’ll discuss in more detail shortly, but this TK hybrid hatchback impressed me more than any AWD IS 250. What started off as a calculated decision has turned into something else entirely — I can’t wait to spend the next three years driving this car.
Gas Total: Eleven stops, $270.18.
This CT 200h F SPORT was made possible by the folks at OpenRoad Lexus Richmond, the premier Lexus dealership in British Columbia and a proud sponsor of Lexus Enthusiast.
July 16, 2014
Time for a major announcement — after seven years of driving a 1994 Lexus LS 400, I took delivery of a 2014 CT 200h F SPORT last week at OpenRoad Lexus Richmond in British Columbia.
While I have plenty of experience driving Lexus vehicles, this will be my first time being a new owner. The CT is a perfect fit for my family, and my top choice as the only hybrid F SPORT model available in North America.
Unfortunately, this also means the end of my LS. Three months ago, the power steering pump leaked all over the alternator and left me with a difficult choice — go forward with the expensive repair, or start looking for an alternative.
This was right around the time of my Western Canada dealership tour, and during a stop at OpenRoad Lexus, I talked with general manager Jeremy Schaab about the situation.
Push things forward to last week, when my wife Karissa and I flew into British Columbia and rolled out of the dealership in our new Ultra White CT F SPORT:
With the new vehicle, I will be launching a dedicated blog for the CT 200h and my ownership experience — coming up next week, the story of my cross-country adventure driving home from British Columbia to Ontario.
This CT 200h F SPORT was made possible by the folks at OpenRoad Lexus Richmond, the premier Lexus dealership in British Columbia and a proud sponsor of Lexus Enthusiast. My special thanks to Jeremy Schaab, Amy Li, and Sarena Yung for their expert assistance in making this happen.