Lexus has long been the envy of the luxury segment, but has recently grown quite green. The Lexus CT 200h is changing what we think we know about luxury rides.
As I peeped this street-rod inspired hybrid outside my door, nothing about it screamed or whispered eco-friendly.
Looks can be deceiving, so I opened the door and inspected it front to back. Nothing stood out other than the joystick that apparently shifts gears adjacent to the steering wheel and an Atari paddle contraption in the gearshift’s normal place.
The CT is designed to be at least 85% recyclable using a variety of ecological and bio-sourced materials. Its seats are NuLuxe, which look and feel like leather but weighs half as much. The manufacturing process is less harmful to the ozone. The sound system’s speakers are constructed of bamboo and its amplifier consumes 50 percent less power and weighs 26 percent less than a conventional amplifier.
I proceeded to load the new Maimouna Youssef CD, The Blooming , into the deck. The Blooming” CD pack is made of certified and environmentally safe board stock with vegetable-based ink and poly-wrapped discs. I figured a conscious vehicle, like the CT claims to be, deserves like-minded music.
Youssef is a local artist featured in music from Nas to The Roots and from the first song, she goes in with hard driving hip-hop. Her track “The Blooming” is as low to the ground and as bumpy a ride as the CT is on rough D.C. streets. The CT handles the roads like a sports car when comfort would be better and Youssef handles her rap tale well though sweet soul would serve better.
I found my sweet spot in the CT, cruising the Tidal Basin watching the leaves turned burnt orange by the chill of fall. I felt the brisk breeze from the open sunroof. Youssef heated me up with a sultry front seat warmer “I Got A Man” by Jazzy Jeff. Now my engine was running and I remembered I got a woman. With the press of a button, I activated the Bluetooth feature to interrupt the song to make the call.
Normally conserving energy and gas in ECO mode is enough, but now I engaged the Sport mode to get to my girl a little quicker. The spicy salsa-flavored “O Encontro No Brasil (Meet Me in Brazil) was a musical treat to pass the time. Now I needed turn-by-turn directions and grabbed the Atari paddle activating Enform, which is Lexus’ answer to General Motors’ OnStar.
The 24/7 service team always has your back and is only a call away. Not having to fumble through the navigation prompts saved time and the assist from D.C. to MD, was magic like Johnson. Enform is a nice addition to the long list of Lexus conveniences.
Still, the CT doesn’t take opulence too seriously and is a hybrid in the truest sense. Lexus has a line of hybrid vehicles that focus on luxury sensibilities. The CT is the most cost effective and has the highest fuel efficiency of any luxury vehicle in the market.
Loving the drive, I forgot I was in a hybrid. There was no green thumb signifier or lack of anything except trips to the gas pump. Still, I made a difference without losing any cool points or foregoing any luxuries of other drivers.
Just as I lost track of the greenness in the car, I did the same with The Blooming. The messages of self-love, eating healthy, refusing societal lies were all under the hood of Motown soul, Roots Rock Reggae and the other musical influences. The crisp green sound system enhanced the experience of the feel good groves driving community messages to the soul.
The Lexus CT and The Blooming are products built for mainstream consumption but at the core unabashedly push the limits to better their environment and community.
As I pulled up in my girl’s driveway, I realized going green is all good.
Let’s Get SOCIAL
How GREEN are you?
How do you better the environment and your community?
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2011 Lexus CT200h Premium
Price Tag: $30,900 base ($36,225 tested)
Power: 1.8L in-line 4 cylinder Engine 134 horsepower
Transmission: Electronically-Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 43-city/40-hwy
Mike Tucker is a D.C. native and journalist of fine automobiles for over 10 years. He is a single dad of three who believes in unique sneakers, great tunes, delicious food and GOD. You can follow him at @1cooldad.