Lexus killing off CT 200h, its most-affordable hybrid

Gas-electric hatchback didn't change enough with the times.

Josh Miller/CNET

Lexus' most affordable hybrid is being put out to pasture. The CT 200h hatchback has never been a particularly strong seller, but it's stubbornly stuck around since 2011. That's according to Car and Driver, which notes that the model will continue to be sold in other markets after it leaves the US at the end of the 2017 model year.

Based on the previous-generation Prius, the Lexus CT was something of a novelty when it was first introduced -- there weren't many sporty-looking premium-brand hatchbacks on the market. As time wore on, the CT did receive a midcycle facelift in 2013, but it still suffered from dated cabin and safety technology. Eventually, its EPA fuel economy figures (43 miles per gallon city/40 highway) became far outclassed by newer hybrids, including the latest-version Prius, which nets up to 58 mpg.

And that's just inside the Toyota-family tent -- entry-level luxury rivals like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may not have offered hybrid power, but in an era of perpetually cheap gas, they offered trump cards including broader model lineups, more power, deeper options lists and superior infotainment.

It likely also didn't help the CT's sales case that today's new-car market is increasingly tilting toward sport utility vehicles and away from traditional passenger cars. Some competition may have even come from inside the company's showrooms. Since the first CT launched, Lexus has augmented its hybrid crossover SUV lineup with the NX300h, which now inherits the mantle as Lexus' least-expensive hybrid. A smaller, less-expensive sibling, expected to be called UX, is due soon.

Toyota's luxury brand shifted fewer than 9,000 CT hatchbacks in the US last year, and all-in, Lexus has only managed to sell about 90,000 of the cars since 2011.

Lexus reps did not immediately return a request for comment.

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