The Smallest Displacement Four-Cylinder Ever Put In A Luxury Car - SUV VEHICLE

The Smallest Displacement Four-Cylinder Ever Put In A Luxury Car

Luxury cars have long been synonymous with hefty V-8 or V-12 engines, delivering the power necessary to effortlessly drag these heavyweight vehicles along. Traditionally, comfort and spaciousness have taken precedence over speed, resulting in the use of larger engines to accommodate the weight and size of these prestigious automobiles. However, Lexus challenged convention by providing a luxurious vehicle that uses a four-cylinder engine smaller than any others you would see on the market.

Enter the Lexus CT 200h, a groundbreaking example of Lexus’s bold approach to luxury automotive engineering. Rather than succumbing to the allure of larger engines, Lexus’s parent company, Toyota, took the Prius drivetrain, a compact yet potent four-cylinder engine, and installed it in the luxurious Lexus offering.

This stout powerhouse defies expectations, proving that luxury does not always mean the biggest and baddest engine. Despite its modest displacement, no expense was spared in crafting this engine to be one of the best in its class, creating a new era for luxury vehicles moving to smaller engines.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Lexus, and other authoritative sources, including Toyota, IIHS, and RepairPal.

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Lexus Put The Smallest Four-Cylinder In A Luxury Car

At the heart of the Lexus CT 200h lies a technological marvel—arguably the smallest displacement four-cylinder engine ever fitted to a luxury car. Powering this Prius adjacent hatchback is a 1.8-liter VVT-i four-cylinder petrol engine, known as Toyota’s 2ZR-FXE. Despite its small stature, this engine packs a punch, producing 98 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque. Paired with electric motors/generators in the hybrid drive system, the CT 200h delivers a combined output of up to 134 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT), the CT 200h offers seamless power delivery and impressive efficiency.

CT 200h Driving Mode Optimizations

The CT 200h’s compact engine size not only contributes to its remarkable fuel economy but also sets it apart as a trailblazer in luxury automotive engineering. With four driving modes—Normal, Sport, Eco, and EV—the CT 200h provides versatility to suit various driving preferences. Sport mode enhances throttle response and steering feel, maximizing the car’s performance potential. Meanwhile, EV mode allows for zero-emission driving, reflecting Lexus’ commitment to sustainability. Despite its modest displacement, the CT 200h’s innovative powertrain offers a compelling blend of power, efficiency, and refinement, setting a new standard in the luxury hybrid segment.

Same Engine As The Toyota Prius

Sharing its engine with the legendary Prius, the Lexus CT 200h inherits a lineage of proven reliability and efficiency. With mile-per-gallon figures around a combined 42 MPG, this compact yet capable engine delivers a balance of performance and fuel efficiency that has become synonymous with the Prius name. By leveraging the same power plant, the CT 200h inherits not only the Prius’s eco-friendly credentials but also its reputation for enduring quality and longevity, something that bigger “experimental” luxury car engines can’t compete with.

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The Toyota 2ZR-FXE

2016 Lexus CT 200h in blue engine bay detail shot

The Toyota 2ZR-FXE engine is one of the greatest four-cylinders to grace the automotive market. Developed as part of Toyota’s ZR engine family, the 2ZR-FXE represents the pinnacle of innovation in gasoline engine design. With a die-cast aluminum block and variable valve timing technology, this engine family sets a new standard for efficiency and performance. Most notably, the 2ZR-FXE engine introduces Toyota’s groundbreaking Atkinson cycle variant, enhancing thermal efficiency and optimizing power delivery.

Arguably one of the most reliable hybrid four-cylinder engines on the market, the 2ZR-FXE has earned widespread acclaim for its longevity and dependability. Its incorporation into numerous Toyota vehicles, including the iconic Prius, is a testament to its enduring popularity and proven track record. With applications spanning from the Toyota Auris to the Lexus CT, the 2ZR-FXE engine has become a cornerstone of Toyota’s hybrid lineup, delivering unparalleled efficiency across a diverse range of vehicles.

Hybrid Efficiency

The success of the 2ZR-FXE engine can be attributed to its remarkable combination of power and efficiency. Paired with electric motors/generators in the famous Toyota hybrid drive systems, the 2ZR-FXE engine bumps to more usable power figures, producing up to 138 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque. With a maximum thermal efficiency of approximately 38.5%, the 2ZR-FXE engine sets a new benchmark for fuel efficiency in the hybrid segment, further solidifying its reputation as a powerhouse of hybrid innovation in automotive engineering.

In applications like the 2017 Toyota Prius, the hybrid setup could reach figures of 54 MPG in the city. While the power output is nothing to write home about, and putting your foot on the floor is as boring as the dentist’s office, the drivetrain will continue to pull you along for years on end without sacrificing efficiency. In most setups, the 2ZR-FXE will produce 153 pound-feet of torque at 2,800 RPM and peak horsepower at 5,300 RPM. The electric motor torque helps get the car moving and the ample power sustains it for freeway driving, making the setup an optimal blend of power and efficiency.

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Lexus CT 200h Reliability

2011 Lexus CT 200h

The Lexus CT 200h is undoubtedly topping the list of reliability in the luxury compact car segment, earning a stellar reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 from RepairPal. The ranking places the CT 200h at the top of its class, reflecting its exceptional performance in terms of dependability and longevity. With an average annual repair cost of $386, the CT 200h has excellent ownership costs, making it a wise investment for drivers seeking peace of mind on the road.

Moreover, the severity of repairs is low, and the frequency of issues is average, indicating that major problems are rare occurrences for this hybrid luxury vehicle. With its exemplary reliability rating, the Lexus CT 200h stands as a beacon of excellence in the luxury compact car segment. Whether navigating bustling city streets or embarking on cross-country adventures, drivers can trust the CT 200h to deliver.

Crash Test Ratings (IIHS)

In addition to its remarkable reliability, the Lexus CT 200h also excels in safety, earning recognition as an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2017. The vehicle’s crashworthiness is, of course, centered around passenger protection, with top ratings across various crash test categories.

  • Small overlap front: driver-side – G
  • Moderate overlap front: original test – G
  • Side: original test – G
  • Roof strength – G
  • Head restraints & seats – G

From small overlap front to side impacts and roof strength, the CT 200h consistently gets high marks for its ability to withstand collisions and mitigate potential injuries. With a comprehensive suite of safety features and advanced engineering, the CT 200h offers drivers and passengers comfort and peace of mind.

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Discontinuing the Lexus CT 200h

2022 Lexus CT 200h Cherished Touring Edition in silver

In retrospect, the Lexus CT 200h leaves behind a legacy of reliability, efficiency, and innovation in the compact hybrid luxury segment. Despite its discontinuation in major markets such as the US, Europe, and Australia, the CT 200h continued to live on in Japan, where it first made its debut over a decade ago. However, as consumer preferences have shifted towards larger vehicles and SUVs, the compact hatchback has struggled to maintain its foothold in a rapidly evolving market.

The decision to cease production of the Lexus CT 200h in October 2022 marks the end of an era for this pioneering model. Over its lifespan, the CT 200h garnered a loyal following for its exceptional fuel economy, upscale amenities, and eco-friendly credentials. However, with sales waning and demand diminishing, Lexus made the choice to retire the CT 200h and make way for future endeavors in the compact hybrid segment.

As the final units of the Lexus CT 200h roll off the production line, the automotive world eagerly anticipates what lies ahead for Lexus. With the promise of a new compact crossover on the horizon, equipped with the latest hybrid powertrain technology, Lexus continues to push the boundaries of luxury and sustainability. While bidding farewell to the CT 200h may be upsetting to some, it means that Lexus is focusing on providing even better options. Building upon the ideas of the CT 200h will give Lexus yet another classic in their line-up, and we can not wait to see how they improve on its legacy.

The last CT 200h

As a proper send-off to the Lexus CT 200h, Lexus unveiled the special edition “Cherished Touring,” exclusively available in the Japanese market. This final iteration of the CT 200h features minor visual enhancements and additional equipment, designed to commemorate the legacy of this beloved model. Visually distinguished by silver accents adorning the spindle grille, fog lamp bezels, rear bumper bezel, and Sonic Titanium roof, the “Cherished Touring” edition exudes an aura of sophistication and elegance.

Inside, crimson patches on the seats and door cards complement the black upholstery, creating a luxurious and inviting cabin environment. Furthermore, the “Cherished Touring” edition boasts standard features such as electric and heated mirrors, auto wipers, a heated steering wheel, and heated seats, providing a premium driving experience for its lucky customers.

Under the hood, the Lexus CT 200h “Cherished Touring” retains the illustrious 2ZR-FXE engine that has defined its performance and efficiency throughout its lifespan. Priced at ¥4,223,000 ($36,508), the “Cherished Touring” edition offered a fitting tribute to the CT 200h’s enduring legacy, providing enthusiasts with one final opportunity to experience the pinnacle of luxury and eco-friendly performance before bidding farewell to this iconic model.

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