Tag Archive | Hybrid Hysteria

Design Study: 2012 Lexus CT200h

Billed as the most fuel efficient luxury car in the US, the CT200h is the latest in a line of interminably named, but generally fine automobiles from Toyota’s luxury division.  It is currently Lexus’ only hatchback (if you don’t count their myriad SUVs, which I don’t), and in my opinion, their best looking offering.

With the exception of an oddly-styled C-pillar – that instead of making the car look like a 3-door coupe, makes it look strangely rear-heavy – the CT is a very nice looking car.  It does have some of the tiresome current styling memes such as poor rearward visibility, the high beltline and appendage-y looking stalk-mounted door mirrors, but all-in-all, it is a refined, clean and handsome design.

It also wore the best looking set of wheels at the 2012 Utah International Auto Expo.

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Hatchtopia Feature: Gadget Bloat

My employer has a Ford Escape Hybrid available to drive for various errands and trips that those in my office occasionally make.  It’s a nice enough vehicle, fairly comfortable, but cheaply made and strangely noisy.   Now, fair warning, I’m a Ford fanboy and shareholder and have been a Ford guy pretty much as long as I’ve been in to cars.  My dad had a series of Ford trucks when I was young and an annoying kid in the neighborhood was a Chevy honk, so it was only natural.

That said, I really want to like the Escape, but I just can’t.  It’s cheap on the inside and the CVT transmission of the Hybrid model makes the engine drone like a constipated buffalo.  If I were a betting man, I’d say that Ford designed the Escape  to meet a certain price point – and it shows.  The interior plastics are of a lower grade than many children’s toys (I was going to say Lego, but that would be grave insult to the building blocks), the aforementioned engine drone grates on the nerves and the overall feeling is one of tinny cheapness.

But, it’s got so many gadgets!  Neat stuff like power windows, locks, seats, automatic climate control, cruise control, power mirrors, power, power, POWER!

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2006 Toyota Prius

Parked on a Sandy, Utah street – a Toyota Prius.  Odd choice for Hatch in the Wild?  Perhaps, but it gives way to a little debate and some fun with Photoshop.

Don't comic heroes usually have more muscle?

Is this the superhero that will save the world?  Time will tell.  Until then, love it or hate it, this is what a “hybrid” looks like.  The hybrid revolution started with the Toyota Prius in 1997, and has since spread to nearly every other manufacturer selling in the US.

For whatever reason, the form factor chosen for this revolution was the hatchback.  Along with that original Prius – the Honda Insight, when introduced in 2000, was a three-door hatch.  The original GM EV1 (yes, it was a full electric, so sue me) was as well.  The 2009 redesign of the Insight drew obvious cues from its Toyota competition, becoming a five-door.

It almost seems that like a tissue is a “kleenex,” a boxy five-door is a “hybrid” to many people.

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