For the uninitiated, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h is the world’s first dedicated luxury hybrid. It is not based on another model, like previous Lexus hybrids and, as a result, the car is a rolling technology platform. On my first entry into the vehicle, I noted the sharpness of the interior and the quietness of the cabin. The car runs almost silently.
My test vehicle was gray and had a two-tone gray interior that was light, comfortable and made me feel good. That’s the sort of stuff you expect from one of the world’s leading manufacturers of luxury vehicles.
The Lexus 250 HS has a four-cylinder engine, the first for the brand, and an electric motor. Both produce 147 horsepower, but the car generates a maximum of 147 horsepower because the two engines cannot be used in tandem.
The car has a continually variable transmission (CVT), and the driver can select from several drive modes: normal, power, eco and EV. Each option changes the response characteristics of the vehicle. I left it in normal mode.
Toyota says, “Normal mode has an essentially linear throttle response that gives naturally progressive power. Power mode can be selected for a more responsive feel when desired.
In eco mode, air-conditioning settings are adjusted and the throttle response is reduced relative to the pedal angle to emphasize fuel economy. Under certain circumstances, the EV mode allows the vehicle to be driven short distances using only the electric motors.” Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is rated at 8.4 seconds, according to Lexus,.
I only have one quibble. The center stack juts out from the dashboard somewhat like a pier. That makes it easy to reach but also unexpectedly puts it in the way.
Still, the back seats are snug but comfortable. There is good head room, and leg room was adequate. Two adults can ride in the back for some time and not be uncomfortable when the trip is done.
The car is smooth, and it handles well. It is not going to scorch the pavement from a standing stop, but it won’t make you an impediment to other vehicles. The Lexus 250 HS corners well, and the energy gauge tells you how much the battery is recharging when you brake.
As with most hybrids, I could sense the extra weight the car was carrying because of the electric battery pack and the electric motor. But I think that Lexus has done a nice job of tuning the suspension to handle the extra girth.
The Lexus HS 250h is a small midsize car. This car is really a test for Lexus’ brand strength. Consumers can choose from among several hybrid sedans out there, including the market-leading Toyota Prius from the HS 250h’s parent company.
Lexus is aiming at environmentally conscious luxury car buyers. The 2010 Lexus HS 250h starts at $34,200. (My test vehicle was $38,687.) The Lexus HS 250h test car was chock-full of consumer goodies, including a rearview camera, navigation system, satellite radio, voice controls, auxiliary and USB jacks, ventilated front seats and Bluetooth for mobile devices.
On top of that, the car has an EPA rating of 35 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway.