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2010 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid Sedan Review

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2010 LEXUS HS250h
A Smaller Luxury Hybrid
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

Lexus was first to present luxury hybrids beginning with their popular RX crossover. That was a hit. Then came the GS luxury sport sedan and the big LS luxury sedan. The idea here was to get V8 performance out of V6 engines with more modest fuel consumption than the V8 would entail. They did a very good job.

This new HS250h, however, is focused on mileage and efficiency rather than power, much like Toyota’s innovative Prius, but at a level of luxury that will satisfy a Lexus customer. They’ve done a pretty good job of that as well. The HS comes in just two trim levels: Base starting at $34,650 and Premium starting at $37,420.

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On first blush I wasn’t sure the HS250h was quite up to my expectations for a Lexus. It seemed a but pedestrian, not quite trimmed to what I consider Lexus tastes. Our tester was the Base model, though, rather than the Premium. I could have been sitting in any nice Japanese or Korean sedan except for that slick, ergonomically charming center stack that presents itself to the driver like a Geisha with a plate of squid. More on that later.

Built from the Toyota Avensis platform (think European Camry) the HS250h came out in August of 2009 as a 2010 model - the first Lexus to be designed from the ground up to be a hybrid. The other Lexus hybrids are simply conventionally powered cars with the hybrid systems added. While the HS shares the same wheelbase as the Toyota Prius it shares virtually nothing else. Wider, taller, and considerable longer, the HS looks more conventional than the stub-tailed Prius. Nothing about the HS styling says “hybrid.”

On the outside it really does look like a smaller Lexus sedan with those graceful proportions. Though from the front, it weren’t for the bold Lexus “L” in the center of the three-bar grille it cold be mistaken for a Ford Fusion. But, other styling details are distinctly up-market. I wouldn’t have guessed that it has a coefficient of drag of just 0.27. That’s serious sports car territory.

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I love that driver interface system! The center stack slopes outward toward the console where our hand lays naturally onto the knob of the controller. The controller is like no other I’ve experienced in the automotive realm. A cap rolls around on top of a ball to move a pointer around the screen housing our navigation, HVAC, and many other functions. As the screens change we continue to scroll around and as the pointer crosses the outline of any function tab we feel a distinct resistance going in or out that verifies tactically that we can make our selection.

Playing around with the control systems I found myself in a section that said “Voice Command Address” where a pleasant man’s voice began talking about using one of the systems. He wouldn’t shut up and I had to turn the car off to get him to quit. Otherwise I found the system as usable as any for this technophobe. The basic functions were easily learned.

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Motivating the HS250h is a powertrain very similar to the Prius - just a big bigger and stronger. Total system power equates to about 187 horsepower and consists of the same 2.4-liter, 16-valve, DOHC 4-cylinder that powers the Camry. Of course it is enhanced with electric motors that not only boost the power for brisk acceleration but also can exclusively provide propulsion at low speeds. This is all mated to an efficient CVT.

The result is a decent zero-to-60 time of 8.4 seconds, and a stated 35-mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. With a careful, considered, gentile technique you can get even better mileage but you may annoy other traffic. With a 14.5-gallon fuel tank the range is well over 400 miles - very gratifying, indeed.

By the way, I’ve never seen a bigger packet of operator’s manuals in a car before. Fortunately the glove box is designed with a slot to fit the 2 -inch-thick sets of instructions and information. The navigation system manual alone is as big as the car’s manual.

EV Mode will prevent the engine coming on if you’re going less than 19-mph, the system is fully warmed up, window defrosters are not in use and a few other criteria. The B selection on the shifter will apply modest braking, presumably for regenerative braking, on down slopes.

Tires are 215/55/R17 Michelin “Energy MXV4 S8, a low rolling resistance, all-weather tire that is tuned for sporty sedans. The 18-inch version is standard on the Premium model.

The trunk only holds 12.1 cubic feet of stuff but the access is pretty good.

Basic warranty covers the HS250h for 48 months or 50,000 miles and the powertrain is covered for 72 months or 70,000 miles. For those worried about life of the battery pack, whether it will go beyond 100,000 miles, there appears to be no need for concern. Many Prius are well beyond that mileage without any issues that we’ve been able to discover.

Five Reasons to Consider the Lexus HS250h
1.Reasonably priced for a high-tech luxury car
2.Great “green” credentials
3.Doesn’t look like a “green” car
4.Lexus traditional quality
5.Great fuel economy

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved