New hybrid sedan is state-of-the-art green. The new 2010 Lexus HS 250h combines the performance of a V6 with the
mileage of a four-cylinder economy car using an advanced hybrid
The Lexus HS 250 doesn’t offer the compelling visceral experience that
comes with neck-snapping acceleration and high-G-force cornering, but
like the Prius, it has technology features that make it a fascinating
car to operate. It’s a car that appeals more to a finely developed
sense of touch. The HS experience is more like driving a laptop, one
with a lot of bright, new features and an inviting, intuitive operating
system. To operate the HS is to experience a sense of enlightenment,
more than a compulsion to drive harder and faster.
This is the first hybrid-only car for Lexus, and the first Lexus with a
four-cylinder engine. The 2010 HS 250h offers all the latest
hybrid-drive system upgrades that are now spreading through the Lexus
line of hybrids. The new systems are lighter, more compact and more
The HS combines elements of the Prius platform with the more powerful
Camry hybrid powertrain. The HS also has the smoother ride and refined
features consistent with a car in this price range.
Mileage is equivalent to the Camry hybrid, which is a bigger car but
only slightly roomier inside than the HS 250h. Compared to other cars
in the Lexus line, the HS is about 5 inches longer than the sporty IS
and about six inches shorter than the ES sedan. It’s a little bigger,
with more legroom in back, than the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series
Like the Prius, the HS 250h makes a social statement, but does so
within the context of a forward-looking, technology-driven luxury
brand. Its more powerful 2.4-liter engine is quite a bit peppier than
the Prius, consciously trading some mileage for better acceleration and
easier highway cruising.
But at 35 mpg overall, the HS 250h is still highly economical and
efficient. The HS 250h generates 70 percent fewer emissions than the
average new car. It’s a California Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle
(SULEV), which makes it one of a handful of the cleanest cars in the
The battery pack is located between the rear seat and trunk, powering a
motor generator that adds about 40 horsepower, which is blended into
the system according to driver demand. The batteries are automatically
recharged as needed, either by the engine or braking action that
converts momentum into electricity.
The HS 250h has four drive-modes: Normal, Power, Eco and EV. The
different modes alter throttle response, managing fuel flow for more
power, or conversely, better economy. The electric-only EV mode has a
modest range that varies according to temperature, driver demand and
battery condition, estimated at somewhere between half a mile and 1.5
A well-appointed interior is set up to take advantage of new ideas
about how to adjust controls and features without distracting the
driver’s attention. An available mouse-like controller, the Remote
Touch system, eliminates the need for touch screen controls.
The 2010 HS 250h ($34,200) comes in standard and Premium ($36,970) models.
Standard features on the HS 250h include leather-trimmed seats; 10-way
power-adjustable driver’s seat with eight-way power-adjustable front
passenger seat; a 10-speaker, 137-watt audio system with a six-disc CD
changer, a subwoofer and center speaker; Bluetooth for phone and music
streaming capabilities; integrated subscription satellite radio
(includes 90-day trial); USB/iPod connectivity operated via steering
wheel controls or the display screen; and 17-inch aluminum alloy
wheels. An optional Touring Package ($1600) for the standard model
includes heated front seats, illuminated front scuff plates, 18-inch
wheels, sport suspension and pedals, and leather interior trim.
Standalone options include heated seats ($440), interior wood trim
($300), and 18-inch alloy wheels ($770).
The HS 250h Premium ($36,970) adds heated/ventilated front seats
trimmed in semi-aniline leather; 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels;
rain-sensing windshield wipers; heated electrochromic exterior mirrors;
genuine wood interior trim; and a memory system that allows individual
driver settings for seat, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, outside
mirrors and air conditioning settings to be recalled automatically by
individual key fobs. Premium can be upgraded with the Technology
Package ($3900) that includes a heads-up-display, radar cruise control
and park assist. Premium models equipped with the Navigation Package
can also be upgraded with the 330-watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson
surround sound system ($1580).
Options for both models include the Navigation Package ($2125) with the
Remote Touch navigation controller, Bluetooth, backup monitor, air
ionizer, and a host of available telematic systems from Lexus Enform
and XM. Other options available for both models include LED headlamps
with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) with intelligent high beam
and headlamp washers ($1805), and a rear spoiler ($200).
Safety features include a 10-airbag supplemental restraint system and front active head rests.
By John Stewart