|Lexus HS 250h
|Lexus HS 250h
|Lexus HS 250h
HS 250h Specs
By Derek Mau
- Front passengers get heated AND cooled seats
- Fundamentally a good daily commuter car with luxury appointments
- 34 miles per gallon overall
- Smothered with safety-features
- EV mode only good for golf-cart speeds
- Lane Keep Assist (LKA) ineffective when roads are wet
- Sound dampening is not up “luxury” car expectations
- Limited headroom for passengers front and rear
- small trunk space
Ruling: a small, classy car with a softer, quieter ride that is noticeably quicker than the Prius.
Hybrid cars make about as much sense as Ozzy Osborne or the US tax code. Some things are just barely comprehensible. Hybrid technology is expensive, which puts an additional premium on the price of the car. Acceleration is slower than the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles and driving dynamics are about as enthusiastic as the underpaid government worker behind the DMV counter. Plus, we think the Prius and Insight look retarded. I’ll leave the controversy associated with the manufacture and disposal of nickel metal hydride batteries for another article.
All things considered, it can’t be all that bad with hybrids or is the public totally duped into thinking that hybrid cars will enable them as the all-powerful eco-warrior and save the world from its dependence on fossil fuels? A scant five years ago, there were only four hybrid models available to the general consumer. Rolling into 2010, there are now 27 hybrid models available.
According to Lexus, The Lexus HS 250h Hybrid is the only compact luxury hybrid vehicle in the marketplace. Despite all outward appearances the HS 250h looks like a Toyota Corolla given the luxury treatment. Beneath the skin this Lexus is based on the same platform underpinning of the Scion tC with a fully independent suspension and a size somewhere between the IS and the ES models. If you are not familiar with the Lexus line-up, the HS 250h is slightly larger than the Prius and. Although these others are hybrids, they hardly reek of anything approaching luxury despite their popularity among those with heavy bank accounts.
The HS has a 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four with 148 HP under the hood, and combined with a 141 HP electric drive motor, there’s a grand total of 187 HP. That power mates up to a CVT transmission backed up with heavy duty aerodynamic optimization and driver assistance tools. A second motor in the hybrid system serves as both engine starter and generator to charge the hybrid battery pack. (Note that the sum of the engine and motor power are not equal to the total system power as the operation of the engine and motor cannot be maximized in the same operation range)
Official EPA mileage for the HS 250h is 35 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. Our observed overall fuel economy after logging several hundred miles with the HS was 33 mpg. When driven a little more conservatively, our tester almost reached 35 mpg.
Truthfully, we actually enjoyed the 250h even though hybrid vehicles are not our favorite forms of transportation. If you ignore the disposition of the CVT, the 3740-pound car is actually not a total dud, accelerating to 60 MPH in about 8.7 seconds, handling corners in a way we didn’t think a hybrid could and, when you push it past the point of reason, it doesn’t surprise, just gradually transitions to predictable understeer. Road feel is only perceptible to the sight impaired, even with the optional 18-inch wheels and 225/45-series tires. The good news is that the electronically assisted steering response is direct, receptive to light input, and gets a little weighty as speeds increase.
High quality materials reside throughout, with 30% of materials derived from plant-based sources (bioplastics). The hand-stitched leather sprinkled around the cabin is a nice touch, as are the supportive seats and plush carpets. Unfortunately, the interior sound quality isn’t exactly up to the traditional Lexus-isolationist level. Which is kind of sad because the drone of the engine mated to the CVT is pitiful.
The HS 250h has both an “Eco” mode to conserve gas and a “Power” mode that provides plenty of oomph to accelerate up hills and on and off highways. The driver can select one of three modes: Power, Normal and Eco. Each mode changes the rate of throttle opening for a given throttle-pedal angle or however you happen to be mashing the pedal given your immediate need for speed. Normal mode has an essentially linear throttle action that gives natural progressive power.
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