Dubbed by Lexus as the “world’s first hybrid-only luxury car,” the HS 250h aims to appeal to those who crave the fuel efficiency of a hybrid and compact with some of the more premium amenities. Basically, all of the things that Lexus is known for as a premium brand, which is primarily the feeling the driver gets when behind the wheel.
And in that regard, the 250h holds its own.
The interior features all the craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Lexus products, such as an exclusive Remote Touch navigation system and special stitched details on the center stack and instrument hood for a more premium touch in the cabin. A brown walnut wood trim is also available.
The 250h also features a gang of technologies, including a new standard multimedia package that includes Bluetooth, satellite radio and USB iPod connectivity operated via steering wheel controls or from the display screen.
The car is also available with Lexus’ next generation navigation system, which features Lexus’ exclusive Remote Touch controller which functions similar to a computer mouse when operating the system. In addition, a voice recognition feature (Voice Command) allows the driver to give more flexible, conversational commands for easier access to audio and climate,
as well as navigation system functions.
The new navi system also features XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather services and new feature that provides updates on sports and stocks.
For those who want to know exactly how much fuel they’re saving, a hybrid system indicator displays the hybrid system output and regenerative charging status, simultaneously indicating th e efficiency of the system related to driving style. The HS 250h also comes equipped with a rear-view camera as part of the optional navigation system with an available wide-view front monitor.
Safety features include a 10-airbag system with dual-stage airbags and knee airbags, side curtain airbags, and both front and rear seat-mounted side airbags. It’s also equipped with active head restraints for the front seats.
In addition, the HS is available with an optional pre-collision system that uses a radar system to measure and maintain a pre-set following distance from a vehicle traveling ahead.
The 250h comes standard with a 10-speaker, 137-watt Lexus audio system featuring a six-disc CD changer and a subwoofer and center speaker. There’s also an available Mark Levinson 5.1-channel premium surround sound system.
PASSING THE PUMP
For saving cash at the pump, which is where hybrids should really shine, the HS 250h combines Lexus’ first four-cylinder gas engine and the automaker’s latest hybrid system that aims to maximize fuel economy and minimize emissions without sacrificing the car’s ride.
The HS 250’s fuel economy is estimated at 35 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway for a combined 35 mpg. Some of the numbers for journalists on the test drive I attended for the launch of the car were even better than that.
The 250h has a 0-to-60 mph time of 8.4 seconds, which eases a lot of those fears of trying to merge on to a busy highway for the sake of “Going Green.”
The 250h’s engine has a peak output equal to 147 horsepower and in combination with the hybrid drive motor, 187 total system horsepower.
The car’s environmentally friendly theme is carried through in various elements of the vehicle, including an interior design that features a material derived from plants, formally known as Ecological Plastic, in everything from the interior upholstery to the door scuff plates.
Overall, approximately 30 percent of the interior and trunk are covered in Ecological Plastic, resulting in a reduction of carbon emissions by approximately 20 percent over the estimated life of the vehicle.
WHERE’S THE STAR POWER?
Pricing starts at $34,200. The premium model has a MSRP of $36,970, not including the delivery, processing and handling fee of $875.
Trouble is, the HS 250h’s exterior design doesn’t quite live up to Lexus status. If it weren’t for that thirty-four grand sticker, the car seems like it’d be a better fit for the Toyota line-up.
Sure, a lot of the car’s styling cues probably can be chalked up to carmaker’s self-described “ambitious goals” to get the best fuel economy in an “attractive, spacious, yet compact package.”
Spacious? Yes. Comfortable package? Absolutely.
Attractive? Well...maybe for a more practical car, but it doesn’t have the type of wow factor that most have come to expect from Lexus when they roll out a new vehicle.
Then again, maybe it’s just a sign that some things are more better suited for practicality, and that the status of “premium luxury” should be reserved for an elite few.
Pricing: $34,200 (base)
MPG: 35 city/34 highway
Feature: Ecological Plastic
Exclusive remote touch controller
Available Mark Levinson 5.1 audio systemV
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