KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Lexus was one of the first brands to recognize the image-enhancing value of hybrid technology. Sure, its customers want big comfortable luxury cars, but they also want to drive with a clean conscience and perhaps display their concern for the environment. For 2010 Lexus introduces the HS 250h, a hybrid that offers the luxury, technology and comfort expected of the brand but in an efficient and distinctly-styled package. The HS 250h is an entry-level luxury vehicle that slots between the Lexus IS and ES in size and price, although its status as a purely hybrid vehicle means its appeal should extend to a wide variety of buyers.
You'll Like This Car If...
You might like the Lexus HS 250h if you want the comfort and technology of a luxury sedan but also want a vehicle that expresses your earth-friendly credentials. The HS 250h may be a good choice for those that enjoy the status associated with affluence and environmental awareness.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Despite the use of Lexus' L-Finesse design language, the HS 250h has a shape more reminiscent of an economy car like the Toyota Corolla than the upscale Lexus GS or LS. Those who prefer a stately and sophisticated luxury vehicle may find the styling of the HS 250h lacking.
What's Significant About This Car?
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is the brand's first dedicated hybrid, meaning it is available exclusively as a hybrid. Well-to-do car buyers who previously relied on the Toyota Prius to express their environmental concerns now have a more luxurious alternative.
Synchronizing the output of a gasoline engine and electric motor is a sizeable technical challenge, but the 2010 Lexus HS 250h does so quite well, providing a smooth and refined if not-quite exciting drive. The HS 250h features Normal, Eco and Power modes that alter the responsiveness of the accelerator pedal, allowing the driver to customize the vehicle's reactions to suit individual driving style. Also helping to maximize fuel economy are the Hybrid System Indicator that shows when the batteries are being charged and when they are being depleted, as well as an Eco light that illuminates when the vehicle is being driven most efficiently. Forget about the hybrid powertrain, and the HS 250h still manages to please with a suspension that strikes a nice balance between responsive handling and comfort. While not exactly sporty, the HS delivers good steering control while isolating passengers from the harsher portions of the pavement.
Combining a high-mounted display and a clever mouse-like controller, Lexus' intuitive Remote Touch interface makes controlling audio, climate and navigation functions extremely easy and safe. The system features Haptic Feedback that provides a physical cue when the cursor is placed over an icon. In practice, it's one of the best human-vehicle interfaces we've ever experienced.
Intelligent High Beams
When the optional Intelligent High-Beam system detects the headlights and taillights of other cars it automatically switches from high to low beams. When appropriate, the system switches the high beams on again, all without any input from the driver.
Have a seat in the HS 250h and it's clear that Lexus hasn't forgotten the luxury part of the luxury-hybrid equation. The surfaces have a premium feel, the design looks modern and the instrument panel is easy to understand and use. Those interested in the environment will also appreciate that about 30 percent of the upholstery is made from earth-friendly plant-based plastics. A tall roofline and legroom-enhancing sculpted front seatbacks make for roomy seating in all positions. The decently-sized trunk benefits from a wide opening, although the battery's position behind the rear seats means there is no pass-through to the main cabin.
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h's exterior embodies the L-Finesse theme that defines current Lexus design. The nose features a three-bar chrome grille and sharply-drawn headlights that lead rearward into a distinct shoulder line. Aft of the doors the shoulder line blends into chrome tail lights which, along with an abbreviated trunk lid and black diffuser-like bumper insert, define the tail of the vehicle. Ignore the modern design cues, chrome trim and blue-tinted Lexus badges and the HS 250h looks a bit like the budget-priced Toyota Corolla. Family resemblance aside, the HS 250h's extremely aerodynamic 0.27 drag coefficient does a lot to justify its shape.
Notable Standard Equipment
The standard equipment list for the base 2010 Lexus HS 250h includes 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and start, leather-trimmed interior, power seats, automatic dual-zone climate control and automatic headlights. The standard audio system is a 137-watt 10-speaker unit that features a USB port, auxiliary audio input, six-disc CD changer and the ability to stream Bluetooth 2.0 audio from compatible devices. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction controls and ten airbags, including front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags and front-passenger knee airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
There are several option packages for the 2010 Lexus HS 250h. The Navigation Package features a voice-activated navigation system, Lexus' Remote Touch controller, a backup camera and live traffic, weather, sports and stock information via XM Satellite Radio. The Touring Package adds heated front seats, 18-inch wheels, two-tone interior and sport suspension, while the Technology Package includes a host of advanced features including a Heads-up Display, front and rear parking sensors, dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning and a system that monitors the driver and warns if he or she is not paying attention to the road. Other options include wood-trim interior, adaptive LED headlights and a premium Mark Levinson audio system.
Under the Hood
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is a full hybrid, meaning it can be propelled by its efficient 2.4-liter gasoline engine, an electric motor, or a combination of both. Depending upon conditions, the gasoline engine will stop when the vehicle is motionless or moving at slow speeds. A second electric motor can quickly restart the gasoline engine and acts as an electric generator, capturing kinetic energy when the HS 250h slows down. Under hard acceleration, the gasoline engine and electric motor work together, delivering a combined output of 187 horsepower, accelerating the HS 250h from zero to 60 miles per hour in around 8.4 seconds. Power is sent to the front wheels via an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission that combines electric and gasoline propulsion into smooth forward motion.
2.4-liter in-line 4 (plus hybrid drive motor)
147 horsepower @ 6000 rpm; 187 hp total hybrid system
138 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 35/34
The base 2010 Lexus HS 250h has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $35,000, while the more luxurious Premium trim – with 18-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats and wood-trimmed interior – checks in at around $38,000. A fully loaded HS 250h Premium can sticker in at about $48,000. To get the best deal, be sure to take a look at the Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for the HS 250h. Based on Lexus' traditionally strong residual values, we expect the HS 250h to hold its value well over time.