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Essentially a class of one, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h offers all the luxury expected of a premium-brand sedan along with the fuel economy of a gas-sipping subcompact.
Relatively brisk performance, comfortable and quiet cabin, user-friendly high-tech features, long list of safety features, excellent build quality.
Touchy brakes, numb steering, gets pricey with options.
Available HS 250h Models
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The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is an all-new compact luxury hybrid sedan.
For the most part, consumers previously desiring a vehicle high on fuel efficiency and luxury haven't had much to choose from. Toyota, for example, offers either its super fuel-efficient but bland Prius or not-that-efficient but otherwise premium collection of Lexus luxury hybrid vehicles like the LS 600h L. All of this changes with the 2010 Lexus HS 250h, however. Here, Lexus offers the opportunity to be pampered by your car while still doing your part to help reduce your carbon footprint.
Rather than just slap Lexus badges on a Prius or Camry Hybrid and call it a day, Lexus based the HS 250h sedan on a specialized platform not utilized by any other Toyota or Lexus hybrid. In terms of size, it's bigger than a Corolla but smaller than a Camry. As for the driving experience, though, it's all Lexus, with refined performance, a smooth and quiet ride and an impeccably trimmed cabin chock-full of the latest (but easily operated) high-tech features.
The HS 250h borrows its powertrain from the Camry Hybrid, which is both bigger and more powerful than that used in the Prius. This allows it to post a 0-60-mph time of 8.7 seconds -- fairly quick for a hybrid vehicle. As for fuel economy, the HS 250h has an EPA fuel economy estimate of 35 mpg in combined driving. This is significantly less than the Prius' combined rating of 50 mpg, but it's still the highest of any luxury-branded hybrid vehicle.
Underway, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h easily plays the role of upscale luxury car with a supple ride, a quiet cabin and competent handling. It also has just about every luxury feature one could wish for as either standard or optional, as well as the promise of upscale service treatment at the dealership. As with many luxury vehicles, however, it is all too easy to jack up the HS 250h's price with the various option packages.
If you like the idea of the Lexus HS 250h but find its price a bit too dear, you might also consider the Ford Fusion Hybrid or the Nissan Altima Hybrid, though the latter is sold in just a handful of states. Both offer an affable combination of economy, luxury and athleticism. For now, however, the HS 250h basically exists in a class of one, where premium brand luxury and presence can be had along with fuel economy that's superior to that of a subcompact economy car.
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is a five-passenger compact sedan. Two trim levels are offered: base and Premium.
Standard on the base HS 250h are 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a sunroof, heated sideview mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, full power accessories, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power front seats (10-way driver and eight-way passenger), a tilt-telescoping steering wheel (with audio controls), dual-zone climate control and a 10-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary/USB/iPod connections and Bluetooth connectivity for both phone and audio.
Step up to the Premium trim and you'll also get 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming sideview mirrors, a power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory settings, heated and ventilated front seats, real wood cabin accents and upgraded leather upholstery.
Option highlights include park assist, a separate front-and-rear parking camera system, adaptive xenon headlights, a Mark Levinson audio system and a hard-drive-based navigation system with traffic/weather/sports/stock reporting. A Technology package (which requires the Navigation and Parking Camera packages) includes a head-up display, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and Lexus' Pre-Collision system. Some of the Premium's features can be had as individual options on the base trim.
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is a hybrid and as such is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 that works in tandem with a pair of electric motor/generators. Total output is 187 horsepower that is sent to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). We timed an HS 250h from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds -- a fairly quick time for a hybrid. Fuel economy checks in at 35 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined, which is about what most other midsize hybrid sedans also achieve.
The HS 250h comes standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control and no fewer than 10 airbags. The latter includes dual front knee as well as side curtain airbags and front-and-rear seat-mounted side airbags.
Included with the optional adaptive cruise control is Lexus' Pre-Collision System, which can pre-tension the front seatbelts and activate brake assist immediately when the driver presses the brake pedal if an impending collision is detected. The optional Technology package includes the Pre-Collision System as well as lane departure warning and driver attention monitors.
As expected of a Lexus product, the HS 250h provides a handsomely trimmed interior that boasts top-grade materials and impeccable fit and finish. Despite all the luxury features on hand, the controls are mostly intuitive. The available navigation system comes with the intuitive "Remote Touch" multifunction controller that also operates the climate control and sound systems. There's also a hybrid status indicator in the gauge cluster that helps drivers know when they're driving "green."
Considering the HS 250h's somewhat compact proportions, its backseat offers a respectable amount of head- and legroom for taller folks. The same goes for the stubby trunk, whose wide opening and deep, squared-off internal shape allows you to drop a golf bag straight in -- no angling required. Total trunk capacity is 12.1 cubic feet, but the rear seats do not fold down.
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h's powertrain is commendably smooth in its transition from its low-speed, all-electric mode to combined gas-and-electric power. Floor it, and after a slight pause the HS quickly gathers itself up and accelerates with a linear rush of power. It's no sport sedan, of course, but this is about as quick as it gets for an economy-minded hybrid.
At highway speeds, the HS 250h's cabin is impressively free of wind and road noise. The suspension does a good job of soaking up rough pavement, and the sedan is also pleasingly composed during cornering. Turn-in is crisp, and combines with the car's flat cornering poise to make the 2010 Lexus HS 250h seem lighter than its 3,700 pounds. The electric power steering is precise but lacking in feel. One other minor downside is the overly touchy feel of the brakes, though familiarity does help to relieve the problem.
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2010 Lexus HS 250h Sedan in WA is: