While the idea of an environmentally responsible luxury car may sound like a contradiction, Lexus hoped to prove otherwise with its HS 250h. Smaller than the automaker's midsize ES 350, the Lexus HS 250h was powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that was more potent than that of a Prius. The result was fairly lively performance and good fuel economy.
As for luxury, the Lexus HS 250h had a relatively roomy interior, plus the expected number of high-end features. But this distinctive combination never really clicked with consumers, and Lexus ended production after a short three-year run. As a used model, the HS 250h is an agreeable choice, but keep in mind that it is a car of compromise; you can get better fuel economy from a dedicated hybrid or greater comfort and performance from a traditional small or midsize luxury sedan.
Most Recent Lexus HS 250h
The Lexus HS 250h was produced from 2010 through 2012 and was virtually unchanged throughout its brief run. It came in base and Premium trim levels. Both were powered by a hybrid powertrain that married a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motors for a combined output of 187 horsepower. The combination drove the front wheels via a specialized continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The entry-level HS 250h was well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker audio system with six-CD changer, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Premium model added 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming outside mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, genuine wood trim and upgraded leather upholstery.
Options included a front and rear parking camera system, adaptive LED headlights, a head-up display, a premium audio system and a hard-drive-based navigation system that also delivered real-time weather forecasts, traffic conditions, sports scores and stock prices.
In reviews, we found that the Lexus HS 250h offered a distinctive middle ground in terms of the performance and fuel economy trade-off. Compared to the typical entry-level luxury sedan, both acceleration and handling were lackluster. Yet the HS did perform better than the Prius, and fuel economy was decent, with a 35 mpg rating in city driving.
Inside, the HS 250h was handsome and comfortable, with a decent amount of head- and legroom for four adults. While the good-sized trunk would easily swallow a pair of golf bags and a couple of modest-size suitcases, the lack of fold-down rear seatbacks limited its cargo-carrying flexibility.