2011 HS 250h New Car Test Drive
The Lexus HS 250h combines the performance of a V6 with the mileage of a four-cylinder economy car using an advanced hybrid gas-electric powertrain. The HS combines elements of the Prius platform with the more powerful Camry hybrid powertrain.
Hybrid drive systems can be designed to boost mileage as in the Prius or enhance performance as in the LS 600h L. The Lexus systems are a modular technology and can deliver any mix of the two. The HS 250h falls somewhere in the middle of the hybrid spectrum.
The result is a clean, efficient luxury car with good numbers both in power and fuel economy. The HS 250h gets an EPA-estimated 35/34 mpg City/Highway. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which is adequate for most situations. In combination with the hybrid drive motor, the HS 250h generates 187 total system horsepower, running on regular unleaded gasoline.
The Lexus HS 250h, like the Prius, has technology features that make it a fascinating car to operate. It's a car that appeals more to a finely developed sense of touch. The HS experience is more like driving a laptop, one with a lot of bright, new features and an inviting, intuitive operating system. To operate the HS is to experience a sense of enlightenment, more than a compulsion to drive harder and faster.
This is the first hybrid-only car for Lexus, and the first Lexus with a four-cylinder engine. Launched as a 2010 model, the HS 250h offers all the latest hybrid-drive system upgrades that are now spreading through the Lexus line of hybrids. The new systems are lighter, more compact and more efficient. The HS also has the smoother ride and refined features consistent with a car in this price range.
Other than paint colors, there are no changes for 2011.
Mileage is equivalent to the Camry hybrid, which is a bigger car and somewhat roomier inside than the HS 250h. Compared to other cars in the Lexus line, the HS is about 5 inches longer than the sporty IS and about seven inches shorter than the ES sedan. It's about the same size as a Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3 Series. The Lexus is taller than either of the German cars, but without any real gain in interior room.
Like the Prius, the HS 250h makes a social statement, but does so within the context of a forward-looking, technology-driven luxury brand. Its more powerful 2.4-liter engine is quite a bit peppier than the Prius, consciously trading some mileage for better acceleration and easier highway cruising.
But at 35 mpg overall, the HS 250h is still highly economical and efficient. The HS 250h generates 70 percent fewer emissions than the average new car. It's a California Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV), which makes it one of a handful of the cleanest cars in the world.
The battery pack is located between the rear seat and trunk; it can deliver a peak output of 40 horsepower, which is blended into the system according to driver demand. The batteries are automatically recharged as needed, either by the engine or braking action that converts momentum into electricity.
The HS 250h has four drive-modes: Normal, Power, Eco and EV. The different modes alter throttle response, managing air and fuel for more power, or conversely, better economy. The electric-only EV mode has a modest range that varies according to temperature, driver demand and battery condition, estimated at somewhere between half a mile and 1.5 miles.
A well-appointed interior is set up to take advantage of new ideas about how to adjust controls and features without distracting the driver's attention. An available mouse-like controller, the Remote Touch system, eliminates the need for touch screen controls.
The 2011 HS 250h ($35,100) comes in standard and Premium ($37,870) models.
Standard features on the HS 250h include leather-trimmed seats; 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat; a 10-speaker, 137-watt audio system with a six-disc CD changer, a subwoofer and center speaker; Bluetooth for phone and music streaming capabilities; integrated subscription satellite radio (includes 90-day trial); USB/iPod connectivity operated via steering wheel controls or the display screen; heated outside mirrors; and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. An optional Touring Package ($1600) for the standard model includes heated front seats, illuminated front scuff plates, 18-inch wheels, sport suspension and pedals, and two-tone leather interior trim. Stand-alone options include heated seats ($440), interior wood trim ($300), and 18-inch alloy wheels ($770).
The HS 250h Premium ($37,870) adds heated/ventilated front seats trimmed in semi-aniline leather; 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels; rain-sensing windshield wipers; heated electrochromic exterior mirrors; genuine wood interior trim; and a memory system that allows individual driver settings for seat, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, outside mirrors and air conditioning settings to be recalled automatically by individual key fobs. Premium can be upgraded with the Technology Package ($3900) that includes a heads-up-display, radar cruise control, park assist, and other advanced safety systems. Premium models equipped with the Navigation Package can also be upgraded with the 330-watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system ($1,580).
Options for both models include the Navigation Package ($2,125) with the Remote Touch navigation controller, Bluetooth, air ionizer, and a host of available telematic systems from Lexus Enform and XM. Other options available for both models include LED headlamps with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), intelligent high beam, and headlamp washers ($1,805); and a rear spoiler ($200).
Safety features include a 10-airbag supplemental restraint system and front active head rests.