2010 Lexus HS 250h
Last Friday, I took delivery of a Lexus HS 250h Premium to drive for one week. I used the HS 250h for everything I would have used my own car for, and then some — everything from a quick run to the grocery store to a long road trip. I recorded my exact as-it-happens impressions here, here, and here. This is my overall review, considering everything I experienced with the HS 250h over the week I had it.
Before I even laid eyes on the HS 250h, I read several reviews, some of which compared this Lexus to its distant cousin, the Toyota Prius. Although they share some technology, I thought it was an odd comparison, even then. Yes, all Toyota and Lexus hybrids use the series/parallel hybrid system, but, I thought, a Lexus is a Lexus. It’s designed for a luxury car buyer, not at all the same demographic as the Prius. I had driven the third-gen Prius before the HS 250h, so I felt prepared to see if and how the comparison is fair.
It isn’t. It’s downright ridiculous. I can say with absolute certainty that the Lexus HS 250h is nothing like the Toyota Prius. I can’t imagine why anyone would compare the two. (Read my review of the third-gen Prius here.)
That being said, I have to add that the HS 250h isn’t perfect. There were a few minor things I would have changed. I would have liked a larger trunk space. The armrest was awkward. The button on the key fob that is supposed to open the trunk refused to work. But overall, my impression of the HS 250h was extremely positive. It’s a perfect fit for its target demographic. It’s swanky, stylish, superlatively responsive and well-designed.
Outside, the HS 250h looks a little like an upscale Camry. It’s crisp and no-nonsense, not terribly large, but very sleek. It’s heavy, so I didn’t expect jaw-dropping gas mileage rates, but I was still impressed. On my “city driving” day, I got 32.4 miles per gallon. On my “freeway driving” day, I got 37.6 miles per gallon. The ride was smooth, handling and performance what you would expect from a Lexus. Seamless acceleration and transition, with no noticeable hesitation, which I did experience with the third-gen Prius. The HS 250h boasts a double-wishbone rear suspension, making for an incredibly smooth ride, even on Michigan’s infamously pothole-laden roads. The only perceptible noises were the smooth hum of the engine and the subtle whirr of the regenerative braking. In short, it looks and feels just like a Lexus should, hybrid or not.
Inside, the HS 250h Premium seems designed with every imaginable comfort and convenience in mind. Every gauge and control, except the armrest, is exactly where it ought to be. There was no struggling to see a read-out or fumbling to find a button. Many of the controls and read-outs can be easily accessed right on the steering wheel. The Mark Levinson audio sound system was wicked clear and I loved being able to listen to my iPod through it without fussing with tangled cables or tiny buttons. The materials used on the interior are remarkable: soft, plush leather and glossy, rich walnut. This is where the Prius seemed chintzy, and where the HS 250h is plush, luxurious. Again, it’s hard to comprehend the comparison.
I’m eager to get my hands on the third-gen Prius again to see if there was something I missed, some point that would make the comparison between it and this HS 250h make sense. I’m also eager to get my hands on this Lexus again, but not because I want to critique it. I just want to drive it again.
More technical information on the HS 250h can be found here.