Years back Lexus became the first luxury make to offer hybrid versions of its own products.  Some of the vehicles have been well received, but the latest hybrid offering from Lexus has not been praised, rather it has been hit hard by reviews stating that the Lexus HS250h is little more than an overpriced Prius.

Recently, Car and Driver got their chance for a brief test drive of this vehicle and they too have come away with a less than raving review.  To its credit, this Lexus does offer the best gas mileage of any luxury hybrid ever made.  But is gas mileage alone enough to make this a great vehicle?

The HS tips the scales at a porky 3740 pounds.  All of that weight requires a lot of power for motivation.  The HS recieves the 2.4 liter engine from the Camry and combines that with a hybrid powertrain similar to the Prius.  The total output comes in at 187 hp, but this vehicle has some 500 pounds of additional weight over a Prius which hurts both performance and gas mileage significantly.  Even with the additional weight, the HS outperforms the Prius in 0-60 by 1.6 seconds, but gas mileage numbers of 35 for the HS puts it about 15 mpgs below the Prius.

When in motion, the HS lacks steering feel and has very low roadholding abilities.  In terms of dynamic driving attributes, the HS is as Car and Driver says a "dud".

On the interior, the Lexus is outfitted as you would expect of any Lexus vehicle.  It has all of the extras and convenience items expected from this make and does not disappoint.  The bad part for Lexus is that nearly all of the options on this vehicle are also available on the lower prices Prius.  The only options the Lexus has that are unavailable on the Prius is a remote touch controller, a Mark Levinson stereo, and front and side cameras.

One thing the Lexus has going for it is the renown dealership experience that has become a hallmark of the company.  But is that experience worth an estimated $5,000 over a comparably equipped Prius that returns significantly better gas mileage?

In short, Car and Driver states that the HS can't match the Prius in green appeal, distinctive looks, or fuel economy.  As a luxury vehicle, it doesn't match up with other luxury cars in the areas of quietness and solid feel.  In the end the HS is a compromise of a car that really doesn't fit into any category and does not excel in any one area.

Source:  Car and Driver September 2009