It’s ten o’clock on Saturday night and I have the windows down, the moon roof open, and “Time to Pretend” by MGMT buzzing in my ears. I feel giddy, invincible, like the road was made for me and I’m the only one on it. Headlights appear in my rear-view mirror and I glance down at the speedometer. I’m going a cop-safe 73 in a 70, but I feel like I’m flying, gliding across the pavement, that’s how responsive the car I’m driving is.
The night before, I took delivery of a pre-production Lexus HS 250h "Premium," and this is the first chance I’ve had to open it up and see what this car can do. I’m impressed. I’m not just objectively judging the handling or response. I’m feeling this car and I am in love.
I’ve had a chance to read various reviews of the HS 250h. Car and Driver said it was a “compromise,” an “over-priced Prius.” I heartily disagree. I’ve driven the third-gen Prius and I can’t see a resemblance, not even as a distant cousin. The Prius was a little hesitant and maybe a little less-than-upscale inside (read my review here). The HS 250h is, well, a Lexus. It’s hard to remember it’s a hybrid, a gas-sipper, environmentally friendly. You turn it on, hit the gas, and go. No hesitation. The transition from electric to gas is seamless, smooth. The interior is rich, lush, comfortable. Every gauge on the instrument panel is exactly where it ought to be, and every control is wonderfully intuitive. There was no searching for a read-out, no fumbling to turn something on or off. The seats and sound system must be described in superlatives: the best, the most of any adjective you can think of. I can’t imagine why on earth Car and Driver would compare this to the Prius.
I feel obligated to mention the only thing I was able to find wrong with this vehicle. Yes, it is “nit-picky” but I didn’t want to be that reviewer who gushes about a car to the point where a reader might assume I was being bribed by Lexus. Here it is: the armrest in the front is odd, awkward. There are two catches, one that moves the armrest front or back, the other that opens the top of the armrest to reveal a storage space. There’s no other word for this than “awkward.” I wanted the top button to open the lid, and the bottom button to move the armrest.
My first impression, garnered from a late-night drive on a lonely stretch of freeway, is set. Tomorrow, I’m taking the HS 250h to run errands with my pre-schooler, Sophie. The bank, the grocery store, the book-store, back-to-school shopping.