2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7
2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 7
Both of BMW's first two hybrid efforts show up on this list. The big 7-Series hybrid sedan launched in 2012 suffered from an unwieldy name, marginal gas mileage, and lumpy driving behavior that belied its "ultimate driving machine" image.
This too was a mild-hybrid system, with a 15-kilowatt (22-hp) electric motor that wasn't nearly powerful enough to move the full-size luxury sedan on its own.
The motor only contributed additional torque, restarted the 455-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine when the car moved away from a stop, and recharged the lithium-ion battery pack under braking.
But BMW skewed its first hybrid system toward boosting power, rather than improving fuel efficiency. The company actually touted the hybrid 7-Series as "the world's fastest hybrid vehicle" at the time, with a 0-to-60-mph time of just 4.7 seconds.
The EPA rated the ActiveHybrid 7Li model at 20 mpg combined--no better than the (less powerful) conventional 740Li model the same year.
When we tested the car, we weren't impressed by the driving experience, which hardly squared with the old "Ultimate Driving Machine" mantra. It just wasn't how a big, expensive BMW should behave.
The car slowed noticeably when lifting off the throttle under 25 mph, "as if it had driven into mud that was dragging it down." Then, there was "a perceptible second phase of recharging in which the car slows even quicker."
For 2013, the ActiveHybrid 7 got an entirely new hybrid powertrain shared with 5-Series and 3-Series hybrids as well. The more powerful 40-kW (55-hp) electric motor can now move the car purely under electric power at low speeds, and rather than a V-8, it's paired to a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine.
The update makes orphans of the 2011 and 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 7. With fuel economy no better than a non-hybrid 7-Series, and notably worse driving behavior, we see no reason to buy the 2012 model as a used car.
2011 Lexus HS 250h
2010-2012 Lexus HS 250h
Sometimes the market renders an accurate judgment: Cars that sell in low volumes often aren't very good. That's the case with the Lexus HS 250h, which lasted only three model years--and was one of the few Lexus models actually killed off for unpopularity.
It was effectively supplanted by the all-new 2013 Lexus ES 300h, a hybrid version of the brand's mid-size luxury sedan. We've driven that one, and it's far better than the unloved HS.
When it launched, the HS 250h was the first "dedicated" Lexus hybrid--a car with unique styling not shared with a conventional gasoline model. (The Toyota Prius is the prime example of a dedicated hybrid; there's no gasoline-only Prius.)
But awkward styling, mediocre performance, and unpleasant driving characteristics likely doomed it among Lexus buyers looking for smooth, quiet, effortless luxury in reliable packages.
While the HS was quiet inside under most circumstances, the engine howled under full acceleration--not what a mid-size luxury sedan at $37,000-plus should do.
While it used the more powerful 2.5-liter engine and powertrain from the Camry Hybrid, it weighed fully 700 pounds more than a Prius--so the HS was rated at just a 35-mpg EPA combined gas mileage rating, far lower than the 50-mpg Prius.
Sales of the HS 250h never came close to Lexus targets its first year, though they're likely still to be found in the used-car section of your local Lexus dealer.
We can't think of a reason to buy one, though.