Lexus HS 250h  (Source: Toyota)
Autoblog tests the latest hybrid from Lexus

Toyota first introduced its latest hybrid back in January at the Detroit Auto Show. The Lexus HS 250h joins other hybrid family members which now include the GS 450h, RX 450h, and the LS 600h L.

Toyota is now allowing the press to finally drive the new HS 250h and Autoblog was given the opportunity to get behind the wheel. Despite previous reports likening the HS 250h's platform to the Toyota Prius, Lexus is pointing out that the vehicle shares more in common with the Toyota Avensis which is available in Europe -- the second generation Avensis platform currently underpins the Scion tC which should be more familiar to residents of the U.S.

More important, however, is the 3,682-lb HS 250h's powertrain and fuel economy since the vehicle is after all a hybrid. The HS 250h is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine which produces 147 HP -- the gasoline engine is joined by an electric motor and 245-volt battery pack which brings total system power to 187 HP.

The system in return allows the HS 250h to achieve 35 mpg in the city and 33 mpg in the highway (34 mpg combined). For comparison, the subcompact Honda Fit gets 25 mpg in the city, and 35 mpg on the highway.

When it comes to performance, Autoblog says that the vehicle can reach 60 mph in 8.4 seconds and can travel at up to 20 mph on battery power alone. The vehicle can also run in battery-only mode for up to five minutes on the condition that the battery pack has at least 50 percent capacity left and you keep the speed under 20 mph.

The $35,000 HS 250h ($40,000 fully loaded) seems to be targeting a pretty narrow demographic of people that don't mind the Toyota Corolla-ish styling, want a hybrid sedan (despite the much lower fuel economy numbers than a 2010 Prius), and prefer the Lexus brand. Others will be quick to point out that the cheaper Ford Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

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