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Lexus HS 250h  (Source: Toyota)
Buyers are swiftly lining up for the Lexus HS 250h

Eager to cash in on an uptick in hybrid sales, Toyota has already boosted the production of its third-generation Prius, which topped sales charts in Japan and is all but sold out in many parts of the U.S.  What Toyota didn't plan on was the very enthusiastic reception its new Lexus HS 250h luxury hybrid has also received in Japan.

Toyota was targeting a mere 500 sales a month, but in less than a month since the July 14 launch in Japan, over 9,000 orders had been placed. 

The appeal makes sense -- the Lexus HS 250h features a somewhat more conventional layout than most other hybrids such as the Honda Insight or Toyota Prius.  At $34,200 base MSRP it's expensive, but not wallet breaking for many professionals.  And thanks to Japan's hybrid subsidy (similar to cash-for-clunkers), which expires March 31, 2010, the car's price is even more reachable.  The car gets a modest 35 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway -- making it the most fuel efficient Lexus currently on sale.  It also features ultra-low emissions, receiving the distinction of being classed as a Super-Ultra-Low-Emission-Vehicle (SULEV) in Japan. 

The HS 250h comes standard with a leather interior, Bluetooth, moonroof, active front head restraints, vehicle stability control, and ten airbags.  There are plenty of tempting optional perks too, including LED headlights, Lexus' Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Hard Disk Drive Navigation System, and an LED-based Heads-up Display (HUD).

In response to the high demand, Toyota is boosting production of the vehicle.  Currently it has only produced around 2,000 vehicles, leaving about 7,000 orders unfilled.  It plans to triple production by October in an effort to keep up with demand.

Toyota is undoubtedly eagerly awaiting the August or September targeted U.S. release of the vehicle.  The Lexus brand remains one of the most well-respected brands among luxury car buying circles in the U.S.  And with its eco-friendly image, reasonable price point, and abundance of advanced features, the Lexus HS 250h just might surpass some sales predictions in the U.S., as well.

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On my short list
By Parhel on 8/11/2009 1:50:17 PM , Rating: 5
I'll definitely be test driving one of these in the near future. I've just passed 100,000 miles on my car, and one of the main reasons I'm still in it is that I don't want to give up the Heads Up Display. It sounds like a gimmick until you've used one for a while. Hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit.

RE: On my short list
By artemicion on 8/11/2009 2:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
Is there an image of the HUD in action on the internet anywhere? I'm kinda interested in how the LED HUD looks.

It's not really a big deal if it just shows MPH and other information that's already on the dash, but radio/ipod display, or cellphone info (if cellphones can sync through the car's bluetooth) would be cool.

I wonder how well people can text while driving if the HUD displayed txts and there was a keyboard on the steering wheel. (It could be a disaster, I know).

RE: On my short list
By Parhel on 8/12/2009 12:21:16 AM , Rating: 2
The HUD on my car (2002 Pontiac Grand Prix) looks like this:

Other than speed, it shows your CD track number / radio station when it changes.

There are screenshots of the HUD on the Lexus RX at this site:

I'm guessing it's the same unit . . .

It's not really a big deal if it just shows MPH and other information that's already on the dash

Believe me, everyone says that at first but if you used it for even a week you'd be a believer. It really helps you to keep your eyes on the road.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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