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2010 Lexus HS 250h hybrid

The "Fairy Stick" -- one of the smallest, ugliest automatic shift sticks you've ever seen.
We take a week long tour in Lexus' entry-level luxury hybrid

In past weeks we looked at our test-drive experiences with the 2010 Toyota Prius (third generation) and the 2010 Lexus RX 450h (hybrid SUV).  Our most recent test-drive acquisition has been the Lexus HS 250h.  We took it out for a week long adventure and have formulated our thoughts on it.

First, let's look at the vehicle itself and why it's been such a hot seller in Japan and promises to be an equally great sales success in the U.S.  The 2010 Lexus HS 250h (HS stands for "harmonious sedan", a very Japanese title) starts at $34,200 – typical for an entry-level sedan from a tier 1 luxury brand.  This is relative bargain compared to other Lexus luxury hybrid sedans -- the 2010 Lexus GS 450h, priced at $56,550 and the 2009 Lexus LS 600h, priced at $106,035.

For your money, the Lexus HS gives you some attractive luxury and eco-friendly features -- Smart Access, push button start/stop, a HomeLink universal transceiver (can accomplish functions like closing your garage door), UV-reduction windshield glass, bioplastics (from sources including kenaf fibers and castor seeds), an OLED gauge cluster, a 10-speaker premium sound system, XM radio, LED taillamps and more.  LED headlamps, a backup camera, and a navigation system are all optional packages/features.

From a performance perspective, the sedan has 187 net horsepower (from a 2.4L 2AZ-FXE inline-four engine and a 40 hp electric motor).  This compares comes favorably to the Toyota Prius (134 hp combined, via electric motor and 1.8L engine).  0-60 mph acceleration for the small four-door is around  8 seconds.  Meanwhile, the sedan's fuel economy of 34 mpg (combined)  stacks up between the Prius's industry-leading 50 mpg combined fuel economy and the Lexus LS/GS's not so great fuel economies (21/23.5 mpg, respectively).

Driving the Lexus HS, the first thing that popped out was a bit of a negative -- one of only a handful that marred the experience.  The car has one of the smallest automatic shifter sticks that we've seen.  We've seen small knobs, but this thing was tiny -- nearing the size and average thickness of a human thumb (though a bit wider at its crest).  In fact, we dubbed it the "fairy stick" due to its diminutive size.  This stick marred the car's look -- we're not quite sure what the designers were thinking.  Fortunately, the situations in which you have to interact with the unsightly little stick were limited.

Otherwise the seats were comfortable (bioplastics and all) and our model came with the LED headlamps, which were very bright and clear.  Our vehicle also came with the navigation package, and the display was bright enough to be easily read.

In terms of on road performance, we averaged 36 mpg over 345 miles, slightly better than the EPA estimates.  While not as efficient as the Prius, this meant that we still weren't on empty even after a long week of driving.  The disc brakes were extremely responsive and not overly jumpy -- regenerative braking is usually a low-point with hybrids.  Acceleration was smooth, but is largely a matter of perception.  Moving up from the Prius, it will feel powerful, but for those who have experienced the LS/GS hybrids, it feels underpowered (but that sacrifice seems worth it, to us, as the fuel economy is significantly improved).  NVH is very low -- inside the cabin is quite quiet.  The car absorbed potholes on a poorly maintained Detroit street with aplomb, offering minimal jostle to the passenger.

Overall the sedan seemed a relatively good value for its price.  A couple more minor complaints were the "feature" auto-dimming mirrors.  For those easily distracted, they may be a good idea, by minimizing incidental glare.  However, for those with good vision, they prove to be a headache as it's hard to see vehicles at night in them, particularly those with dim headlights.  We'd rather deal with a bit of glare and retain the ability to actually see what's coming at us.  Perhaps a future implementation can fix these problems. 

Our other minor gripe was that the remote unlock on the trunk did not seem to work (it could have just been our unit) and the trunk seemed (in general) hard to open.  These detractions considered, we still enjoyed our time with the vehicle and felt that it's definitely something for entry-level luxury buyers to consider.

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Mixed feelings
By mdogs444 on 12/2/2009 8:35:18 AM , Rating: 4
The specs on the car don't really seem to be all that bad, considering the 0-60 time. But I can't see paying $35k-$40k on a decked out Corolla. The Acura TSX looks 100x better than this, IMO, although its really nothing more than a decked out Civic SI or so it seems.

I'm all for anyone driving anything they want to, considering I drive two new gas guzzlers (Expedition and F-150 4door) and I am usually in them by myself with minimal need for the storage space. But I just don't understand the $35k-$40k hybrids. I mean, are they really just a "feel good" thing? I don't see anyone spending $40k on a car really needing to worry about getting that extra 5 or 6 miles per gallon. Or are they buying the car because they really like the new technology, or have some sort of "green" conscious they are worried about?

Overall it looks like an okay car, but I would much rather seem it resembling an IS250 than a Corolla....again, just my opinion.

RE: Mixed feelings
By mdogs444 on 12/2/2009 8:37:25 AM , Rating: 2
BTW, a ton more pictures and specs here:

RE: Mixed feelings
By Chaser on 12/2/2009 9:02:14 AM , Rating: 3
I don't have a problem if someone has the money to spend more on a hybrid. Even people that are "rich" like the idea in concept that they are less chained to the gas pump.

But 35K? An Acura TL is one of the best values in a car at that price range. Well very appointed with cutting edge gadgetry.

Yeah in this case I don't think this car will be the resounding success as it is in Japan. Gas is reasonable now so most Americans at 35K+ will take their Prius green snob cap off for the better deal.

RE: Mixed feelings
By Spuke on 12/2/2009 1:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah in this case I don't think this car will be the resounding success as it is in Japan.
I don't think it will be much of a success here either. People concerned with fuel economy will just buy the Prius with its 50 mpg and load up the options. I'm sure someone will want a "luxury" hybrid but a loaded Camry Hybrid (33/34) will offer more room and similar appointments with nearly the same fuel mileage (35/34 for the HS) for less money.

Honestly, if I were in this market, I would prefer the Ford Fusion Hybrid instead. You get better mileage (41/36), a bit more features and the option of running on all battery power up to 47 mph.

RE: Mixed feelings
By Omega215D on 12/2/2009 11:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have a Scion tC.

RE: Mixed feelings
By Samus on 12/3/2009 2:07:50 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, the front end is a complete cosmetic rip-off of the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Which isn't good.

By btc909 on 12/2/2009 9:10:20 AM , Rating: 2
That auto dimming rear view mirror, put a piece of black electrical tape over the sensor.

This isn't based on a Corolla, it is based on a Sai.

You can get a loaded Camry Hybrid for the low 30's.

RE: Lexus
By Drag0nFire on 12/2/2009 9:47:44 AM , Rating: 2
Won't it always be dim if you do that?

RE: Lexus
By Alexstarfire on 12/2/2009 10:03:32 AM , Rating: 2
No, cause light is what makes it dim, not darkness.

RE: Lexus
By ElFenix on 12/2/2009 12:49:10 PM , Rating: 3
the car shares platforms with the prius and corolla.

By fbrdphreak on 12/2/2009 10:45:54 AM , Rating: 2
I know this is a new area for DT and it will grow over time, or it will be discontinued, but I got very little helpful information out of this review. There is one paragraph describing what it was like to actually drive the car, and the rest was listing its features. I think if the DT audience wants car reviews, they want more in-depth reviews that cover all aspects of the vehicle. If you're trying to attract a new audience to DT, what value do you add to the auto review landscape with this current format? I'd argue none.

RE: Meh
By Spivonious on 12/2/2009 12:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
To add to this, I'd like more concentration on the "tech" of the car, or no car reviews at all.

RE: Meh
By The0ne on 12/2/2009 1:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
Arguments have gone back and forth whether DT is a blog, news or review site. Most people are confused between the three so I don't expect much. Some are even using them interchangeably which is wrong to begin with.

To me this is a blog with a bit of news and review thrown in. It's more of a blog than news or review since the two latter always seem to be lacking. Sometimes, blogs are taken directly from the sources and reposted as something new...shrug. whatever works I guess.

Looks like Ford Fusion/Taurus SHO
By aguilpa1 on 12/2/2009 9:32:23 AM , Rating: 3
Thats a first.

Please test an Audi A3 TDI
By Fenixgoon on 12/2/2009 7:50:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be interested in what you have to say about that. About the same price as the HS250

This car is FAIL
By corduroygt on 12/3/2009 12:33:45 AM , Rating: 2
Less practicality, less mpg and more expensive than a Prius, a loaded Prius has most if not all of the features this car has.
Less room, less mpg, lower performance and more expensive than a Fusion Hybrid.

I guess this is for people who MUST have a Lexus and a hybrid at the lowest price possible, me, I'd go for the IS350 if I'm shelling 40k.

By etrading59 on 12/7/2009 7:44:30 AM , Rating: 2
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Christmas sales, there are exquisite gift, here are the most fashionable and most noble gift, please come to order.For details, please consult:


They let DT review cars? Srsly??
By domg on 12/2/09, Rating: -1
RE: They let DT review cars? Srsly??
By WW102 on 12/2/2009 10:21:28 AM , Rating: 3
I thought it was pretty funny to read that the first thing that "popped out" in your experience was the decidedly most phallic fixture in the vehicle. So you prefer a thicker shaft eh? I guess the small shifter must be an Asian thing...

Yet you are the one who turned it into something gay?

By MrBlastman on 12/2/2009 11:33:02 AM , Rating: 2
a. Who gives a darn if Jason lives in a Condo/Apartment/Penthouse/Mansion?

I thought it was pretty funny to read that the first thing that "popped out" in your experience was the decidedly most phallic fixture in the vehicle. So you prefer a thicker shaft eh? I guess the small shifter must be an Asian thing...

b. So I guess you're asian?

c. What is your fascination with him?

By corduroygt on 12/3/2009 12:30:38 AM , Rating: 1
Why don't you make a better website then DT, then maybe they'll give you a car to test drive as well?

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