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Enform Infotainment Features Launch In 2010 Lexus HS 250h

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2010 Lexus HS 250h

2010 Lexus HS 250h

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Yesterday TheCarConnection.com brought you a first drive of the new 2010 Lexus HS 250h hybrid. To give you a brief recap, we’re positively impressed but not completely thrilled with the HS. The exterior styling is a little awkward, and its interior and cargo space feel a bit more restricted than in the Prius. And the HS performs well enough to meet most expectations, with fuel economy in the 30s, but it’s by no means a performance car.

With that middling impression, you might wonder, what is really to like about the HS? Well, it has a safety-feature mother lode, with a class-leading ten airbags, and it’s a gadget geek’s dream.

One of these gadgets is Enform, which makes its debut when the Lexus HS 250h goes on sale late this summer, though the feature will soon be rolled out for the entire Lexus line (except the SC 430).

Lexus Enform - 2010 Lexus HS 250h

Lexus Enform - 2010 Lexus HS 250h

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All HS 250h models get the Safety Connect system, which uses cellphone technology and GPS transceivers to provide Automatic Crash Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, emergency assistance (through an SOS button), and Roadside Assistance services. Call-center assistance is available 24 hours, and the system aids roadside assistance by providing exact GPS coordinates.

With the optional navigation system, the HS 250h is upgraded with Lexus Enform, bringing enhanced hardware and software plus a suite of subscription-based services. Destination Assist allows you to hit a button and get live operator assistance; after confirmation of the destination, the operator can transmit the destination to the navigation system, allowing a simple one-button confirmation to activate route assistance there. There’s no limit on the number of requests you can make as part of the service. eDestination is the other side of the route-assistance features; it allows you to log in to a Web site, enter and store addresses, and send them directly to your vehicle’s nav system.

HS models with the nav system also get the Remote Touch controller, a smooth trackball controller with a sci-fi appearance and cool blue glow, to make menu selections. With the upgrade comes XM NavTraffic, which provides live traffic updates and rerouting; XM NavWeather; and XM Sports & Stocks, which will show personalized information on command. What’s more, there’s a new text-to-speech system—employing technology from Bellevue, Washington–based VoiceBox—quite smoothly reads out any of the sports, finance, or weather info. Its manner is less jittery and robotic, from what we remember, than the Sync system in Ford (Lincoln) vehicles.

Lexus Enform - 2010 Lexus HS 250h

Lexus Enform - 2010 Lexus HS 250h

Enlarge Photo

Another feature that stands out in the HS 250h is the new version of Lexus’ voice-recognition system, which now accepts informal language such as “Make it cooler,” without having to go through successive menus like “climate,” “temperature,” “67 degrees.” All the details, including XM Satellite Radio channels, are already programmed into the command system. Overall, it should prove far less distracting—and people will actually use it!

Lexus Insider is yet another all-new service, as part of Enform, that delivers in-vehicle text or audio programs, articles, or clips. These are delivered in digital form via the cell network, and might cover Lexus events, vehicle technology. From Enform’s Information menu, it’s simply a matter of selecting the Insider, and a list of available programs will display; from there you can delete some and choose others to listen to, or put them aside for later. This system has the potential to be abused as a marketing tool, so the company is putting strict limits on how it can be used, but the service is especially promising as it leaves the option open for Lexus to use some kind of feed delivery service—perhaps enabling users to subscribe to podcasts with a future upgrade.


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