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2011 Lexus HS 250h Performance

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The hybrid powertrain in the 2011 Lexus HS 250h is essentially what's tried and true from the Toyota Prius (and Camry Hybrid); it's a version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, here combining a 147-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine with a 40-horsepower electric motor system to produce 187 horsepower altogether. A power control unit manages to recharge the battery while decelerating or braking, or to deliver an electric assist when accelerating.

The HS 250h doesn't feel like a performance car, or even particularly perky, but it's not sluggish either—especially if you select 'power' mode rather than the rubber-band-like 'eco' mode. Thanks to the gasoline engine's torquey response, coupled with the electric motor's instant torque, the HS feels reactive in the 20-to-60-mph range and cruises at higher speeds more confidently than the Prius; the dash to 60 mph takes 8.4 seconds, according to Lexus, which makes it faster than most four-cylinder compact and mid-size sedans but slower than most luxury ones.

The rest of the driving experience is safe but uninspiring. The electric-assist steering has a rather quick ratio and reasonably good weighting, but soft suspension tuning means there's plenty of lean (and nosedive when braking); overall the HS handles in an unexciting but safe way. A Touring Package includes sport suspension tuning and 18-inch alloys, firming up responses somewhat. Braking is isn't reassuring in feel, but the HS 250h stops predictably and without a hitch.

The 2011 Lexus HS 250h has performance that's pretty bland, but adequate and safe.

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