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2011 Lexus HS 250h Comfort & Quality

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The Achilles' heel of the HS 250h is its rather low roofline, clashing with the odd, scooped-up seating arrangement. The sedan is a little short on headroom in front and very short in back. Compounding the matter is that, in front, the seats are mounted quite high—with the center stack's sharp edges against the driver's leg all the time; and tall drivers can't lower the seat enough. In the backseat, the HS doesn't feel nearly as roomy as a Camry—or even a Corolla—due to the restricted headroom, and three adults isn't really a possibility as they'd be jockeying shoulders. Materials inside are luxurious, even though the HS 250h has 30 percent of its interior materials derived from plant-based sources; but the overall impression is upscale, not opulent.

Trunk space in the HS 250h is impressive; official capacity is 12.1 cubic feet, but it somehow feels larger. For those who keep track in terms of golf bags, the HS will fit four of them. But those who expect a little more versatility will be disappointed; the HS lacks folding backseats—or even a pass-through—because of battery placement. Seating aside, the interior layout is smart, though, with a big console box and other smaller bins both included.

The 2011 Lexus HS 250h is otherwise tight and quiet inside, thanks to details like an acoustic windshield and triple-layer door seals. But there's a down side here, too: Engine noise is much more present than some buyers will expect in a Lexus. It's when you need any quick burst of power, or if you're just more of a leadfoot, that you'll find way too much engine noise. Although there's never any discernible vibration in the cabin, it's loud, and out of place from any luxury marque that has had the word 'perfection' in its slogan.

The 2011 Lexus HS 250h has a refined cabin feel, but it comes up short with a lack of interior space and a powertrain that's too raucous for Lexus.

Overall, the HS 250h has neither the firm, measured handling response of the IS 350 and IS 250 sport sedans nor the pillowy ride comfort of the Lexus ES 350. The ride feels somewhat firm and busy, but pitch it into a tight corner and you get lots of lean; additionally there's an element of bounciness over railroad tracks and particularly rough surfaces, and there's more road noise over rough pavement in the HS than we've experienced in any other Lexus product.

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