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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“Shares a powertrain with the Toyota Camry hybrid”
“Floor the throttle from a stop and it takes about 20 feet before real power arrives”
“Ride is well-damped, and the response of the brake pedal is linear”
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h’s overall performance is pretty bland and, well, Lexus-like. While it doesn’t offer anywhere near the fuel economy of the Toyota Prius, the HS 250h is somewhat more engaging to drive.
Due to the extra weight of the Lexus HS 250h’s luxury features, the standard Prius powertrain is deemed insufficient for this new Lexus hybrid. Although the 2010 Lexus HS 250h looks somewhat similar to the Prius, Popular Mechanics points out it “shares a powertrain with the Toyota Camry hybrid,” an “Atkinson-cycle 2.4-liter four-cylinder [that] is linked to a 40 hp electric motor.” Overall power levels are adequate, and Car and Driver reports that the HS 250h has a total “system output of 187 hp,” enough to get “the 3740-pound HS 250h to 60 mph [in] 8.4 seconds, which is 1.4 seconds faster than the last Prius” they tested. Still, it’s far from a sports car, and ConsumerGuide says that if you floor it from a stop, “it takes about 20 feet before real power arrives.” For drivers seeking a more spirited driving experience, Car and Driver observes that the Lexus HS 250h offers an “eco” mode that “accelerates battery recharging and retards throttle response,” while a “power mode does the opposite,” and there’s “a canyon of difference between the two modes.”
Like most fuel economy-oriented vehicles, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h comes exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Jalopnik says is “backed up with heavy duty aerodynamic optimization and driver assistance tools” in order to offer peak fuel economy. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com don’t contain many positive words regarding the CVT; Edmunds claims it gives you “lots of furiousness, but not much speed,” since “that’s what you get with a CVT” in nearly every application.
The CVT might be a hassle to live with on a daily basis, but it does return respectable fuel economy for a hybrid sedan. According to the official EPA estimates, the Lexus HS 250h should get 35 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which Car and Driver points out “doesn’t even come close to the Prius’s 51/48 figures.” However, Jalopnik reviewers consider the EPA test “really pessimistic,” and in one of their tests, an editor “managed an astounding 57.9 MPG” with the Eco mode engaged. TheCarConnection.com’s editors saw fuel economy at best in the mid-40 mpg range during their test drives.
Out on the road, reviewers find that the 2010 Lexus HS 250h has better performance characteristics than the Toyota Prius, but there’s still not much to be had from pushing the car hard. Car and Driver reports that “road feel is pretty much zero, even with the optional 18-inch wheels,” and Popular Mechanics agrees that “the driver and the machine do not meld into one seamless unit.” Jalopnik, however, says, “The car is actually not a total dud…handling corners in a way we didn’t think a hybrid could” and offering a ride that “delivers the comfort Lexus is known for, but it’s definitely not fall-asleep soft.” ConsumerGuide adds that the HS 250h “wasn’t tuned for a plush ride,” but it does offer a “firm and controlled” ride. Many hybrids suffer from a jerky brake pedal thanks to their regenerative braking characteristics, but Automobile Magazine remarks that “the response of the brake pedal is linear and free of any sign that the computers are continually switching between regenerative and friction braking.”
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h rides and drives like a Lexus in most respects, but it can’t come close to matching the most fuel-efficient hybrids on the market in terms of efficiency.