On sale since August 2009, the Lexus HS 250h was the brand’s first dedicated hybrid model. A second, the CT 200h, launches later in 2010 in the compact car space. Being a luxury marque and with a conventional sedan shape prepped to play in the very heart of the car market (mid-size sedans), the HS 250h evolved a 187HP hybrid system from the Camry Hybrid and its 2.4L I4 rather than using that of the smaller Toyota Prius (136HP, 1.8L).
What that means for the HS 250h is a few more ponies under the hood (187HP net power versus 134HP of the Prius), and fuel economy a little less impressive than Pruis’s 51/48 city/highway mpg. The HS 250h boasts 35/34 city/highway, though the extra HP is welcome.
Until the 2011 CT 200h arrives, the $36,000 HS 250h is the least expensive Lexus hybrid. No doubt a well-thought-out piece of engineering, the HS 250h incorporates lessons learned from prior Lexus and Toyota hybrids. One example is the exhaust heat recovery system of the RX 450h, which keeps the engine and cabin warmer and allowing for more “stop” time at low speeds. The HS 250h’s fuel economy stacks up reasonably well against other conventionally motivated sedans of its size, but not against some current and upcoming hybrid sedans.