2009 Detroit Auto Show: Lexus Shows 2010 HS250h Hybrid Sedan
By Chris Haak
This morning in Detroit, Lexus revealed its HS250h hybrid entry-luxury sedan. The HS is the only Lexus that is available with only a hybrid drivetrain, and the car is front wheel drive and slots in size between the IS and ES models. According to Lexus, not only with the HS be the most fuel-efficient model in the Lexus lineup, but is also expected to top the diminutive smart fortwo in city fuel economy.
The HS features a 187-horsepower 2.4 liter Atkinson-cycle four cylinder, in addition to the hybrid drivetrain. Further, the HS is equipped with an exhaust-heat recovery system to speed engine warmup and improve fuel economy.
Ten airbags – more than other cars in its class – are standard, and other safety features include available Lane-keep assist, which utilizes the HS’ electric power steering system to correct lane departures automatically. The HS also includes Lexus’ next-generation telematics service, called Lexus Enform and SafetyConnect. SafetyConnect provides automatic collision notification, a stolen vehicle locator service, and emergency roadside assistance. Lexus Enform offers services similar to GM’s OnStar Service such as the ability to enter destination information via the Internet and send them to the car’s navigation system.
Luxury touches include ten-way power seats, a moonroof, premium audio systems, and an available navigation screen. The navigation screen is set high and near to the windshield to keep the display as close to the driver’s line of sight as possible, but this positioning makes the use of a touchscreen interface impossible, so the HS includes a mouse-like (or, if you prefer, and iDrive-like) interface that falls right to the driver’s right hand.
Lexus’ new multimedia package is standard in the HS; this package includes improved Bluetooth, satellite radio, voice recognition, and a USB iPod connector. HSs equipped with the optional navigation system include XM NavTraffic and NavWeather services. Other technology features include Lexus’ 190-degree front view monitor that utilizes a camera in the grille so that the driver can easily check hard-to-see blind spots.
In a nod to the environmental sensitivity that many hybrid buyers have, 85% of the HS can be recycled, and 30% of the interior and cargo area utilize eco plastics made from plant-based materials.
The car goes on sale later this summer. There was no pricing information released, but since the car slots between the IS and ES, I expect that it will be priced similarly to those two models, if not below them.
The car isn’t bad looking; the interior appears to be more or less on par with the interior in other vehicles in the entry-luxury class, but the fact that it’s a four cylinder engine under the hood, in spite of all of the extensive work that Lexus has done on the car to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness, will probably still not reward its owners with the level of a premium experience that they might be expecting. Still, for wealthier environmentalists who are concerned about the not-exactly-green credentials of some of Lexus’ other hybrid offerings such as the LS600hL, the HS250h may be just the ticket.
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