The Lexus HS 250h is a hybrid luxury compact sedan which many people have dubbed Lexus’s answer to the Prius. While it boasts a similar chassis shape and is in the Prius’s class, it is its own car. The 2011 model is unchanged from the 2010 model, so the reviews below cover both years. Let’s see what folks are saying about it.
Edmunds says that the HS 250h “truly deliver[s] admirable fuel economy numbers,” as well as “all of the luxury trappings you’d expect from a Lexus.”
The reviewer also says it offers “significantly better performance than a Prius.” Edmunds calls it “quick,” as it accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. The downside, they say, is that fuel economy is 35 MPG, which doesn’t touch Prius’s 50 MPG.
The drivetrain is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 that works in concert with two electric motor/generators, producing 187 horsepower. Edmunds assessment is that this car “won’t impress spirited drivers as much as frugal owners.” They add “Transitions between gasoline and electric propulsion are seamless and smooth, though throttle response is a bit leisurely.”
Edmunds says the HS 250h is “loaded” with luxury features, including “the fine leather surfaces and wood trim that you’d expect in any Lexus.” The review says that the interior has “impeccable fit and finish.” They also note the car’s noiseless ride and strong performance in safety testing.
Car and Driver says “Think of it as the Prius of Lexuses or the Lexus of Priuses.” In comparing the two vehicles, C&D notes that the HS250h is 1.4 seconds faster than the Prius, thanks to the more powerful engine, but “pays the piper” in fuel economy.
Making more comparisons, C&D says “The Prius and the HS250h feel virtually identical from behind the electrically assisted steering wheel… Road feel is pretty much zero.” They call the steering response “direct and reasonably quick,” and add that “the interior sound quality isn’t exactly up to the traditional Lexus-isolationist level.” They say that the engine and transmission make a conspicuous “mooing” sound when accelerating, which they did not care for.
The HS 250h features “Power” and ”Eco” driving modes, of which C&D say: “We noticed a canyon of difference between the two modes and a commensurate difference between the resulting fuel economy, as well. Employing our best hypermiling techniques in Eco mode for many miles, we eked the HS250 to over 42 mpg… In Power mode, we enjoyed crisper acceleration, of course, but had a hard time getting mileage anywhere above the high 20s.”
C&D gives this car passing marks for tons of luxury accoutrements, but they say that “dynamically, the HS250h leaves a lot to be desired.”
Final word? “We’d rather have a Prius.”
MotorTrend says that, while the HS 250h borrows greatly from other models, that it is “a dedicated hybrid platform.” They say that the HS 250h “is about maximum efficiency with minimal environmental impact.”
About the center stack bevy of controls and displays, MotorTrend says “This system is so easy to use it makes most other central controller designs look silly.”
They call the interior a “comfy enough place,” with “good” amounts of space. They go on to say “The materials choices aren’t as dazzling as they are in upper-crust Lexus models, but everything is of high quality and fits together nicely.”
Describing driving this car, they say “ ‘Efficient’? Yes. ‘Soothing’? Maybe. ‘Luxurious’? Mostly. ‘Exciting’? No.” They fault the car’s attention to efficiency leading to more driving noise than you’d normally get from a Lexus. The steering, MotorTrend says has “more feel and response” than a Prius, but the brakes feel “wooden and nonlinear.” It handles “well enough” and rides “comfortably.”
MotorTrend concludes that if “you value mph over mpg and redlines above green ones, there are many more compelling choices in this price range.”
The HS 250h’s design “doesn’t really stand out the way the Prius’s does,” Automobile says. “It’s a rather ordinary-looking compact sedan with vague Corolla overtones and a big chrome grille.”
They call the fuel economy “very impressive.” The reviewer says that “the advertised fuel economy numbers are entirely credible. According to the dashboard readout, I was able to surpass both figures without resorting to any hyper-miling tricks, but I also sometimes fell well short when driving in hilly terrain and accelerating hard.”
Automobile also noticed the “un-Lexus-like engine drone.” They said that “in highway cruising the engine is quieter, but you can feel it just a bit as the system alternates between battery pack assist and charging — it’s a sensation sort of like driving into a gusty headwind.”
The reviewer liked the steering enough and said the suspension wasn’t “complete mush,” though the ride isn’t as “plush” as a traditional Lexus.
The interior does “live up to Lexus standards.” The reviewer praised the interior space, calling it a “surprising amount.” According to Automobile it “bristles with available equipment” and the center stack console was adequate.
Automobile concludes: “Despite the plethora of equipment and the plush interior, the HS250h driving experience isn’t quite on par with the other Lexus models, but its 35 mpg city rating is tops among luxury-brand rides.”