Green-minded drivers who have the greenbacks for a hybrid car with a luxury pedigree ought to take a look at the 2011 Lexus HS 250h.
Lexus says this sedan is its promise of “sustainable luxury” for the buyer who wants the full luxury experience of Lexus, wrapped in a soundproof quiet car. This Lexus shrinks its impact on the planet with the use of ecological plastics and a heat recovery system that minimizes parasitic gas losses into the environment.
The 2011 HS 250 h features the Lexus Hybrid Drive paired to a four-cylinder engine that produces 141 horsepower and 138 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine runs on regular octane gasoline, earning an EPA fuel economy rating of 35 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway.
The engine/electric motor hybrid system is linked to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Lexus incorporates a Four-Mode drive selection option so the driver can take control on the impact of the hybrid’s output. The owner can choose to drive in Normal, Power, Eco and EV.
Normal mode is for basic, linear driving from point A to point B. The Power mode is for more responsive handling. The Eco mode really maximizes the fuel economy by reducing the flow of air conditioning and the accelerator’s response. The EV mode is all-electric driving in short distance only circumstances. All of this takes place in an extremely quiet car. This is Lexus’ forte.
The automaker is well-known for isolating engine, vibration and road noise from the passenger cabin and Lexus engineers do this expertly in the HS 250 h, too. There were times during my time behind the wheel that I wondered if the car had shut off. No, it hadn’t. It was the Lexus Hybrid Drive system smartly switching over from I-4 gas mode to the electric motor mode, and doing this so seamlessly without driver intervention that I thought the car had died. That’s how quiet this Lexus is.
The HS 250 h is a front-wheel-drive sedan that seats four passengers comfortably, five in a squeeze.
Pricing for the HS 250 h starts at $35,100 for the Standard trim and $37,870 for the Premium model. The luxury hybrid comes equipped with 10-way power driver’s seat, eight-way power front passenger seat, leather-trimmed seating, dual-climate control and 10-speaker sound system. A floating center console stack gives the HS an outer space command module personality.
A full array of luxury is available on the 2011 HS 250 h, such as Lexus navigation with Bluetooth, back-up camera, and Lane Keep Assist. I liked the Remote Touch controller. Mounted onto the floating center console where your arm can conveniently rest, the controller works much like your home computer mouse, allowing you to click/enter commands for radio stations and all other screen controls.
Exterior design development was purposeful in building the HS 250 h. Styling cues that went into this hybrid were done to keep the physical footprint of the car in line with the philosophy of sustainable luxury. In the front, Lexus says the low nose encourages airflow and helps with vehicle dynamics. All aerodynamic design efforts resulted in a coefficient of drag of 0.27.
Bioplastic materials (derived from plant sources) are used in about 30 percent of the truck and interior, such as upholstery and other interior components. It shows that Lexus is a forward-thinking hybrid carmaker. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters
Next Bonus Wheels: 2011 Hyundai Tucson
2011 LESUX HS 250 h
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD compact sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $37,870 (as tested: $44,967)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve I-4 and hybrid electric motors
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 141 at 6000 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 138 at 4400 rpm
WHEELBASE____________________ 106.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 184.8 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 37.4 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 14.5 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 35 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010