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Weidel on Wheels: Lexus goes green-only with sedan

HS 250h offers a quiet interior and solid performance
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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One always has heightened expectations when the vehicle being delivered happens to be a Lexus. While Toyota’s luxury division isn’t known for its extravagant exteriors, the Japanese auto manufacturer always seems to hit the mark for producing a very classy look. Unseen prior to delivery, it was a bit surprising to take a first glance at the 2010 Lexus HS 250h. First thought — where’s the Lexus? Frankly, the exterior styling is very bland. This year’s new addition to the Lexus lineup is a five-passenger, compact sedan that is smaller than a Toyota Camry, yet larger than a Corolla. And if you hadn’t guessed already, the “H” stands for hybrid. While Toyota has the popular Prius and several other gas/electric models, this is the first foray into hybrid-only territory for Lexus — there is no gas-only form of this model. OK, so the 250h didn’t pass the looks test. It does deliver in plenty of other meaningful areas. Like other Lexus models, this one offers a smooth ride that is also devoid of practically any noise. The 250h has a specialized platform that is not shared with any other Toyota or Lexus hybrid. Although not responsive immediately upon stepping on the gas pedal for acceleration, overall the 250h has solid performance. It also features the high-tech qualities that are commonly associated with a Lexus, and provides a sizable list of standard features and strong safety qualities. The 250h is a hybrid, so naturally gas mileage is a frequently asked question. Estimated at 35 miles per gallon around town and 34 mpg on the freeway, the 250h falls short in that category, especially when compared to the Prius, which delivers an estimated 50 mpg on average. But keep in mind that the 34 to 35 mpg is still superior to many non-hybrid compact and subcompact economy cars. Naturally the price tag for the 250H is much higher as well, starting at $34,650. The 250h is powered by a 2.4-liter, inline-four cylinder engine that provides 187 horsepower. It’s been clocked going 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, which is pretty darn quick for a hybrid sedan. One has to be patient for the passing power to kick in, but once it does there’s no problem maintaining the desired speed. The interior is smartly laid out and even though the controls are high tech, the operation doesn’t require poking you’re head into the manual to figure things out. Comfortable seating is another strong point for front seat passengers, while the back seat is fairly good overall, and the trunk space is both wide and tall. 2010 Lexus HS 250 Hybrid Price: $34,650 Power: 2.4-liter, inline-four cylinder engine with 187 horsepower Mileage estimate: 34 mpg city; 35 mpg highway Standard features include: Foglights; sunroof; keyless ignition/entry; leather upholstery; 10-way driver, eight-way passenger seats; tilt-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; dual-zone climate control; 10-speaker audio system, six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary/USB/iPod connections, bluetooth; brake assist; stability and traction control; 10 airbags