Premium compact car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $25,800 – $37,000*


2010 Lexus HS 250h front


2010 Lexus HS 250h rear


2010 Lexus HS 250h interior

Pros:
  • Around-town throttle response
  • Control layout
  • Fuel economy
  • Quietness at cruise
Cons:
  • Low-speed acceleration
  • Cargo room
  • Noise under acceleration/deceleration

HS 250h works well and is a nice enough car to drive every day. The hybrid system, which should be its trump card, delivers what we consider mediocre fuel economy. Toyota’s own Prius offers far superior gas mileage and could be equipped nearly as lavishly, all for much less money. In the end, HS is little more than a highly gilded small Toyota that’s overpriced for what it delivers.

Overview

Toyota and its Lexus luxury division have issued a variety of hybrid vehicles, and the Lexus HS 250h was the newest example. Introduced for 2010, this gas/electric hybrid compact car was a five-passenger, front-wheel-drive four-door sedan that teamed a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 187 horsepower (total). That combination mated with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which behaved much like an automatic. To balance acceleration and fuel economy, Lexus’ hybrid system allowed the HS 250h to run on one or both of its power sources. No plug-in charging was ever required. Standard safety features included antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, front- and rear-side airbags, and front knee airbags. Base and Premium trim levels were offered. Leather upholstery was standard on all models. Heated front seats were optional on the Base model, while heated and ventilated front seats were standard on the Premium. Available features included a wireless cell-phone link, a navigation system with rearview camera, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, auto-dimming headlights, and keyless entry/engine start. Also offered was a wide-view front camera that showed the view to the sides when pulling out from between two cars, a lane-departure warning system that alerted the driver and could correct the vehicle’s path if it drifted out of its lane, and Lexus’ new Enform system with Safety Connect–an assistance system with convenience, safety, security, and emergency-response features. Potential competitors included the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, BMW’s 335d diesel sedan, and the conventional gasoline-engine Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Yearly Updates

2011 HS 250h
Except for available body colors, the HS 250h was largely unchanged for its second season on the market.
2012 HS 250h
There were no noteworthy changes to the Lexus HS 250h for 2012.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Like the related Toyota Prius, the HS 250h has a four-cylinder gasoline engine that works in tandem with an electric motor, mating with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. But the Lexus engine is larger, at 2.4 liters, with output of 147 horsepower. Total output (gasoline engine and hybrid drive combined) is 187 horsepower.

dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 187
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 138
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic

35/34

34.5

Road Test

Acceleration has its limits. Floor the throttle from a stop, and it takes about 20 feet before real power arrives. Particularly in “Power” mode, throttle response at any speed above a crawl is nearly instant if not particularly strong, making the HS feel lively in around-town traffic. Lexus has claimed a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 8.4 seconds, which seems a bit optimistic based on our test drives. Performance is fine for normal driving, though highway merging and passing power is limited. Transitions between the gas engine and the electric motor aren’t obtrusive, but they are no smoother than in Toyota’s own Prius.

Fuel economy, as expected, falls short of outstanding for a hybrid–not nearly as thrifty as Toyota’s Prius. In Consumer Guide testing, we averaged 34.4 to 34.6 mpg. HS 250h uses regular-grade gas.

Ride quality depends on the model. More so with the Premium than the Base, HS isn’t tuned for a plush ride. Instead, it’s firm and controlled over most bumps, transmitting some abrupt reactions over the sharper ones–particularly on Premium models.

Body lean is well controlled in fast turns. Steering feels somewhat dead and slow on-center and lacks road feel, but it is light for good low-speed maneuverability.

Road and tire noise overcome wind sounds at highway speeds, but an HS cruises serenely enough. The gas engine doesn’t sound especially refined for a luxury car; it roars intrusively under acceleration. Some electric generator whine is heard while decelerating.

Unlike the Prius, HS 250h’s gauges are placed directly in front of the driver, with only a few hybrid-related graphics. A large, mid-level protrusion from the dash holds the audio and climate controls. While it looks a bit odd, it places those functions within easy reach. The optional navigation system adds a screen that flips up from the top of the dash and a joystick controller at the back edge of the protrusion. With the navigation system, many related functions become virtual buttons on the screen. The computer-mouse-style interface works well, especially while driving. However, some operations, such as programming radio presets, require more steps to complete than should be necessary. Numerous soft-touch interior surfaces and a two-tone color scheme mark the HS as a luxury car, but the overall look is more subtle than rich.

Front seats offer a comfortably snug fit. Headroom and legroom are fine for most adults, but very tall folks will find both in short supply. Some testers have complained of their right knee hitting the dash protrusion. Visibility over the driver’s left shoulder is blocked by a thick roof pillar, but rear-corner visibility is good. Large door openings make for easy entry and exit.

Back-seat headroom is sufficient only for those up to about 5-foot-11, but there’s good legroom and under-seat foot space. A flat floor provides foot space for a center passenger, though the seat itself isn’t wide enough for three adults. Large door openings make entry and exit a breeze.

Cargo space is a bit limited. The trunk is tall and wide and has a reasonably large opening. However, it’s not very deep due to the battery pack being against the back wall. The battery pack also prevents having a fold-down rear seatback. In the passenger compartment, a decent-size glovebox, small console box, two covered cupholders, two small bins (three if there’s no navigation system), and small map pockets with cupholders make for slightly better-than-average small-item storage.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2011 Lexus HS 250h

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 9
90%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 59

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 184.8 70.3 59.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.1 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.0 36.8 42.6 34.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 HS 250h 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Electrical problem
Description: The infotainment system may have several problems including steering wheel volume controls, slow Bluetooth voice command response, screen going blank, slow iPad scrolling, and more requiring a firmware update. (2010)
Electrical problem
Description: Smart key battery life is shortened if left near items that may emit electrical noise such as TVs, computer monitors, PCs, notebooks, cell phones, cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc. (2010-11)
Navigation system
Description: The navigation screen pod may make an itching, squeaking noise requiring felt insulation be installed. (2010)
Entertainment problems
Description: USB and iPod devices may work intermittently on some vehicles unless the multi-media control unit is replaced. (2010)

Recall History

2010 HS 250h
Description: Some vehicles have experienced inconsistent brake feel after ABS actuation during slow and steady application of brakes on rough or slick road surfaces. Stopping distances could be increased.
2010 HS 250h
Description: When the vehicle was rotated following a crash test, as required, the amount of fuel leakage exceeded allowable limits.
2010 HS 250h
Description: Accelerator pedal can get stuck in the wide open position if it is trapped by an unsecured or incompatible floor mat.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.