Efficient luxury?

More traditional profile

2.4-liter hybrid power train

Unique interior details

Remote touch controller

Icon-based menu system

Haptic feedback

Navigation with traffic

USB interface

iPod connectivity

Information menu

Hybrid energy monitor

XM sports, stocks, and more

Bluetooth wireless

Address book importing

L-finesse styling

Wideview front camera

Ultra wide view display

LED tail lamps

Backup camera

Handling

Power delivery

Fuel efficiency

When introducing the Lexus HS, Toyota claimed that it was all new, and not just a Prius with a proper trunk and a bigger price tag.
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However, the HS250h and the Prius' identical wheelbases (106.3 inches) hints that these vehicles may share more than Toyota wants to admit.
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The HS benefits from a larger 2.4-liter gasoline engine, which creates more confident acceleration and smoother, quieter highway cruising.
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The HS' cabin features a high-mounted, power-folding LCD display at the top of a unique floating center stack.
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At the base of the floating center stack, exactly where the driver's hand rests, is the new Remote Touch controller.
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The joystick-like Remote Touch controller moves a cursor around the Lexus' icon-based interface. Force feedback causes the controller to "click" into place over each icon.
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While the touch feedback makes it easy to make complex selections by touch, you wouldn't want to enter an address while driving. Fortunately, the Lexus features a top-notch voice command system that understands proper street names.
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The optional navigation system is hard-drive-base and features XM NavTraffic for flow and incident data. The map graphics are beautifully and quickly rendered.
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Although hard-drive-based, Toyota/Lexus' audio system does not allow for ripping of music. Instead, you get AM/FM/XM radio, a six-disc CD/DVD changer, and this USB port and analog auxiliary input combo.
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When connecting an iPod to the USB port, the Lexus system gives the driver full access to the artist, album, genre taxonomy, and even splits out podcasts into their own category. However, actually navigating a large library is still a bit slow and clunky.
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The Information menu is where you'll find menus for accessing telephone features and monitoring fuel consumption, as well as your Lexus Enform connected features.
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This readout should be familiar to anyone who has driven a second- or third-generation Prius. Here drivers can monitor the flow of power from the gas and electric motors and check the battery charge level.
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XM Sports, XM Stocks, and Lexus Insider are a few of the connected services provided as part of the Lexus Enform suite. Check out our First Look at the full Lexus Enform suite for more details.
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Standard Bluetooth wireless allows for hands-free calling and A2DP stereo audio streaming. However, the two protocols must be paired separately, which is frustrating and confusing.
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We were unable to get the Lexus system to automatically import our full address book. Instead, we had to send individual contacts over one at a time.
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The HS250h's front end is a strong example of Lexus' L-finesse styling language, with its three-bar grill that flows into the headlamps. The spacing between the grill slats is minimal to reduce drag.
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Look closely below the front Lexus badge and you'll see the ultrawide-view camera.
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The ultrawide-view camera gives drivers a 190-degree view of the road ahead, which is useful for peeking around blind intersections.
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LED tail lamps both increase visibility and reduce the electrical load placed on the HS' batteries.
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An optional backup camera works with audible proximity sensors when in reverse, but the display lacks trajectory lines.
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Blessed with better suspension tuning and and a multilink rear suspension (versus the Prius' torsion beam setup), the Lexus' ride is more refined than we expected. But make no mistake, she's no canyon carver.
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The Lexus HS exhibits great acceleration compared with the Prius, but is only so-so when compared with other vehicles in its price range.

Three different power modes adjust the hybrid power train for efficiency (ECO), power, or a balance thereof. A fourth EV mode attempts to keep the power train in electric mode for as long as possible.
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Compared with other hybrids, the HS250h's fuel efficiency is also unremarkable. Averaging 34 mpg (combined) just isn't impressive in a world where the Prius can easily pull high 40s.

Click here for even more photos of the Lexus' first dedicated luxury hybrid model, the HS250h.
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