Lexus seems more prescient than ever, releasing an economy luxury car in these tough economic times. The HS 250h is the company's smallest sedan, and only comes with a hybrid power train. It also features Lexus' latest cabin gadgets.
Advertising it as the first dedicated hybrid luxury vehicle, Lexus rolled out the much-anticipated HS 250h at the 2009 Detroit auto show. Defying some expectations, the car's proportions and design are much closer to the Camry than the Prius.
The Lexus emblem gets a blue cast, denoting that the car is a hybrid. The power train is similar in many respects to the Toyota Camry Hybrid, using a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine coupled to an electric motor. The system output comes to 187 horsepower. Lexus hasn't released mileage numbers yet, but it has an SULEV emissions rating.
Lexus employs various gas-saving technologies beyond the hybrid system. Similar to the new Lexus RX 450h, the engine uses an exhaust heat recovery system, which lets the engine stay off for longer periods of time, with the car running under electric power.
Another eco measure on the HS 250h is an infrared filtering windshield, which helps reduce heat in the cabin so the air conditioning doesn't have to work as hard. 30 percent of the interior is covered in bioplastic, a new plant-based plastic, to reduce the car's carbon footprint.
The interior gets Lexus' usual luxury treatment, with wood insets and leather. The cabin tech is similar to that found in the new RX, with a hard drive-based navigation system showing traffic and weather, and a natural language voice command system.
The HS 250h also gets the new interface controller found in the RX, a joystick that works as a mouse, controlling a cursor on the screen. This picture also shows the shifter, a small stick on the dashboard.