2010 Lexus HS250h

2010 Lexus HS250h

Lexus hybrids have traditionally been more about no-compromise performance than pure fuel economy. That looks like it's about to change with the 2010 HS250h, the brand's first distinct hybrid model.

Lexus says the HS250h slots between the IS and the ES, but many of the car's components seem sourced from the Toyota Camry hybrid. Powering its front wheels is the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder running on the Atkinson cycle. Total system power is also the same at 187 hp. It also borrows technology from the 2010 RX450h, using a similar exhaust heat recovery system to keep the engine warm and thus allowing it to shut down more often. Other fuel-saving tricks include infared-ray reduction properties in the windshield, which reduce the need for air-conditioning. The result, Lexus says, is fuel economy 30-perecnt better than any other model in its lineup. It has not released numbers yet, but we suspect it will be similar to that of the Camry hybrid, which achieves an EPA estimated 33/34 mpg city/highway.

Visually, the car looks like a slightly taller version of the IS, with a very similar C-pillar and rear fascia. The HS250h also has wider interior dimensions than the IS, and will seat five. Inside, the hybrid looks a lot like an upscale 2010 Prius, with a similar H-pattern shifter and center stack swathed in what appear to be much higher quality plastics. Owners will of course be treated to a full assortment of Lexus features, including the brand's new 24/7 emergency roadside assistance and its iDrive-like Remote Touch controller.

The HS250 will hit dealers this summer. Stay tuned for more details, including pricing.

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