In contrast to the larger Lexus hybrids, the HS250h is a pure fuel-economy play and is available only as a hybrid. The powertrain has a larger, more powerful four-cylinder engine than the Prius; the HS250h uses the 2.4-liter engine from the (previous-generation) Camry Hybrid. Total output is 187 hp, and you need all of it to move this 3700-pound car. To accelerate with any alacrity, the CVT keeps the four-cylinder engine revving, which makes for an un-Lexus-like drone. The engine is quieter when cruising, but you can feel the system alternating between battery-pack assisting and charging. Around town, the HS250h is commendably refined, and the hybrid's machinations are transparent. Happily, the electrically assisted power steering is not overboosted, nor is the suspension complete mush. (An optional sport suspension is available.) The interior lives up to Lexus standards, and there's a surprising amount of space both front and rear. The HS250h bristles with available equipment, such as cameras front and rear, heated and cooled seats, a Mark Levinson audio system, adaptive front lighting, and an OnStar-like concierge service called Lexus Enform. Despite the plethora of equipment and the plush interior, the HS250h driving experience isn't quite on a par with that of traditional Lexus sedans. Fuel economy no longer tops luxury-brand hybrids, bested by the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and Lexus's own CT200h. An in-house competitor, the CT200h is particularly nettlesome, offering not only better fuel economy but also a lower price.
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