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Lexus submits to four-banger hybrid

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  January 12, 2009 10:53 AM

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LexusHS-609.jpg(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Lexus has been the only manufacturer to market hybrids as top-tier luxury trims instead of frugal, more expensive economy cars. The V-8-powered GS 450h sedan, RX 450h crossover and flagship $115,000 LS 600hL are not models in restraint, nor are they fuel-efficient. Saying "hybrid" to a Lexus dealer just meant another item checked off on an already lengthy list of features.

But even the affluent are cutting back and downsizing in this dour economy, all the better to introduce the Prius-based HS 250h, the "world's first dedicated luxury hybrid," according to Lexus. A 2.4 liter four-cylinder in a Lexus is also a world first, but those worried about noise, vibration, and harshness should know that Lexus surely did - and that the car probably has enough dampers, insulation, and seals to muffle five screaming babies.

Styling, however, is typical Lexus, a hybrid of attractive lines and copycat curves. With its large blue oval "L" in the middle of a three-bar chrome grill, the front fascia practically screams "Ford Fusion" (a good thing for Ford). Flat, square body panels shape the doors, trunk, and roof into a mold of the last-generation Mazda 6, but they contribute to a slick 0.27 Cd drag coefficient.

EPA estimates and pricing haven't been released, but Lexus says the HS 250h will return 30 percent better mileage than its most efficient model, the combined 24-mile-per-gallon IS 250. Expect the first models to arrive "late summer," right when gas prices should peak. Lexus really does think of everything.

For more photos, see the full entry.

(All photos by Toyota)

Lexus HS 250h

Lexus HS 250h

Lexus HS 250h

Lexus HS 250h

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The author is solely responsible for the content.

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10 comments so far...
  1. FUGLY...Is this a prius or corolla...Im surprised lexus would tarnished thier image with this rebadge...What a mistake...They should have called it the Lexus Cimmaron...

    Posted by EJFX January 12, 09 11:41 AM
  1. I would be nice if there were some pictures of what the inside is like since that in large part will set the luxury tone - or not - for the owner/passengers.

    Posted by Marie January 12, 09 12:42 PM
  1. I'd like to see a Lexus, hybrid version of the new Toyota Venza (without the hyped-up front grille).

    Posted by LexusOwnerSince'96 January 12, 09 02:35 PM
  1. I think it s a great product for buyers of the prius who have been waiting for Lexus to pu something out that compares.

    Posted by P Gill January 12, 09 03:56 PM
  1. The reviewer was right that the front grill SCREAMS ford fusion.

    Posted by Phil January 13, 09 08:28 AM
  1. No price?

    Posted by Boomers Rock January 13, 09 11:10 AM
  1. Dealer thought upper thirties was where this would price out

    Posted by M January 13, 09 11:15 AM
  1. Isn't this the same as getting a toyota camry hybrid? I guess you have to pay a premium because of the 'lexus' name......

    Posted by jj January 13, 09 12:58 PM
  1. From what I read on other sites, the car has some components in common with the new Prius, but the platform is not a rebadged Prius or even on the Prius platform but rather based on something closer to the Avensis found in Europe.

    Posted by Aldo January 13, 09 08:56 PM
  1. I appreciated the interior photos - and am frankly a little dissappointed. While I don't expect a lot from the outside of a Lexus (they all seem to look like something else to me) I expect them to shine on the inside. And this one doesn't seem to.

    And speaking of the outside. As the writer originally said it looks like a Focus. To that we can add that it and and new Insight from Honda have a lot in common with the grille, badge, space under the three bars, and headlights, as well it seems to have with the new Ford Fusion. I am not a big Ford fan but the Fusion hyrbid may be more appealing than this Lexus. Assuming the price mentioned by "M" is anywhere near right.

    Posted by Marie January 14, 09 01:28 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
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