2010 Lexus HS 250h Canadian Preview

2010 Lexus HS 250h

To mark the Canadian release of the Lexus HS 250h, Lexus Canada invited media from across the country to test drive the new hybrid sedan in Winnipeg, Manitoba, one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Canada.

The event took place over two days, where we were blessed with some exceptionally wonderful weather and plenty of time behind the wheel of the HS 250h—but first we started off with a presentation that covered the sedan from top to bottom.

HS 250h Specification

The HS 250h is Lexus’ first dedicated hybrid model, and is positioned between the IS 250 & ES 350 in both size and capability, which is best illustrated by this slide:

Lexus Size Difference

As with the new 2010 RX 450h, the HS 250h utilizes an Atkinson-cycle engine design, which increases fuel efficiency by lengthening the compression stroke. The 1.8L engine generates 147 horsepower on its own, and when combined with the hybrid drive motor, brings the total system horsepower to 187 total, all while emitting 70& fewer emissions that the average new car.

The hybrid system is aided by an Exhaust Heat Recovery System that captures the exhaust gases and uses its contained heat to warm the engine (specifically, the engine coolant). This allows the hybrid system to take control of the engine earlier and more often in the driving cycle, reducing fuel consumption by as much as seven percent during cold Canadian winters.

Along with a continually variable transmission and a co-efficient drag of just 0.27, the HS 250h is estimated to deliver a combined fuel consumption rating of 5.7 litres per 100km (5.6 / 5.9 L/100km, city/highway), making it by far the most fuel efficient model in the Lexus lineup.

HS 250h Premium Sport

Lexus HS250h

The very first vehicle of the day was a Matador Red Mica HS with the Sports package and a Water Grey & Black interior. Equipped with a sports-tuned suspension, 18” aluminum alloy wheels and sports pedals, the HS “Sport” gave a very good impersonation of the IS 250’s driving characteristics, which has its good and bad points. The handling was a definite upgrade over the standard HS, with a nicely-balanced weight to the steering that adds some character to the driving experience. This was surprising given that the HS is equipped with fully electric power steering rather than the traditional mechanical pump—Lexus did a very good job giving the system a very natural feel.

All HS’ feature four driving modes: Power, Eco, Normal and EV (electric only). I had difficulty telling the difference between Power & Normal mode, to be honest, but the Eco mode is quite noticeable in the way it limits the throttle in order to maximize fuel economy. The mode is close-to-frustrating, as it bites directly into your acceleration, but it’s a perfect feature for maximizing MPG.

The tradeoff with the improved handling is perhaps too much road feel, which became distracting on rougher roads. Also, the sportier ride had an effect on gas mileage, especially when my co-pilot (Jeff Melnychuk from Wheelbase Communications) did most of his driving in the HSh’s Sport mode setting. The result? In our first leg, covering just under 200kms, we returned a fuel consumption of 8.6 L/100km. Ouch.

HS 250h Premium & Ultra Premium

White Lexus HS 250h

After spending much of the morning with the Sport package, there was a noticeable difference jumping into the HSh Ultra Premium. If the ride quality with the Sports package was comparable to the IS 250, then the standard HS was very much like the ES 350. The handling was less responsive than the Sports package, but even so, it had a solid feel that never felt sloppy. More importantly, the suspension was much smoother and much preferable.

Along with the more relaxing ride, the HS 250h Ultra Premium was equipped with LED headlights, Remote Touch, voice-activated navigation and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, all of which added up to elegant and composed driving experience much more in line with my expectations.

The last HS 250h of the day was a base Premium, which at $39,900 is $8,850 less than the Ultra Premium. This cost savings does come at a price, though, as it removes many of the vehicle’s best features (especially Remote Touch & Navigation). Even so, the HS 250h interior is nicely appointed—in fact, the iPod integration of the standard radio is much more usable than Remote Touch and its clunky scrolling.

Perfect for Canada

While there may be some lingering uncertainty as to how the HS 250h will sell in the USA, I have very little doubt that the hybrid sedan will perform exceptionally well in Canada. One of the points that was stressed during the event, and perhaps the most indicative of Lexus’ expectation of the HS 250h in Canada, is this:

“Our research tells us that more than 60 per cent of those shopping in the entry luxury segment have been looking for a hybrid-powered option, and starting under $40,000, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h is the vehicle for these Canadians,” said Larry Hutchinson, Director of Lexus in Canada.

In fact, there may only be two things that will affect sales: inventory & package selection. With HS 250h’s early success in Japan and the sheer size of the American market, there may not be enough units to go around. On top of that, there are no singular options, no picking and choosing of options, and the jump from Premium to Ultra Premium is significant.

In the first year, though, this is unlikely to matter much, as the Ultra Premium model is expected to make up the bulk of initial orders. This should give Lexus Canada some time to work out more flexible options for 2011, at which point, I think the HS 250h will be well-positioned to make a real impact in the Canadian market.

(My very sincere thanks to everyone at Lexus Canada for their hospitality, and to Jeff Melnychuk for his headache-inducing music selection.)



  1. While the HS250h will not inject driving passion into the brand, it will however help to further establish Lexus’s ‘green’ credentials therefore is a welcomed addition to the lineup.

    Furthermore, i reserve no-doubt the car will establish itself a niche market and become relatively popular within it’s intended demography.

    Apart from that, i actually don’t mind the design of the HS either - individual in it’s own rights.


    ps. Keep up the good work Lexus

  2. its horrible that the HS base doesnt even have wood trim but that ugly metallic plastic black trim.

  3. Actually, I liked the black trim—thought it fit nicely in the overall look. That said, it would have been nice as black wood and not plastic.

  4. The ‘sports package’ certainly gives the car a nice sporting touch, looks rather good in it’s own ‘HS’ kinda way especially mica red as pictured.

  5. Thanks for the reading guys, i enjoyed the article.

    Great Site to visit


  6. Cool. The base model is… not a Lexus.


    The model highlight videos of the HS have finally been posted on Lexus.com, and when demonstrating the wide-front view camera, they had an IS F drive by! LOL

  8. btw, why does the HS lack the auto-park, while the Prius offers it?

  9. oh oh oh… and someone tell me how much fun the casual language voice command is!!!

  10. Marvellous….good news from Lexus.

  11. The HS in Canada lacks half of the options it does in the US.  In Canada, you can’t get an HS with:
    Wide-View Front Monitor
    Park Assist
    Pre-Collison System
    Driver Attention Monitor
    Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
    Heads Up Display
    Lane Keep Assist
    Lane Departure Warning

    Of course, like other Lexus cars, we don’t get Lexus Enform/Safety Connect either.

    Lexus, please smarten up.  We are not a 3rd world country…and Canada is listed as supported for Safety Connect/Enform.

  12. I see a typo. The HS has a 2.4L not a 1.8L.