Leonard St. Amand is standing in an upscale Atlanta restaurant parking lot beside two gleaming vehicles showing a group of automobile writers the latest features on the 2010 Lexus HS 250h.
Lexus has been producing hybrids since 2006—previously from vehicles that first had gas engines then modified as hybrids. However the HS 250h, one of four hybrids in the Lexus family of vehicles, is the first designed purely as a hybrid.
“It has an amazing amount of innovation,” said St. Amand before he walked the writers around the vehicle pointing out its features inside, outside and under.
St. Amand is a field technical specialist with Lexus, and he makes it clear that this isn’t the kind of car one would want to drive without first spending time with the owner’s manual. The high-tech features are just that intricate.
“It’s very intuitive,” he remarked.
While I didn’t get to test drive it, the 2020 Lexus HS 250h boasts the kinds of high-tech advances that practically beg for a trail run. I was eager to determine how they might affect the driving experience. Among the new features:
• Four powertrain modes—normal, power, eco and ev–designed to allow the driver to decide when to choose to conserve power or use more power. The eco mode provides about two to three more miles per gallon by pushing back a little on the gas and cycling the air conditioning on and off. The ev mode is electric only and ideal for low-speed conditions. It will run the vehicle for about a mile and a half. The power mode is described as when drivers want a more aggressive feel such as when driving in a mountainous area.
• Adaptive front lighting system and intelligent high beams that automatically dim when another vehicle approaches.
• Pre-collision system with lane-keep assist and lane departure warning that monitors when the vehicle begins to drift and helps keep the vehicle in the center of the lane.
• Heads-up displays navigation information, speed and audio information onto front windshield.
• An under-vehicle air flow management system for reduced wind resistance.
• Smaller, lighter hybrid components for reduced vehicle weight.
• A remote touch controller—that resembles a modernized joy stick—that controls audio, heat, air condition, ventilation and navigation systems. It’s designed to reduce eye and arm movement.
• 10 airbags including drive and front passenger knee airbags.
• Plasmacluster ionizer that reduces airborne elements such as spores, mold, bacteria, germs and odors.
Standard features include the four-mode powertrain, remote touch controller for vehicles with a navigation system, 10 airbags, mp3 player connectivity and cruise control.
The 2010 Lexus HS 250h, which also has keyless entry and push-button start, attains between 35 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, and it retails for $34,000 and $43,000, depending on options.