When we first saw Lexus' new luxury hybrid, it was being revealed at the 2009 Detroit auto show. Recently we were given an opportunity to preview the new Lexus HS 250h, a vehicle that the automaker is calling the world's first luxury dedicated hybrid. It also calls the HS an economy luxury car, which to us seems like a bit of an oxymoron.
As I approached the vehicle, my first thought was, "Oh my, they've Lexusified and hybridized a Corolla! This is going to be a disaster." I couldn't have been more wrong.
True, the HS 250h looks like your run-of-the-mill, boring Toyota/Lexus econobox, but under the rather plain skin is a rather exceptional vehicle, particularly when it comes to cabin tech.
The HS 250h's dash is an ergonomic dream. Its floating center console lifts the climate and audio controls up to where they can be accessed without reaching. The flip-up navigation screen is moved up to the top of the dash, where it can be viewed in our periphery without taking our eyes off of the road.
At the bottom of the console, Lexus' new remote-touch controller falls naturally into the drivers' hand. A sort of joystick/trackball hybrid, the remote-touch controller uses a control stick that is moved with your fingertip to select options from the HS' icon-based interface. Movements are 1:1 with where the pointer is on the screen, so there's never any issue with losing the cursor. Haptic-force feedback notifies you through touch when an option has been selected, which assists in navigation without you having to take eyes off of the road for too long.… Read more