Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The World's First Luxury Hybrid

Lexus HS250h

Lexus wasn't the first Japanese automaker to launch a premium brand in North America (that title belongs to Acura) but it has been the most successful. Last week on the 20th anniversary of the launch of the original LS400 at the Detroit Auto Show, Lexus did debut a true first. The new HS250h is the world's first dedicated luxury hybrid which means it's only available with combined gas and electric drive. There is no non-hybrid version of the HS250h which is derived from the Prius.

Toyota created the HS250h for those wanted to combine the green cachet of driving the fuel efficiency icon without having the sacrifice the features and finish they expect in a Lexus. That means the hard plastic and goofy gauges of the Prius are replaced by soft touch surfaces, leather seating and goodies like lane departure prevention, heads up display and even a camera in the grille to let the driver check blind spots and prevent running up on curbs. As with all of its models, Lexus has promised that the HS250h will provide the quiet and comfort they expect from the brand.

Some celebrities may opt to go with the new Prius which is expected to get 50 mpg, but for those that want to ride in more style the Lexus HS250h should still get city mileage numbers in the mid-thirties, beating the tiny Smart ForTwo. The HS250h goes on sale in late summer at a price yet to be announced. You can check out video of the HS250h after the jump.