2011 Lexus HS250h Silver Side Shot
Peter Neilson's picture

The Corolla Hybrid Of The Luxury World Is The Forgotten Lexus HS250h

Ever heard of the Lexus HS250h? Not many people have, and for good reason. It was not super popular. Here is what you need to know about this quaint hybrid that is a great alternative to the new Corolla.
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Every so often, a vehicle manufacturer comes up with an idea that is so good no one knows about it. I am talking about the Lexus HS250h. This long-forgotten luxury hybrid has been around for a few years, yet we seldom hear anything about it.

So, what is this car, and what does it have to do with you? Hold on. You are about to find out. Introducing the Lexus HS250h or better known now as the Toyota Corolla Hybrid. Wait; what?

Where Did The HS250h Come From?
Well, to answer this question the easy way, I can tell you that Lexus HS250h came from a factory. While that is not super helpful information, here is a better answer.

Lexus HS250h 2012

During the mid-2000s, when gen two Prius was in full swing, Lexus wanted to have more options available to the luxury segment. Prius had become wildly popular, and with a proven powertrain that yielded very few issues, Lexus wanted to follow suit. Next thing you know, the HS250h was born.

The smaller sedan based off the then-new MC platform, it was meant to be an entry-level option to hook in more Lexus buyers that also wanted to "go green." The results were less than satisfactory. I remember sitting in my cubicle looking at sales data when I worked for the corporate machine Toyota Motor North America. I can distinctly remember how the comparison of the HS250h to the Corolla and how stark the differences were in sales.

The HS250h had sold nearly nothing in comparison to Corolla, yet Prius was still a top seller along with its luxury nemesis, the CT200h. So, if CT and Prius were such good sellers, why did the HS flop so hard? That is an excellent question, and to answer it, we need to think like a major car corporation.

The HS250h Was The Test Bed For Corolla
My theory is that Toyota was using a smaller entry-level Lexus sedan to see how well a vehicle in that segment would work. Afterall, Corolla has been a Toyota bread and butter car since 1966. I think that Toyota wanted to preserve the Corolla nameplate to keep sales high while they tested a smaller hybrid sedan in the market.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid white front shot

Again, this is just a theory, but it does make some sense. I also think that, as I mentioned earlier, Lexus wanted part of the Prius segment. Lexus did have the CT, but there are some flaws in that car. Try sitting in the backseat if you are over 5'7" and tell me you are comfortable. Go ahead; I'll wait. Couple that with the CT being a sportier, stiffer ride, and you have a car that fits a niche amount of people.

Lexus's quality is a big deal to Lexus owners, and the brand does market itself that way. To have just one small sporty hybrid car would limit the number of people that would want to own a higher quality better riding small hybrid sedan. Boom, HS250h would fit that segment, which it does, just not as well as Lexus thought.

Sorry but the numbers do not quite add up when you look at the sales data over time. The car sold less, and less each year, it was produced, making it a total flop. Couple that with the fact that the fuel economy was not exactly what people thought it would get, and you then see the HS250h stockpiling up at Lexus dealers all over. Good thing, there were not too many made.

In The End
Here are some clear takeaways from this. The Lexus HS250h, based on the MC platform, which Corolla is as well. The powertrain is the same at the Toyota Camry hybrid, which is great but did not meet customers' fuel economy expectations. Seriously 35 mpg city on a Toyota hybrid that is roughly the same size as a Prius is a real rolling joke.

There is some saving grace here. If you want one, you can usually find them with low miles and for a pretty darn reasonable price. Plus, you have a proven powertrain that will keep you on the road for many miles to come while doing it in style. Lexus style that is.

Do you own an HS250h? If so, what do you think about it? Drop me a line and tell me what your experience is with the car. I would love to know.

Thank you for reading. See you in the next story. Pros And Cons When Going To LED Headlights In Your Toyota Prius.

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting


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