Test Drive: 2013 Lexus RX 450h

Test Drive: 2013 Lexus RX 450h

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2013 Lexus RX450h continue to lead hybrid SUVs

Even though the luxury hybrid was somewhat of a novelty when Lexus introduced the RX400h in 2005 as a 2006 model, it quickly followed its gasoline counterpart and became a top-selling model. At the time it was the closest thing to a guilt-free sport-utility vehicle we’d ever seen: luxurious with an impressive assemblage of features and technologies, powerful and more fuel-efficient than its gas-powered sibling, the RX 300.

Since the beginning the RX hybrid has been in the top ten hybrid sales column and was the most popular hybrid sport utility in 2012.

In 2010 Lexus rolled out an all-new RX hybrid, the RX 450h. It not only featured a new exterior and interior design, it offered more power and significantly improved fuel economy.

For 2013 Lexus has given both the gasoline and hybrid RX models a refresh. The most obvious change is a new facelift and includes slight revisions to the backside and a modest interior makeover. Additionally for the RX hybrid, the power liftgate is now standard as is a USB interface for connection to external devices such as iPods. Also, the Sport mode is standard rather than optional for 2013.

The 2013 RX 450h is offered in a front-wheel drive (F-WD) model with a base price of $46,310, an increase of $1,075 over the 2012 model, and an all-wheel drive (A-WD) version starting at $47,710, up $885.

With an EPA combined fuel economy of 30 mpg — 32 city/28 highway — the RX 450h front drive model is the most fuel-efficient sport utility on the road. And the second best? The all-wheel drive version with a rating of 30 city/28 highway/29 combined.

Carryover Hybrid Powertrain

Pop the hood and you’ll find a repeat of the hybrid powertrain introduced in 2010. The system combines a gasoline engine with two electric motors for the front drive model and three motors for the all-wheel drive version. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) and nickel-metal hydride battery pack complete the system.

Like other Lexus hybrids, the RX 450h can operate in electric-only or gas-engine-only modes as well as a combination of both. And, the hybrid system can shut off the engine when the car is stopped, and then turn it on again when the brake pedal is released.

The gas-electric RX is outfitted with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 245 horsepower and 234 pounds-feet of torque. Like many engines used in hybrid vehicles, the RX hybrid’s runs on the Atkinson cycle rather than the conventional Otto cycle. In simple terms, the Atkinson cycle uses less energy to compress fuel and air together, and makes relatively more energy when that mixture explodes. Lexus says this contributes fuel savings of 12 to 14 percent.

The engine runs on exceptionally free-flowing 0W-20 oil. In modern engines, lighter oils are an important fuel economy factor, with less energy lost to friction. For the RX hybrid, less friction allows an oil pump that operates on less power.

In addition, two electric motors join this powertrain. One is an engine-driven generator that operates as an engine starter and can charge the battery pack or power other electric motors as needed. The second is a 155 horsepower motor that works with the gas engine to deliver power to the front wheels. Total output of this pairing is 295 horsepower.

The CVT is charged with managing that output and directing the power to the front wheels. The CVT uses a belt-pulley system instead of a finite set of gears in conventional automatic transmissions. It continuously adjusts gear ratios through a planetary gearset that more precisely matches engine output with acceleration and fuel economy. The driver can “downshift” and “upshift” via the shifter, but these are programmed virtual shift points, not actual fixed gears.

Completing the hybrid system is a 288-volt nickel metal hydride battery pack tucked neatly under the second-row seats. When the vehicle brakes, some of the energy is captured and sent to the battery pack.

The all-wheel drive RX hybrid adds a third, rear-mounted motor-generator. Since it aspires to all-weather mobility instead of all-terrain capability, the motor simply adds more torque automatically to the rear wheels if wheelspin is detected. A dual-range transmission is not offered.

For greater emphasis on efficiency, Lexus has outfitted the RX 450h with both EV and Eco driving modes. In EV, this hybrid functions solely on electric power, but only at low speeds and short distances. The more practical Eco mode works to limit throttle response in order to promote greater fuel economy. In other words, it restrains the engine’s ability to operate at its full potential. The ideal time to use this function is during in-town driving or stop-and-go traffic.

Updated Outside And In

To call the 2013 RX 450h an all-new design is a stretch, but it gains a notable face lift. Like all Lexuses, the RX hybrid has a version of the automaker’s new distinctive grille design. Hourglass in shape — Lexus calls it a “spindle” shape — it has horizontal rather than vertical slats with a center bar in between the upper and lower sections. Headlamps are thinner, almost blade-like highlighted by beaded LED running lights underneath. The net result is a slightly more aggressive face.

Aside from these changes and tweaked taillamps, the RX hybrid continues its sleek, aerodynamic look from front to back. Its raked windshield flows effortlessly into a gently sloping roofline. In other words, it continues to look like an RX.

The no-detail-overlooked interior of the RX 450h is sumptuous with soft leather meeting fingertips at nearly every touch point. Changes for 2013 are subtle, like a redesigned steering wheel that Lexus says has a more

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Lexus RX450h – High Tech Insides

comfortable and relaxing grip. The glove box has new metallic accents, while a redesigned center console provides improved accessibility and more storage space.

As expected, front seating is all-day comfortable with an abundance of head, shoulder and leg room. This carries to the rear where passengers — three comfortably — will find seats that recline and move fore and aft.

There’s also generous cargo space: 40 cubic feet behind the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats that expands to 80 cubes when they’re all lowered. If you are looking for a third row seat you’ll have to look elsewhere.

While the RX 450h does offer all the high-tech gizmos that have become synonymous with luxury class vehicles, many are an extra cost. Yes, the hybrid does include standard features such as a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ten-way power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker sound system, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and an iPod/USB audio interface.

If you want the full-meal-deal luxury experience, you’ll pay extra. Leather seating is optional as is a moonroof and roof rails that each are part of option packages.

Want a blind spot monitor, a marvelous safety feature? That’s a $500 option. It’s standard on the $23,650 Mazda3 Grand Touring.

How about a backup camera, another excellent safety device? You have to purchase the $860 Display Audio and Camera package. It’s standard on a $24,980 Honda Accord Sport sedan.

Granted, there are some very nifty options: a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled leather seats, dual screen rear entertainment and the superb 15 speaker Mark Levinson audio system. But it all adds up. Our all-wheel drive test vehicle was equipped with every available option with a sticker price of $63,385 plus $895 destination charges.

If you need to be connected, the $2,700 Navigation package is a must. It includes the Lexus Enform application suite. With it you can tap into Internet search engines, apps such as OpenTable, Pandora, and Yelp by pairing a smart phone via Bluetooth or a physical connection.

When you opt for the Navigation system you get the Lexus Remote Touch system, a mouse-like controller that allows moving among a variety of icons on the large dash-mounted screen. It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, but from then on it’s a breeze to operate.

Behind The Steering Wheel

We spent the long President’s Day weekend in Phoenix, where we quickly remembered why people become snowbirds — sunshine, endless blue skies and 75 degrees in February is difficult to beat.

On the top of our to-do list was to revisit Sedona and its red rocks, about 120 miles north of Phoenix. A few minutes after 8:00 a.m. as we loaded a few things in the Stargazer Black RX, the temperature was already nudging 60 degrees. We headed east on I-10 and then north on I-17 through greater Phoenix’s western sprawl, into the city itself, and then up the entire length of the ever growing northern sprawl.

Once suburbia gave way to saguaro, the speed limit increased to 75 mph, which was mainly ignored. So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Tackling on-road duties is the RX hybrid’s forte. On the highway it acts much like the vaunted ES 300 sedan, just with a higher ride height. The interior remains quiet at speed and the vehicle is stable on the road, regardless of how broken the pavement.

There’s a bit of body lean in turns that lets you know this is taller than a sedan. But it grips the road like a well-designed automobile.

While the RX hybrid may mimic the ES 300, it doesn’t have the same suspension. It has longer travel that soaks up the big bumps particularly well and virtually preventing the small impacts. The ride isn’t quite firm enough to put the “sport” into sport-utility, but it’s plenty comfortable to firmly plant the RX 450h into the realm of luxury vehicles.

The famous red to orange-colored sandstone “Red Rocks of Sedona” seem to appear from nowhere as we round a curve. Choose an adjective —spectacular, astounding, wondrous, incredible, etc., etc.  None seem adequate to describe their splendor. Sedona’s elevation is around 4,500 feet, with some rock formation ascending to more than a mile-high.

The red rocks aren’t the only attraction that draws more than four million visitors annually to Sedona (half of which seemed to be there on the day of our visit). The town is a major arts center with art galleries lining Sedona’s two main thoroughfares.

Slowly scouring the streets in search of a parking space, the hybrid powertrain performed its role as an electric vehicle flawlessly. Light-footed driving saw the RX deliver its power in a smooth, virtually noiseless manner and, of course, no nasty exhaust emissions.

Our previous experiences with the Lexus RX hybrid have yielded fuel economy that was at or exceeded the EPA estimates. However, keeping up with the flow of traffic in the far left lane on I-17 took its toll. A fill up after 312 miles of travel resulted in 25.3 mpg, nearly 4 mpg less than the EPA’s combined average. But, that was somewhat consoling when I thought about the fuel mileage of the full-size SUVs and pickups that whisked past us when our speedo was planted at 85 mph.

Economics

The 2013 RX 450h is pricey, $6,650 more than its non-hybrid sibling, the RX 350. The question is, is the fuel efficiency boost of 14 mpg city and only 3 mpg highway worth the additional dollars? With the current price of gas at $3.75 per gallon according to AAA, if most of your driving is city or urban, the hybrid is a pretty good choice. If you do more highway driving than city, the gas-powered RX may be a better choice.

Lexus pioneered the luxury hybrid SUV segment, but there are a couple of other hybrid choices.

Audi’s 2013 Q5 Hybrid is a tad smaller inside than the RX and its 30 mpg highway fuel economy equals the Lexus. However, city driving can only muster 24 mpg in town. The starting price of $50,900 is $4,590 more than the RX but it comes standard with all-wheel drive, leather interior, navigation and a sunroof.

If performance and handling trump fuel economy, then Porsche’s Cayenne S Hybrid with a price starting at $69,850 shouldn’t be overlooked. And if you need an SUV that can seat seven or even eight passengers and can tow up to 5,800 pounds, the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is your only choice. It starts at a hefty $74,425, but bear in mind that it has a truck-based chassis platform and won’t provide the smoother ride quality as the Lexus.

Bottom line: In general, the 2013 Lexus RX 450h is the perfect all-purpose vehicle as an everyday hauler of full-size people and their stuff. It’s at its best around town, picking up people and delivering people and doing so in all kinds of weather. Plus, it delivers the best fuel economy of any sport utility.

Prices are Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) at time of publication and do not include destination charges, taxes or licensing

Some related articles of competitive vehicles you might find interesting:

2013 Honda CR-V Road Test

2013 Toyota RAV4 EV First Drive

Top 10 AWD/4WDs with the best MPG

 

 

10 Hybrid Cars with Best Miles per Gallon

10 Hybrid Cars with Best Miles per Gallon

Prius c 2012Toyota Prius c now starts for less than $19,000 and saves with fewer trips to the gas station. The “c” is the compact sport member of the Prius family – officially known as Prii. This new compact Prius 5-door hatchback uses the same fuel-efficient hybrid Synergy drive as its classic midsized cousin and is at least $4,000 less expensive to buy.This fuel economy champion leads with 53 miles per gallon (mpg) city, 46 highway, and 50 combined. If you want better mileage drive in Eco mode. Toyota Prius c Review and Features

 

Toyota PriusToyota Prius Liftback continues its 12-year hybrid car leadership with the best fuel economy, lowest carbon emissions, and in hybrid sales. Customers keep voting for the Prius with their pocketbooks. This fuel economy champion leads with 51 miles per gallon (mpg) city, 48 highway, and 50 combined. If you want better mileage drive in Eco mode. The 5-door Prius Liftback seats 5 in its midsized interior. The 60/40 split backseat can be lowered to make room for lots of work gear, home improvement projects, 2 bicycles, and other stuff. Manufacturer suggested price starts at about $23,520 MSRP (all prices in this article are starting points for negotiation, are subject to change, and can be higher due to destination, handling, and options).  Toyota Prius Review

 

Ford C-Max HybridFord C-MAX Hybrid 2013 is a new crossover with more room for cargo and 5 passengers than some small SUVs. Drivers will make fewer trips to the gas station. This crossover delivers 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway, 47 mpg combines. It prices a bit lower than the new Prius v crossover and gets better mileage. Drop the back seat and you have major cargo space for work, home projects, and sports. Ford will go the Prius v one better and also offer the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid where your first 20 miles can be from a garage charge. Ford C-MAX Hybrid and Ford’s Electric Strategy

 

2013 Ford FusionFord Fusion Hybrid 2013 is the most fuel-efficient sedan you can get without buying its plug-in hybrid cousin the Ford Fusion Energi. The Fusion Hybrid midsized sedan achieves 47 city, 47 highway, and 47mpg combined. Accelerate carefully and you can even stay in pure electric mode for a while. The Fusion Hybrid provides a smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride with the a third-generation drive system that includes 2 electric motors and new lithium battery pack. The trunk only holds 12 cubic feet and the backseats do not lower. Ford has included a number of telematics and infotainment electronics. $27,200 MSRP. Fusion Hybrid Test Drive

 

Honda Accord Plug-in HybridHonda Accord. I was impressed with my test drive of the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid that will go on sale in early 2013 in California and New York for about  $39,800. I also expect Honda to announce a 2014 Accord Hybrid that should get an impressive 47-mpg. This new 4-door, 4-seat sedan, will price for less than the plug-in alternative.

 

VW Jetta HybridVolkswagen Jetta Hybrid was fun for me to drive. For 2013, you get the Jetta with good mpg, better if you mainly drive on highways with the Jetta TDI diesel, and best if you do mainly city driving with the Jetta Hybrid, which delivers 42-mpg city, 48 highway, and 45-mpg combo. Starting at about $25,000, this 4-door, 5-seat hybrid sedan, with more trunk space than many is giving the Camry and Fusion Hybrids something to worry about.

 

Lincoln MKZ HybridLincoln MKZ Hybrid is an entry-level luxury sedan with a plush interior and the smoothest test drive that I have experienced. Now you can have luxury appointments and roomy midsized interior without sacrificing fuel economy. Using the same drive system as the Fusion Hybrid, The 2013 Lincoln MKZ offers 45 city, 45 highway, and 45-mpg combined. The trunk only holds 11 cubic feet and the backseats do not lower. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid starts at about $36,000 for this luxury hybrid – the same price as the Lincoln MKZ non-hybrid! Lincoln MKZ Test Drive

 

Honda Civic HybridHonda Civic Hybrid is new for 2013 with improved styling, handling, and electronics. With a lithium-ion battery the new Civic Hybrid delivers 44-mpg city, highway, and combined mpg while starting for about $22,000..  Honda Civic Review

 

Toyota Prius v Crossover – My test drive of the new Prius v convinces me that you can get 42 MPG with comfort for 5 people and the flexibility toPrius v Windy Road hold the cargo carried in most SUVs. The Prius v is shaking-up the crossover SUV and wagon market, selling for only $26,400. At 44/40/42 MPG combined, the Prius v delivers double the mileage of many SUVs with more cargo flexibility than most. Toyota Prius v Test Drive and Specifications

 

Lexus CT200h delivers great mileage in a premium sport 5-door hatchback with 42 mpg by using the Prius Synergy drive system. I was delighted with my test drive of this in Sport mode on the track and Eco mode on the streets and Lexus CT200hhighways. Now you can enjoy the premium features of a Lexus and still get 43 city, 40 highway, and 42 combined mpg. Legroom in this compact is fine for most, but a 6-foot, 3-inch driver complained about wanting more in the front and back seats. Lexus CT200h Owner’s Driving Experience and Review

 

Honda Insight

Honda Insight is a 5-door hatchback and a hybrid price leader under $19,000, competing with the more full-efficient Prius c. The Insight delivers 41 city, 44 highway, and 42 mpg combined. The Insight is sportier in looks and handling than the Civic. Unlike the Civic Hybrid, the backseats can be lowered for more cargo in the Insight. An alternative to the Insight is the Honda CR-Z, a fun sports coupe with good handling and performance. Sport car lovers are likely to get the 6-speed stick, although the CVT automatic transmission includes paddle shifters. Insight Test Drive

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid LE 2013 delivers 43 mpg city, 39 highway, combined 41 mpg. Touch the EV button and drive over a mile in electric mode. The Camry is so popular that 15 million have been sold. It has been America’s best selling car for 9 years. Starting at $25,900, The Camry Hybrid LE  with excellent fuel economy will not take long to pay for the roughly $3,000 premium over the non-hybrid Camry. Toyota Camry Hybrid 2012

 

Lexus ES 300hLexus ES 300h puts you in an entry-level luxury sedan that requires fewer expensive stops at the gas station. Your friends will be impressed with the quiet elegance of the exterior, Takumi hand-stitched leather, and beautiful bamboo steering wheel. This luxury sedan delivers 40 city, 39 highway, and 40-combined mpg. The Lexus ES 300h starts at less than $38,900. Pay extra for a panoramic sunroof and safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep.

 

Avalon HybridToyota Avalon Hybrid gives you the same hybrid drive system as the Lexus ES 300h but costs almost $3,500 less due to a premium rather than luxury cache. It has more room and premium appointments than the popular Camry Hybrid. The new Avalon Hybrid offers a big-boost in mileage with 40 city, 39 highway, and 40 mpg combined. Sorry, you can’t lower the back seat for more cargo.

 

 

With high oil prices, hybrids are more popular than ever.  People have their favorite hybrid. Perhaps your favorite does not have quite the mileage of the above. Car owners that really want to reduce their gasoline use and carbon footprint are lining up to buy new plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt and pure battery-electrics such as the Nissan LEAF. Best Plug-in Hybrids and Battery Electric Cars

You can get good mileage without having to spend over $20,000 for a hybrid. Good mileage is available with the Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Chevy Cruze, and MiniCooper. If you spend most of your time on freeways, turbo diesels are appealing alternative to hybrids.

This top 10 hybrid comparison includes the hybrid cars available for sale in the United States this year. Therefore it does not include the Honda Fit Hybrid and Toyota Yaris Hybrid, which we hope to see in the U.S. in the future. The list is commercially available cars and not specialty and conversions that might show-up in a few fleets and garages.

Cash Savings and Carbon Footprints

As I was being video taped, an interviewer asked me why anyone would buy a hybrid when they could not cost justify the added cost. I answered that when I bought my 2002 Prius, I paid about $5,000 more than a comparable non-hybrid, saved $1,000 per year for 7 years, then sold it for $4,000 more than a non-hybrid. For me it was a money maker. For those that don’t drive much, a hybrid may not save. Some hybrids are about performance and not saving money. In cities like San Francisco and New York, where taxis cover 90,000 miles per year, most buy hybrids and pay for the hybrid in months with major fuel savings.

Hybrids with the best mileage save at the pump year after year. They make the United States more energy secure. The U.S. is presently quite vulnerable to oil supply disruption, since 95 percent of U.S. transportation now depends on oil. Hybrids help clear the air with lower emissions.

The best hybrids emit less than half the greenhouse gases of average cars, which produce 400 grams CO2-equivalent per mile, and a third of most SUVs. For example, the Toyota Prius c only emits 179 grams per mile; add another 43 grams per mile to include the lifetime emissions required to mine the materials and manufacture the car. This 222 g CO2e/mile (US EPA GREET 2) gets us close to the 2025 U.S. CAFÉ standards, twelve years early.

From practical hatchbacks, to crossovers with the room of SUVs, to luxury sedans, you now have unprecedented choice in hybrid cars. Enjoy the drive.

Best Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars

2010 Lexus HS 250h Premium Hybrid Car with Best MPG

2010 Lexus HS 250h Premium Hybrid Car with Best MPG

By John Addison (updated 3/31/10; original 3/26/10)

Summary

Luxury car buyers now longer need to sacrifice mileage. The Lexus HS250h gives you the image of success, luxury features, and a hybrid that delivers 35 miles per gallon. Only four other hybrids offer better fuel economy, none with what Lexus bills as a luxury car. You will notice premium appointments in the leather trim, one-touch moonroof, and the quiet ride resulting from added noise insulation. Basically this compact premium 4-door sedan uses the Camry drive system, but seats 5 with more luxury appointments than available in a Camry or Prius. Use half the gas of many luxury cars. This new Lexus was designed to exclusively be a hybrid; there is no 250 non-hybrid.

Mileage & Carbon Footprint

  • 35 miles per gallon (mpg) overall
  • 34 mpg highway
  • 35 mpg city
  • 5.3 tons CO2e carbon emissions per year

Price

  • $34,200 starting
  • $45,000 if loaded with entertainment, navigation, luxury touring package, and safety technology

Hybrid Drive System

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive engages an electric motor, a gasoline engine, or both to keep you moving with front-wheel drive. The Lexus 250 hybrid incorporates a drive-mode switch that allows the driver to select between four modes: Normal, Power, Eco and EV. Most of the time, you will probably want to be in Eco mode to save gas yet have performance. Touch Power for freeway acceleration or passing a slow truck on a two-lane road. EV mode will let you travel a short distance in silence with only the electric motor engaged, receiving electricity from the NiMH battery pack. Most of the time, both electric motor and the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine are working together to improve fuel efficiency. In this automatic, acceleration is smoothly managed by the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT). Using a two-motor hybrid system, the HS 250h uses a 141 hp drive motor that combines with the 147 hp gas engine. A second motor in the hybrid system serves as both engine starter and generator to charge the hybrid battery pack.

Green Features

The greenest feature is the hybrid drive system that delivers 35 mpg. The 2010 Lexus HS 250h lets you touch a button to select the EV Mode to run in electric-only mode for less than 1 mile if the battery is fully charged or ECO Mode to drive with the best fuel economy over a distance. Added fuel savings involves an Exhaust Heat Recovery System that captures the heat of spent exhaust gases to speed engine coolant warm-up and allow the hybrid system to stop the engine earlier and more often in the driving cycle when it’s not needed, giving this Lexus better fuel economy in the city than on the highway. Overall, the system can improve fuel efficiency by as much as seven percent in low ambient temperatures.

Although the Lexus HS 250h looks like a conventional sedan, it saves fuel by being aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of .27, close to the .25 of the Prius. To be more eco-friendly, bioplastic from plant sources is the raw material for parts of the interior upholstery, injection-molded, foam and board components including trunk compartment trim, cowl side trim, door scuff plates, seat cushions and the package tray. Overall, approximately 30 percent of the combined interior and trunk are covered in bioplastic.

Space

As a compact you get good handling and performance, but this compact four-door sedan is a bit snug, especially in the back seat. The Lexus HS250h provides 90 cubic feet of space for up to 5 people, and 12 cubic feet of trunk space.

Safety

After selling 18,000 of these Lexus hybrids, production was temporarily stopped during the Toyota recall.  This Lexus uses the Prius regen brake system. During my drive the brakes worked fine. The Lexus HS250h uses the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB2) system with regenerative control and incorporating Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

For $3,900 an added safety technology package is available that includes a pre-collision system, parking assist, wide-view front monitor, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. This safety technology package requires the optional $2,125 Navigation System includes a GPS navigation with realtime traffic feeds and voice recognition. An optional $350 backup monitor is available.

The Lexus HS 250h achieved almost all 5-stars in the U.S. NHTSA crash tests, with 5-stars for frontal driver, side driver, frontal passenger, and rear passenger; 4-stars for roll-over. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Lexus HS250h its best rating for front crash test. Other IIHS tests have not been conducted on this new car.

Future

At this March 2010 New York International Auto Show, Lexus is showing off the Lexus CT 200h sportback hybrid. You may be able to place your order in early 2011. This is another hybrid-only Lexus offering. Fuel economy may be better than the 250h, because the 200h uses a smaller 1.8L engine, the same size as the Prius. “The CT 200h is expected to lead the class in fuel economy and deliver low emissions, but the CT 200h isn’t just about being a hybrid, it’s about having fun,” said Mark Templin, Lexus division group vice president and general manager. In future years, plug-in hybrid Lexus models are likely to be introduced. Lexus, a Division of Toyota, could easily incorporate the drive system of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Other Cars to Investigate

Lexus RX 450h is a premium hybrid SUV with room for 5 people and much more cargo room than the 250h sedan, but starts at over $42,000. For a powerful SUV, it still conserves with 30 mpg and 6.1 tons of CO2e. Unlike the Lexus HS 250 hybrid, the SUV has an AWD option.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a smooth riding traditional 4-door midsized sedan that is made in America. It offers more room than the Lexus HS250h, easily seats 5, better fuel economy at 41 mpg city, 39 mpg combined, a number of safety features, premium options, but is likely to price $7,000 to $10,000 more than the Lexus hybrid when orders can be placed in the fall of 2010. Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid has essentially the same hybrid drive system as the Lexus HS 250h and about the same mileage. The Camry has 101 cubic feet of passenger space making it a midsize, bigger than 90 cubic feet for the compact Lexus hybrid. The Camry hybrid also offers a 40/60 drop down rear seat for expanded cargo. The Camry Hybrid prices about $8,000 less than the Lexus HS 250h.

Clean Fleet Report 2010 Top 10 Hybrids