Lexus unveils hybrid sedan

The arrival of the 2010 HS 250h hybrid may have been the main attraction during Lexus of Las Vegas’ official launch party last week, but the Japanese manufacturer’s first dedicated hybrid and the fourth alternate-fuel offering in its luxury lineup was momentarily upstaged by general manager Lee Butler’s other big news.

Butler announced that, in the next few months, ground will be broken on a 10-acre parcel in the Valley Automall for Lexus of Henderson, a new $40 million, 70,000-plus-square-foot facility.

"We’re going against the mold," Butler said, referring to both the HS 250h and the company’s plans for new construction. "The demand from our customers for quality and value is what drives our sales. This is why, especially in this challenging economy, we need a second location."

And, according to facility manager Bill O’Connor, whose task it’s been to research and implement the dealership’s award-winning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accreditation, otherwise known as LEED, the new dealership will also be a flagship example of conservation and green business practices.

So, it was an especially festive and environmentally friendly occasion for Lexus of Las Vegas.

With the arrival of the 35-mpg HS 250h, Lexus can boast the best combined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mileage rating of any luxury vehicle in the U.S. Available in standard and premium models, the HS 250h was featured prominently in the showroom at Lexus of Las Vegas during the debut event. Flanking an impressive Lexus monogrammed ice sculpture, a pair of HS 250h sedans demanded all attention and notice from more than 250 guests, who were treated to inspired French hors d’oeuvres, champagne, treats from chocolatier Norman Love, as well as live acoustic music.

News of this caliber attracted several local celebrities and politicians, including comedian Rita Rudner, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen and former Nevada Sen. Richard Bryan.

"This technology is the future," said Bryan, who prides himself on being somewhat of a car enthusiast and historian. "They’ve certainly come a long way with this knowledge."

Henderson is, of course, ecstatic to have a new business opening within its borders, Hafen said. "In this economy, it’s a great leap of faith to embark on any project of this magnitude. We all hope this investment in Henderson is the beginning of an economic revival." Hafen also was impressed with the HS 250h, noting his daughter, Tessa, drives a hybrid Toyota (Lexus’ parent company) and loves the vehicle.

Las Vegas Councilman Anthony concurred with Hafen’s assessment of the hybrid and the prospects of a new business. "Whenever someone opens a new establishment, it translates into generation of tax dollars, which is good for everyone. Plus, the hybrid technology is great for the environment."

The HS 250h utilizes Lexus’ first four-cylinder gas engine and the latest hybrid system to take advantage of the company’s continuous engineering advances to help minimize emissions and maximize fuel economy. The twin-cam Atkinson-cycle engine with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence alone has an output of 147 horsepower. In combination with the hybrid drive motor, the HS 250h generates 187 total system horsepower and nearly zero evaporative emissions.

Both the standard and Premium HS 250h models emit 70 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new car. Using regular, 87-octane gasoline, the car received EPA-estimated ratings of 35 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway.

Ron and Kay Petersen already own a 2008 Lexus ES350, but they like the HS 250h’s mileage figures and hybrid technology.

"This certainly looks like where we’re going in the future," Ron Petersen said. Kay Petersen found the HS 250h to be luxurious and big enough for a family.

Standard features on the HS 250h include leather-trimmed seats; a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat; 10-speaker, 137-watt audio system with a six-disc CD changer; a subwoofer and center speaker; Bluetooth for phone and music streaming capabilities; integrated subscription satellite radio (includes 90-day trial); USB/iPod connectivity operated via steering wheel controls or the display screen; and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The HS 250h incorporates a standard class-leading 10-air bag Supplemental Restraint System and front active head rests.

The HS 250h Premium model adds heated/ventilated front seats trimmed in semi-aniline leather; 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels; rain-sensing windshield wipers; heated electrochromic exterior mirrors; genuine wood interior trim; and a new memory system that allows individual driver settings for seat, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, outside mirrors and air conditioning settings to be recalled automatically by individual key fobs.

Jerry Kramer has owned seven Lexus vehicles since 1991. He still has two, one of which is an LS460.

"I’m looking for a greener, more environmentally cooperative car that gets better mileage," said Kramer, who owns SK+G, one of the largest advertising agencies in Nevada. "Could I drive this to Los Angeles and be comfortable? Why not? We’ve just got to stop spending money on oil. I think I’m going to get one."

To drive a 2010 Lexus HS 250h, stop by Lexus of Las Vegas at 6600 W. Sahara Ave. For more information, call 942-6600 or visit

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