2010 Lexus HS 250h
There's success and then there's raging success. And while it's undeniable that Toyota's Prius fits in the latter category, hybrids typically don't inspire the same kind of rabid enthusiasm you'd see in, say, Camaro fans - who have already pre-ordered or purchased about 15,000 examples of the new 2010 Chevy Camaro. But the Lexus HS 250h is already past 10,000 orders in Japan, and it's not even on sale in the U.S. yet.
Japanese buyers had snatched up 1,500 of the cars in the first few weeks it was on sale, and demand has kept that pace since, surprising Lexus as much as anyone. That means that only a little over half of the total global supply for the first year - targeted for 25,000, according to Lexus - will be available to U.S. buyers. Already demand has outstripped available supply, with Japanese buyers having to wait about six months for delivery.
Priced at $34,200 before delivery and taxes, the new HS 250h certainly fits into a desirable niche, offering entry-luxury accommodations in a fairly fuel-efficient package, securing 35 mpg city and 34 mpg highway EPA ratings.
As we noted in our first drive report, though, the HS 250h may not always live up to those ratings - we saw efficiency drop below 22 mpg on hilly roads, and just 30 mpg when keeping up with quick California traffic.
Even with its potential shortcomings, the attractive pricing and green-washed cachet may mean the HS 250h is the next 'it' hybrid in the U.S., and that could spell trouble for U.S. supply of the car, according to Toyota spokesperson Monika Saito. "We hope there won't be a problem, but we'll see," she said.