Today you’ll select one to take home for keeps, whether you like it or not.
You might never see one, but the HS was an important step for Lexus. In response to reported customer interest in a dedicated hybrid luxury model, Lexus debuted the HS in 2010. Based on an MC platform borrowed from the Corolla and Prius, the HS was the first dedicated Lexus hybrid, as well as the brand’s first offering with an inline-four engine arrangement. The brand sourced its 2.4-liter and hybrid system from the Camry. 187 horsepower was on tap, delivered to the front wheels via CVT. A bonafide Rare Ride, U.S. sales peaked in 2010 at just over 10,000 units and fell precipitously from there. 2012 was the last year for the HS in North America, though there were 5 leftover in 2013.
IS 250 C
The only convertible of today’s trio is also the only one without a hybrid engine. Based on the rather successful IS sedan, Lexus added a folding metal roof convertible to the mix in 2010. Never a beauty, the C version of the IS looked like an afterthought upon any visual inspection. Power was provided by a 2.5-liter four sourced from the Camry — or a 3.5-liter V6, also from the Camry. 204 horsepower traveled to the rear in the four-cylinder version, delivered by the selected six-speed automatic. The IS C never sold well; Lexus dropped it after the 2015 model year with no replacement.
While the HS was flopping about at dealers across the country, Lexus introduced another dedicated hybrid into its lineup. The CT went on sale in early 2011 as the “Creative Touring” hatchback with a sportier edge over its HS sibling. Based on the same MC platform, the CT utilized a different hybrid system: the 1.8-liter inline four lifted directly from the Prius. Lexus decided to use the 200 numbering system because the hatchback “had the power” of a gasoline-powered two-liter. Combined horsepower was 134 — a small number.
Thankfully the CT was light at 3,131 pounds, about 600 pounds lighter than the HS (though its power-to-weight ratio is still worse). The CT sold more respectably than the HS, reaching around 15,000 sales in most years. A refresh for 2013 made the CT the first Lexus ever to wear the spindle grille. Sales trickled off in 2016 and 2017, and Lexus cancelled the CT without replacement that year.
Three luxury compact fails, one Buy. Choose carefully!