Buy/Drive/Burn: Forgotten Offerings From Lexus in 2012

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Car manufacturers don’t always strike a chord with consumers, and even studious brand Lexus is not immune from model flops. Back in 2012, the company offered three compact vehicles nobody wanted.

Today you’ll select one to take home for keeps, whether you like it or not.

HS 250h

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 V6 or a 3.5-liter V6, both sourced from Japanese market Toyota Crown variants. 204 horsepower traveled to the rear in the 2.5 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.

CT 200h

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!

[Images: Lexus]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Land Ark Land Ark on Jun 13, 2019

    I was looking at the CT200 for my mom as a replacement for her IS300 Sportcross thinking it was the modern equivalent. I think it looks good in the right colors, blue in particular, and it had everything she would need. I took an F Sport model out for a drive and man was it SLOW. I put it in sport mode and it was no better. It also didn't feel like a high quality car from a brand that's supposed to make you feel special. The IS300 is no LS, but at least it makes her feel like she's driving a sports car when she wants to.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 13, 2019

    I'd burn the HS, as anyone with a modicum of pattern recognition can tell it's a Corolla. I'd drive the IS250C, because it's the only actual car of this sorry lot. And the only one actually made in an actual Lexus factory facility. The other two were upgraded in a shed behind a Toyota facility. Burn the CT200h, it's just another-market Corolla hatch, not made to Lexus standards. Oh, I see I burnt two of them. My bad.

  • Safeblonde You mean Reagan-era in story?
  • Bd2 Just imagine if in 5 decades the Telluride name were to be used on a new line of sporty 2 seater supersonic hovercraft.
  • The Oracle This is a proper plastic turd that has a wee bit ‘o performance.
  • Jalop1991 "Now, it’s an electric crossover wearing a Ford badge that utilizes Volkswagen’s MEB platform...." You misspelled "crossdresser".
  • The Oracle Been a good read so far.
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