Here’s a tempting combination of traits in a new-to-you ride: technology, luxury and great fuel economy. Travelling by luxury car is fantastic because you’ll arrive at your destination relaxed and at ease and look like a boss doing it, and fuel efficiency is great, because it leaves more money in your pocket for things of the non fuel-related variety, and means you’ll spend less time at the gas station lined up behind elderly lottery ladies before being upsold 73 varieties of car washes that are all fancy.
A wholesome combination, the fuel-efficient luxury car. So here’s a look at some of my favourites, how they stack up as a used-car buy, and how to shop smart for the ones that interest you.
2010 Lexus HS 250h, dashboard, 2013 Lexus CT200h dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Background Info: We’ll combine these two since they’re under-the-skin twins. The HS 250h was the four-door compact hybrid luxury sedan that enjoyed a short life that spanned 2010 and 2011. The CT 200h is a still-available hatchback model built on the same platform derived from the Toyota Prius. The Lexus Hybrid Drive system powers both units, slightly more aggressively in the HS, which got 187 horsepower to the CT’s 134. Common praise came for fuel mileage, a solid ride, more-than-adequate power output in the HS, powertrain smoothness and unique, functional interior. Outward visibility was also highly rated. The drive selector, which allowed these machines to be dialed into various calibrations like Sport or Eco was also appreciated. As hybrids, expect good all-around mileage that gets even better in stop-and-go driving. All the must-have goodies were on board, including Bluetooth, navigation, available LED lights, heated seats, automatic climate control and plenty more.
Inspection Notes: Brake hard from a moderate speed, noting any unwelcomed sounds or sensations. Any heavy lurching or ‘grinding’ sound effects could indicate a problem with the brakes or brake actuator, which should be inspected as they’re tied into the hybrid drive system. Confirm proper operation of all interior electronics, paying special attention to the navigation and infotainment system, and all digital readouts. Ensure the shifter works as expected. If it seems ‘sticky’, a broken or damaged spring mechanism inside may be the culprit. Signs of a pink fluid dripping down the side of the engine, or onto the ground beneath the vehicle could be related to a leaky or about-to-fail water pump that cools the inverter for the hybrid system, too.
As with any used hybrid, a full check over by a trained mechanic and hybrid technician should be considered mandatory ahead of your purchase. That inspection can reveal any hidden issues concealed in the computer system; also check the battery, electric motors and general hybrid drive system health. Purchasing a used hybrid without a qualified inspection is not advised.