Consumer Reports

Do Fuel Savings Make Up for the Price Tag of a Hybrid?

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With gas prices at or near record highs, if you’re in the market to buy a car right now, fuel efficiency might be high on your wish list! As Consumer Reports explains, there are lots of other good reasons—in addition to fuel economy—to consider buying a hybrid vehicle. 

Hybrids have a gasoline-powered engine and a battery-powered electric motor that work together to optimize efficiency. Consumer Reports compared hybrid and non-hybrid versions of some popular vehicles and found that fuel savings could make up for many hybrids’ additional up-front purchase price.

Using a gas price of $4 per gallon and driving 12,000 miles a year, we found that the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid would pay off its higher cost in four years. The Honda Accord Hybrid would pay it off in three years; the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, only two. And if gas prices go up to $5 per gallon, the payback period for the Santa Fe Hybrid could drop to just one year.  

Beyond fuel economy, some hybrids perform better in our tests than the gas-only version of the same model. For example, the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid rides better, is quieter, and shifts more smoothly than the gas-only Santa Fe. It’s quicker in our acceleration tests, too.

Consumer Reports also finds that hybrids often have higher owner satisfaction scores than their conventional counterparts.

And if a new hybrid isn’t in your budget, consider buying a used one. When shopping for a used car, we say the sweet spot is a well-maintained 5-year-old vehicle. It not only has gone through a significant part of the depreciation cycle but also was designed and built recently enough to have modern safety and convenience features.

And if you are in the market for a car but you’re not ready to try a hybrid, check out Consumer Reports’ website where there's a list of fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles.

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