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Driving a Hybrid: Weighing the Costs & Benefits

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6a00e550ae4e83883401157148061b970c-200wi Thinking about buying a hybrid, but concerned over the high premium (price difference) that would counteract your gas savings? Depending on the way you drive, how long you’ll keep the car, and what you decide to buy, a hybrid could (in its lifespan) either save you money or end up costing around the same as a non-hybrid version. With hybrids, not only does gas mileage increase, it flip-flops: most cars have a higher highway mpg rating than city, but hybrids do much better in the city than on the highway because of their reliance on electric power up to 40 mph. So city drivers have the advantage when it comes to buying hybrids, but there are models that benefit highway drivers just as much.


Hybrid versions of cars that are already known and loved seem appealing – and while their environmental impact is reduced, which is an awesome incentive on its own – gas savings and other hybrid incentives may not make up for the higher cost. For example, while the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid (41 city/36 hwy, $25,293) gets almost twice the city rating of its non-hybrid cousin (22 city/31 hwy, $18,272), there’s only a 5 mpg highway increase, and about a $7,021 premium (that is, the difference between the averages spent on a Ford Fusion Hybrid and a Ford Fusion).


Just because a car gets better mileage than its cousin doesn’t mean it’s the best deal out there. However, there is, admittedly, one car whose price is definitely worth the extra miles per gallon: the Prius. The 3rd Generation Prius gets 51 miles to the gallon on the city, and a whopping 48 on the highway, for about $24,011 – so it’s a win-win no matter where you drive.


As far as hybrid SUVs go, improvements are improvements, but they’ll always guzzle more gas than a smaller vehicle. For example, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s gas mileage, at 27 city/25 hwy isn’t much – if at all – better than the non-hybrid Ford Fusion, and it costs about $15,855 more. Imagine the comparison between the non-hybrid Highlander and the Hybrid Fusion (hint: there’s a $2,735 savings involved, on top of far-improved mpg). After all, you’ve gotta spend money to make money – not to save money.


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