Going Hybrid to Save On Gas
Hybrids straddling both the EV and ICE worlds have become a commonsensical approach for car owners not wanting an EV just yet, but still wanting to do their part for the environment.
Related article: EV Owners are Causing an Obesity Epidemic
The arguments for going Hybrid over gas comes down to two current fundamental truths: Hybrids significantly cut down on carbon emissions in comparison to gas-only vehicles; and you will save money in the long run.
The Benefits of going Hybrid
According to a past CR newsletter, the benefits of owning a Hybrid include:
Higher mpg: Most hybrid SUVs get more than 35 mpg, and most hybrid sedans get more than 45 mpg.
Easy to use: Unlike a pure electric vehicle, you don’t have to plug in a hybrid. Simply refuel at any gas station.
Better to drive: CR’s tests show that the hybrid versions of many cars have more power and smoother acceleration than similar gas-only models.
Not All Hybrids are Equal
However, not all Hybrids are equal. In fact while some hybrid cars, trucks, and SUVs pay for themselves right from the first fill-up, some Hybrid models do not offer this benefit so much in comparison.
To help consumers choose the hybrid models that will prove to be most beneficial to your wallet, they’ve done the research and even the math for you:
“Below, we did the math to help you find the hybrids that will start saving you money the fastest and a few that won’t. We calculated the payoff time using $3.75-a-gallon gas and 12,000 miles a year, using CR’s exclusive real-world fuel economy ratings and comparing the sticker price for the hybrid and the most comparable non-hybrid version. If gas prices fall, those payback periods will become slightly longer. And if drivers put more miles on their car, the payback periods will shrink. The hybrids with the shortest payback period are all CR Recommended and have our Green Choice designation, which highlights vehicles with the cleanest emissions.”
Hybrids That Save the Most Money on Gas and Those That Don't
That said, here are their recommended and non-recommended hybrid selections for you that includes the number of years it would take to payback for themselves.
Those Recommended as Smart Choices
Lexus NX Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $41,955 - $57,805
CR MPG: Overall 38 / City 37 / Hwy 39 mpg
#1 of 25 Luxury compact SUVs
When you’ll start saving: Day one. The gas-only NX350 costs just $175 more than the comparably equipped NX350h hybrid, But the hybrid gets 38 mpg overall compared with the gas-only NX’s 25 mpg overall.
Fuel savings per year: About $615
Ford Maverick Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $22,595 - $28,355
CR MPG: Overall 37 / City 33 / Hwy 39 mpg
#1 of 3 Small pickup trucks
When you’ll start saving: Day one. The gas-only Maverick’s costs about $1,000 more and gets only 23 mpg overall, but it does allow you to tow twice as much (up to 4,000 pounds), and there is an option for all-wheel drive.
Fuel savings per year: About $660.
Lexus RX Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $52,235 - $57,045
CR MPG: Overall 34 / City 29 / Hwy 38 mpg
#2 of 15 Luxury midsized SUVs
When you’ll start saving: Within the first six months of ownership.
Fuel savings per year: Not provided
Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $21,700 - $27,425
CR MPG: Overall 48 / City 37 / Hwy 59 mpg
#1 of 16 Compact cars
When you’ll start saving: Just one year. “The Corolla Hybrid LE we tested got a whopping 48 mpg overall and cost just $310 more than a comparable gas-only Corolla LE that got a still commendable 36 mpg overall.”
Fuel savings per year: Around $313
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $36,210 - $41,870
CR MPG: Overall 30 / City 23 / Hwy 37 mpg
#1 of 16 Midsized SUVs
When you’ll start saving: About two years. The Santa Fe Hybrid SEL at 30 mpg overall costs about $660 more than a similar gas-only SEL with 24 mpg.
Fuel savings per year: About $375.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $36,620 - $53,025
CR MPG: Overall 35 / City 27 / Hwy 41 mpg
#2 of 18 Midsized SUVs 3-row
When you’ll start saving: Two years. Highlander Hybrid XLE at 35 mpg overall and costs about $1,270 more than a comparable non-hybrid XLE with 22 mpg to its cred.
Fuel savings per year: About $760.
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $31,350 - $44,760
CR MPG: Overall 35 / City 29 / Hwy 40 mpg
#5 of 24 Compact SUVs
When you’ll start saving: About three years. “The Tucson Hybrid SEL we bought costs about $1,225 more than a comparable gas-only model but gets 35 mpg overall in our tests compared with the gas-only model’s 26 mpg.”
Fuel savings per year: Nearly $445.
Honda CR-V Hybrid 2023
Price Range: $32,400 - $39,100
CR MPG: Overall 35 / City 31 / Hwy 38 mpg
#1 of 24 Compact SUVs
When you’ll start saving: About three years. The CR-V Hybrid Sport costs about $1,400 more than a non-hybrid CR-V EX.
Fuel savings per year: $445.
Hybrids Not Recommended
Higher MSRP and overly long-expected savings return periods are shared factors that make the following models not recommended by CR analysts who identified the following models and their shortcomings:
Ford F-150 Hybrid: “The PowerBoost hybrid we tested registered 20 mpg overall, just 1 mile better than the 2.7-liter turbo V6 non-hybrid, even though it costs $3,300 more. At that rate, it would take you 28 years to make up the difference!”
Kia Sorento Hybrid SUV: “At 28 mpg overall, this version gets only 3 mpg more than the conventional Sorento, and it would take 13 years to pay off the initial price difference.”
Honda Accord Hybrid: “We like this sedan for many reasons, but Honda’s 2023 redesign cut fuel economy from 47 mpg to 40 mpg. As a result, the payback period for the hybrid increased to eight years.”
For additional articles on buying a hybrid vehicle, here are some helpful Consumer Reports recommendations for your consideration:
- Best Hybrid Cars Under $35,000
- Toyota Hybrid Questions Answered by This Toyota Dealer
- Calculate the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Cost Against the Non-Hybrid RAV4
Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on “Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair” website, the Zen Mechanic blog and on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.
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