Hybrid Shopping Considerations Beyond Fuel Economy
Earlier we had discovered which new models of hybrids are ones that will save you the most money on gas per a Consumer Reports analysis last July. Today, however, we find out that there’s more to gas economy when choosing a Hybrid that will make you happy and how some stack up against each other that CR analysts categorize as those you will love, those that should be ignored, and those that you will want to avoid.
Why Go Hybrid Instead of Gas or Electric Right Now?
The arguments for going Hybrid over gas or electric comes down to two current fundamental truths: Hybrids significantly cut down on carbon emissions in comparison to ICE vehicles; and, the charging infrastructure for a totally electric vehicle world is not there yet and may be as far as a decade down the road.
While EV purists argue that their EVs are more efficient, there’s a lot to be said about just how environmentally friendly these vehicle types actually are. Be that as it may, however, Hybrids straddling both the EV and ICE worlds, might be a more commonsensical approach during what will become an inevitable EV world order.
“They can be a transition technology that helps lower emissions today,” says Chris Harto, senior energy policy analyst at CR.
According to the recent CR newsletter, Hybrids make sense because by combining a “…battery pack, an electric motor that drives the car at low speeds, and a gas engine that kicks in for higher speeds, climbing hills, or recharging the battery. Regenerative braking uses the car’s momentum as it slows down or coasts to create extra electricity.”
“Hybrids are so fuel-efficient because they utilize energy that would otherwise be wasted,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center, who adds that if car shoppers have the option of buying a Hybrid, that they should go Hybrid.
“They get better fuel economy and are often quicker and quieter, too. In nearly every case, the hybrid version is the better option,” says Fisher.
Not Yesteryear’s Hybrid
If shoppers do consider going Hybrid, they need to understand that a lot has changed toward the improvements of Hybrids that has focused not just on fuel economy, but the overall ride and ownership experience as well. While yesteryear models of Hybrids are popular and remain recommended, buying a newer model of Hybrid has much more to offer with the caveat that “Not all Hybrids are equal.”
That was message in the latest Hybrid-related news from Consumer Reports analysts who determined that Hybrid shoppers will be happier with some choices over others.
That said, here is a summary of the Hybrid models they consider the best, “Mild Hybrids” that don’t make it as a true Hybrid in their ratings system, and Hybrids that are best avoided right now based on costs and reliability. The Hybrids in the listing are compared against their gas-only equivalent models.
CR’S TOP-RATED HYBRID VEHICLES
Those to Love
1. 2022 Lexus NX (NX350h model)
When you’ll start saving: Day One. The NX350h we bought costs $175 less than the gas-only NX350, so you save right away. The hybrid gets 13 more mpg.
Fuel savings per year: $656
2. 2022 Hyundai Tucson (Hybrid SEL model)
When you’ll start saving: Three years. The Hybrid SEL we bought costs $1,225 more than the comparable gas-only version, but the Hybrid gets 9 mpg more.
Fuel savings per year: $475
3. 2022 Ford Maverick (Hybrid model)
When you’ll start saving: Day One. The gas-only Maverick costs more, so you save right away by buying the standard hybrid. The gas-only version has greater towing and AWD.
Fuel savings per year: $792
4. 2022 Toyota Highlander (Hybrid XLE model)
When you’ll start saving: Two years. The Hybrid XLE costs $1,620 more than a comparable gas-only XLE with a V6, but the hybrid version gets 13 mpg more overall.
Fuel savings per year: $810
5. 2022 Toyota Prius
When you’ll start saving: About seven years. The hybrid-only Prius costs $2,810 more than the gas-only Corolla Hatchback, but the Prius gets 16 mpg more and is the one recommended by CR.
Fuel savings per year: $410
6. 2022 Hyundai Elantra (Elantra Hybrid)
When you’ll start saving: About four years. The Elantra Hybrid costs $1,900 more than the gas-only version, but the hybrid version gets 15 mpg more overall.
Fuel savings per year: $455
7. 2022 Honda Accord (Accord Hybrid EX)
When you’ll start saving: Three years. The Accord Hybrid EX we tested got 47 mpg overall, and it costs $1,435 more than a comparable gas-only version. The hybrid got 16 mpg more overall.
Fuel savings per year: $527
Those Without the Love
“Mild Hybrids” ---Also known as 48-volt Hybrids, these are the ones that cannot be driven on battery power alone, hence the “mild” moniker because they provide “…only minor fuel savings compared with a true hybrid,” say CR analysts. These models “…include BMW’s eBoost, Ram’s eTorque, and similar offerings from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.”
Those Not Recommended
Reliability problems and comparative costs and overly long-expected savings return periods are shared factors that make the Ford F-150 Hybrid, the Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrids, and the Kia Sorento Hybrid SUV models not recommended by CR analysts under their recent listing of “CR’s Top Rated Hybrid Vehicles.”
For a more detailed breakdown of each listed vehicle to get the full picture of its pluses and minuses, please visit the CR website. Note that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible in comparison when looking for the latest information to aid your car buying research.
For additional articles important need-to-know info for potential Hybrid shoppers, here are a few recommended articles:
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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