While there is a lot of buzz surrounding hybrid electric cars right now, there seems to be a lot of misinformation relating to them, as well. I'll be trying to guide you through some of that I as I talk about the top five hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) that are available today.
The Five Best Hybrid Cars
1) The Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is the best hybrid car. As of right now, half of all hybrids sold are Prius and there are many reasons for that. Most hybrids today look like and act like regular gas-only cars. The only way you can tell most hybrids are hybrids is by the badging automakers put on the sides and rear paneling. Not so with the Prius.
Its unique design, has been harshly criticized by consumers who think it is just ugly. But the truth is the design is not there to please the eye. The lines and shape are designed to help the Prius cut through the air, thereby giving it the best fuel economy possible. A midsize sedan capable of 55 mpg combined, the Prius will only cost less to run than most sub-compacts. That high mileage rating gives the Prius the lowest emissions rating. According to fueleconomy.gov, the Prius emits only 3.5 tons of greenhouse gas each year and it's regularly awarded top honors when the 'Green' awards are presented.
2) Honda Civic Hybrid
At a combined 50 mpg, the Honda Civic Hybrid gives the Prius a run for its money. But it is smaller (the Civic is a compact) and not as distinctive as the Prius. And so, just driving down the street won't announce your attempt to save the world as loudly as if you were buying a Prius. And the sales reflect that.
The only issues Honda has with the Civic Electric Hybrid is its size and the inevitable comparison. There's not much Honda can do about the size. Although the Prius is not much bigger and it has that weird shape, the Civic is smaller. Since the Prius gets better fuel economy, it also emits fewer greenhouse gases. And so the Civic suffers in comparison to the its hybrid competition. Not only that, but its next closest rival is usually sitting right next to it on the lot. Many times, consumers will switch to the gas only hybrid Civic because it is cheaper and because it already gets great gas mileage. Honda has announced it will be producing a hybrid only vehicle in an effort to compete.
Put it all together and you get the second best hybrid car.
3a and 3b) Nissan Altima Electric Hybrid and Toyota Camry Electric Hybrid
The Nissan Altima Hybrid Electric Car is a great hybrid. Not only is the Altima a fun car to drive, it also comes with Toyotas Hybrid Synergy Drive which has been proven to be reliable. But therein lies the rub for Nissan. Since it does not have its own hybrid technology, yet, they claim they lose money on each hybrid sold. They have promised a hybrid car of their own by the next decade, but in the meantime, they are very reluctant to sell hybrids at all.
And so Nissan has limited sales of its lone hybrid to just eight states. The pr statement says they are limiting sales to those states with the most interest in hybrids. What comes closer to the truth is the Altima Hybrid Electric Car is being sold in only those states with the highest emissions rating.
But the Altima Hybrid is a great hybrid to own. It gets a combined 39 mpg and has a huge gas tank (20.0 gallons) which means you can go 702 miles between fill-ups. Its also rated just above the Toyota Camry Hybrid in greenhouse gas emissions.
Which brings us to the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The Camry is one of the top selling vehicles on the planet. The Camry Hybrid became the second most popular hybrid on the road almost immediately on its release. And it's not hard to see why. The Camry Hybrid also gets 39 mpg combined. Unlike the Prius, it does not come in that weird shape. And unlike the Civic, its not a compact. More room inside (not a lot more room, but enough to make you comfortable) and more room in the trunk means the Camry Hybrid, like the Nissan Altima Hybrid, are more practical choices than the Civic Hybrid. So, if you don't mind sacrificing some fuel economy for comfort, but don't want that funky shape, the Camry or Altima Hybrid Electric Cars could be just right for you.
5) Ford Escape Hybrid
Number 5 is actually hard to pick. There are several other HEVs available including Saturns Aura and Vue Greenline, the Lexus GS 450h, RX 400h and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. But the Escape Hybrid comes at a more reasonable price than the Lexus or Highlander Hybrids, while getting the best combined mpg (34 for FWD and 31 for 4WD) of the hybrid SUVs available today. The Saturn Hybrid Electric vehicles are termed mild hybrids, and as such are incapable of powering the vehicle on electric power alone.
The Ford Escape Electric Hybrid is a SUV hybrid. That gives it more room and gives the driver more options for those who are just interested in a sedan. While not as popular as the Highlander Hybrid, the Escape is a compact SUV that strives to get the most it can. The 2008 model is a big step up in terms of noise control and other features, while costing less than it used to. And if you want some luxury options, you could always upgrade to the Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The Escape and Mariner are basically the same vehicles, Mercury is just the luxury brand.
So, there you go. Those are my top five best hybrid cars. My ratings are based on my personal feelings, sales figures, dimensions, and probably most importantly, fuel economy. I don't believe hybrids would be as popular right now if gas prices weren't rising so dramatically. Despite the 'green' aspects involved (hybrids are usually at the front of the line when it comes to emissions ratings), its gasoline costs that are on the minds of most consumers today.
I won't go into any details, but here are some last pieces of information I have detailed elsewhere when it comes to looking into hybrid electric cars.
- You will save money in the long run (average of 3 to 5 years depending on the model) depending on how many miles you drive annually.
- Federal tax credits are nice, but now that they are phasing out for Toyota Hybrids, you may be able to get a deal.
- Some states offer rebates of their own. There are also some local perks to driving hybrids including solo access to HOV lanes and free parking.
- Some insurance companies will offer lower rates to hybrid car owners.
- If you don't mind driving a compact or subcompact, they may be a better deal for you. Anything larger than that and you should consider hybrids for their fuel savings if nothing else.