AAA Grades Hybrid Cars ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: AAA Grades Hybrid Cars

Friday, May 02, 2008

AAA Grades Hybrid Cars

Most people, when considering buying a hybrid, look to fuel economy first and foremost. But that's not all there is to buying a car and AAA knows it. So they put together a report on four different 2008 model hybrid cars (pdf): the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid and Lexus RX 400h.

The Prius and Civic are smaller, more fuel economic choices, while the Escape and RX are SUV vehicles. The only true luxury vehicle on the list is the Lexus RX 400h, but all hybrids tend to come with amenities.

AAA rated the vehicles on emissions, fuel economy, crashworthiness, braking, acceleration, handling, cargo carrying capacity, ride quality, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, maneuverability, and roominess.

The Prius and Civic were praised for their fuel economy, while all four scored very well for their emissions. The emissions is based on class, which is why the RX 400h gets a high rating for emissions, but not for fuel economy, which is compared across all vehicles. Not surprisingly, they all scored poorly for interior space and luggage room, but you may not have realized how well they do on ease of entry and exit.

One thing I think I really need to point out is the RX 400h is a luxury vehicle designed for performance, not necessarily fuel economy. While it does better than others in its class, it's not really designed the same way as the other hybrids being shown.

Here's a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses from the AAA report:

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid
Strengths:
-Extremely low emissions (near zero)
-High mpg and performance
-Good headroom
-Ample room for cargo

Weaknesses:
-Difficult entry due to high door sill
-Mushy feeling brake pedal
-Engine and road noise
-Rear window does not open fully

2008 Honda Civic Hybrid
Strengths:
-Extremely low emissions (near zero)
-Excellent fuel economy
-Easy to see warning lights
-Sound system features XM radio

Weaknesses:
-Noisy at high speed
-Slowest car tested
-Small sun visors
-No rear center armrest or rear cupholders

2008 Lexus RX400h
Strengths:
-Good fuel economy in SUV this size
-Powerful, good acceleration
-Roomy, comfortable interior, fit & finish
-Auto dimming mirrors, adaptive HID headlights

Weaknesses:
-Requires premium grade fuel
-Torque steer. pulls to one side
-High purchase price
-Limited rear visibility, tire & wind noise

2008 Toyota Prius
Strengths:
-Extremely low emissions (near zero)
-Excellent fuel economy
-Good handling
- High tech styling & layout

Weaknesses:
-Small sun visors
-Lacks power, especially for passing
-Unusual controls
-Rear visibility

On a scale of 10, each of the 10 test criteria were checked off. Not surprisingly, they all scored well since they all had very high ratings for fuel economy, which gives them high ratings for emissions. But that tended to be offset by low scores in interior space and luggage room

Test Criteria







Ford Escape Hybrid FWD





Honda Civic Hybrid




Lexus RX 400h




Toyota Prius

EPA Emissions Score







10.00





10.00




9.00




10.00

Braking







5.33





6.78




3.90




5.09

Crashworthiness







7.36





5.19




8.92




6.34

Visibility







7.90





7.00




8.00




7.20

Slalom Handling







6.61





7.11




2.24




9.65

Ride Quality







7.50





7.71




7.50




7.00

Fuel Economy







6.31





8.86




2.66




10.00

Interior Noise







4.76





1.61




5.53




3.86

Acceleration







6.06





0.00




9.92




4.72

Ease of Entry and Exit







7.04





7.10




7.66




7.15

Interior Size







4.92





3.44




3.72




3.42

Turning Circle







6.60





7.90




6.56




8.71

Luggage Capacity







2.89





0.22




4.51




0.83

Total







83.28





72.92




80.12




83.97

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2 comments:

fomocona said...

All hybrids have good and bad features and in the full report AAA does a good job of highlighting each hybrid's characteristics. The report also states that the 2008 Escape Hybrid was "a good overall achiever - It scored above 5.0 in ten of the 13 categories". However, in the test data it scored comparatively well in braking, yet "mushy feeling brake pedal" was listed under the weak points. (This could be related to the regenerative brakes used to charge the batteries.) Also, "Room for cargo" was listed under the strong points but it only scored 2.89 for luggage capacity. Interesting dichotomies and it shows that when choosing a hybrid it really comes down to picking one that best serves your driving needs.

Mike said...

Absolutely. If you're interested in fuel economy, you need to pick the car you can use and work with it.

You seem very interested in ford for some reason?

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