How to choose which hybrid to buy ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: How to choose which hybrid to buy

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How to choose which hybrid to buy

So, you've decided to buy a hybrid.

You've heard all they hype about hybrid technology. How they are so good for the environment by running on electric at low speeds and gas at high speeds, giving you the best of both worlds. Or perhaps you're more interested in fuel economy, and have heard the rumors you can actually save money buying a hybrid in the long run. Or maybe, you just want to qualify for the tax credit. Or perhaps you saw Kermit the Frog on TV.

Whatever your reasons, your only choice now is which hybrid to buy? Will you go with the most popular hybrid and buy the Toyota Prius? Or perhaps you're just interested in price? City driving? Highway driving? SUV vs Car?

If it's a hybrid SUV you are interested in, you now have five choices. In order of how much its going to cost you, there is the Saturn Vue Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX 400h. Each has its pros and cons, but they are all worth a look. The Ford Escape gets the best mileage (36/31), the RX 400h is going to delivery luxury (for a hefty price), the Saturn Vue Green Line (hybrid) gives you an economic choice (but you get fewer internal gadgets), and the Toyota Highlander gives you good power (V6 engine vs the V4 Escape) and with Toyota quality.

If you're looking for great fuel economy, the Honda Insight (out of production in September) and the Toyota Prius are what you're looking for. Each car outperforms every other vehicle on the road when it comes to fuel economy at the price of internal space. Both cars are compacts (the Insight is a two-seater).

If you want to stand out from the crowd, these two are the most likely to turn heads, as well. Both are styled for air flow, giving them a unique look that says: here is a hybrid.

If you're looking for the best price on a hybrid, the Honda Civic is the way to go. Starting at $14,760 (prices vary up to $24,440), none of the other cars can come close. You can also count the Saturn Vue Hybrid Green Line as the newest hybrid on the road for a great price. With prices ranging from $17,370 to $23,525, you're not going to get a better deal on a hybrid.

If luxury is your thing, there are currently three choices. The Lexus GS 450h gives you every bell and whistle you can think of for a whopping $54,900. The Lexus RX 400h is the luxury SUV for Toyota/Lexus and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid is the luxury vehicle from Ford. The Mariner is a basic twin of the Ford Escape Hybrid, but with all the options (and priced at a lot less than the other two).

If you want to go with the crowd, the best selling hybrids on the road today are the Toyota Prius and Toyota Camry. The Toyota Camry is a new comer to the hybrid field but quickly jumped into the no. 2 spot in sales of hybrid.

The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are two of the best selling vehicles in the world, so you would expect adding a hybrid component to either one would quickly pay off for the two Japanese carmakers. Honda Accord sales, however, have languished. The difference is easy to see. The Toyota Camry gets an EPA rating of 40 city/38 highway. The Accord? At best 25/34. Honda built a performance hybrid at the expense of fuel economy and is paying the price of their ill fated choice. Sales have not been strong and production was lowered. It seems the extra power being delivered wasn't worth the extra premium.

Price Range* City* Highway*
Year** Make Model Size Min Max Min Max Min Max
2006 Honda Insight Compact Coupe $ 19,330 $ 21,530 57
2006 Honda Accord Midsize Sedan $ 18,225 $ 32,990 20 25 29 34
2006 Honda Civic Compact Sedan $ 14,760 $ 24,440 28 49 39 51
2007 Lexus GS 450h Midsize Sedan $ 54,900
25 28

2007 Toyota Camry Midsize Sedan $ 25,900
2006 Toyota Prius Compact Sedan $ 21,725
2007 Ford Escape Compact SUV $ 25,600 $ 27,205 33 36 29 31
2007 Lexus RX 400h Midsize SUV $ 41,180 $ 42,580 31 33 27 28
2006 Mercury Mariner Compact SUV $ 29,225
2007 Saturn Vue Midsize SUV $ 17,370 $ 23,525 19 27 25 32
2006 Toyota Highlander Midsize SUV $ 33,030 $ 39,290 31 33 27 28

* Range of values depends on trim/engine/etc...
** 2007 numbers provided where available.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at


Anonymous said...

I wish I could afford one. Thanks for contributing to the Group Writing Project at ProBlogger.
My How To is up also.

Graham English said...

My mom got a great trade-in value on her Prius. Unheard of value!

My how to is up.

Unknown said...

Up until recently, the used Prius (and Insights) were going for ridiculous amounts because of the limited numbers available. Prices of used hybrids are falling (not much, but some) because more hybrid cars (and suvs) are on the road.

Anonymous said...

I like the Kermit the Frog commerical. What can I say, i'm simple minded!
Nice article about hybrids. I know little on the topic, so I found it quite interesting.

Mama Duck said...

Oooo, great article indeed. Hey, I'm looking at this on firefox on a Mac and your lines of your main body post are going out of your middle column, overlapping your right sidebar - might want to look at that ;). Our how-to is up as well if you'd like to check it out!!

Anonymous said...

Very useful list...I've been thinking of it for the future; you've done a lot of work on this...thanks!

Unknown said...

Mama duck, I'm afraid I have no idea how to fix it... I hope it's not affecting too many people, though.

Thanks Olivia. I'm glad you found the list useful. If there's any more information you'd like to see, please let me know. I'm always looking for different things to look into, but I'm not always sure I'm giving out what others want to see. So, please let me know what you'd like to see.

Anonymous said...

You call the Prius a compact, but I thought I read that it was a mid-size car.

Unknown said...

It looks like you're right about the size of the Prius. The EPA classifies cars by its interior space and the Prius is classified as a midsize car. But, when I was doing research on for this post, I was looking at Edmunds (along with some other sources) and Edmunds classifies the Prius as a compact.

Different sources seem to classify cars based on their own criteria. For instance, Forbes classifies cars as the EPA does on most cars, but sometimes bases its classification on the "measurement of the distance between the front and rear wheels (wheelbase) to define its size."

Anonymous said...

Mike -- your text is overflowing the middle section into the right sidebar under Safari on MacOS X, too.

So, on the Mac you've got problems with two browsers, which use two different codebases. I am assuming that the Firefox problems also mean you've got similar problems under other OSes, too.

If you don't know how to fix this, you might at least want to try throwing some alternative browsers at the problem on your own platform, and see if you can make some changes to the page which -- you never know what the problem might be, or what the fix might be.

Unknown said...

Actually, the issue I'm having isn't browser specific, it's the table. When viewed at a smaller screen resolution, the table overflows the borders. I don't know what to do to fix the problem. I'm just not that technically proficient when it comes to CSS or web page programming.

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