ST. LOUIS — With gas prices at or near record highs, if you're in the market to buy a car right now, fuel efficiency might be high on your wish list.
And while the up-front costs are often more than their conventional gasoline counterparts, Consumer Reports found most hybrids will save you money over the long term.
“Hybrids have a gasoline-powered engine and a battery-powered electric motor that work together to optimize efficiency," said Alex Knizak, Consumer Reports' car expert. "We compared hybrid and non-hybrid versions of some popular vehicles and found that fuel savings could make up for many hybrids’ additional up-front purchase price.”
Using a gas price of $4 per gallon and driving 12,000 miles a year, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will pay off its higher cost in four years, the Honda Accord Hybrid in three and the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid in only two. And if gas prices go up to 5-dollars per gallon, the payback period for the Santa Fe Hybrid could drop to just one year.
“Beyond fuel economy, some hybrids perform better in our tests than the gas-only version of the same model," Knizak said. "For example, the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid rides better, quieter, and shifts smoother than the gas-only Santa Fe and it’s quicker in our acceleration tests too.”
Consumer Reports also found hybrids often have higher owner satisfaction scores than their conventional counterparts.
And if a new hybrid isn’t in your budget, consider a used one.
“When buying a used car, we say the sweet spot is to look for a well-maintained 5-year-old vehicle," Knizak said. "Not only has it gone through a significant part of the depreciation cycle, but it was also designed and built recently enough to get modern safety and convenience features.”
And if you are in the market for a car, but you’re not ready to try a hybrid, check out our website where we’ve put Consumer Reports’ list of fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles.