Hybrids: Worth the Price?


The letter “H” when it comes to automaking is the hottest thing going. On a day when reports of record drops in car salesfor most of the major automakers (behemoths in their day now being taken down by the David of gas prices joined by the fellow giant of a lagging economy) hit the front pages, there is one kind of car with lines to buy out the door: hybrids.

We’re all taking steps to make our lives more ‘green’. We should. But, when we’re straining to pay for pumped-up prices on what seems like everything we buy, does it make financial sense to fit into our budget a premium-priced vehicle? What’s more important, getting a car with great gas mileage or lowering emissions? In a perfect world, and better economy, we could do both. But many of us should find other ways to lower our carbon footprint and buy a car that makes financial sense first.

Bottom line: Check out Edmunds.com new Gas Guzzler Trade In Calculator. Crunch those numbers before you buy so you can keep your wallet just as ‘green’ as the rest of your life.

I agree with you on determining if a hybrid makes sense to buy. I own a 2002 Toyota Celica. It is paid off. It gets 36 mpg highway and I don't live too far from work. When I buy a new car I will probably buy a hybrid but I am not going to trade my Toyota in just yet. The last Toyota Celica I had lasted me 250000 miles/10 years. The one I currently own only has 100,000. Now if a hybrid could guarentee me more than 60 mpg? Sign me up. --Dan, PA

Posted on: 07 Jul 2008 3:04 P.M.

Don't forget about the cost for the replacement batteries for the hybrids. They have a limited life and once they are spent, you have to shell out quite a bit more money to replace them (cars.com states that the batteries should last between 8-10 years - 80,000-100,000) --Paul, OK

Posted on: 07 Jul 2008 10:32 A.M.

Very good points made by Carmen and the people who have posted comments.

If you look at a new car purchase like a "business decision", and try to take the emotion (fun of driving) out of it, you are left with total cost of ownership, safety, and reliability to consider.

There is no right or wrong choice. Personally, I would buy a diesel. If you do more driving, and not so much sitting in traffic with the engine off, a diesel will get better mileage, which, by the way, we should calculate as the Europeans do. Cost per distance driven makes more sense than mpg. --Kai, GA

Posted on: 07 Jul 2008 6:33 A.M.

My wife and I have had a great experience with our Prius. We originally got about 47 miles per gallon. But it seems there are lots of groups of people (3 at my wife's office for example) that have an informal competition to see who can get the best mileage out of their Prius. After following a few driving tips we now get 50 to 55 miles to the gallon.

I think people seriously underestimate how expensive gasoline might become in the near future. Buying a hybrid stimulates the hybrid market and protects against fuel price hikes. --Peter, NH

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 4:41 P.M.

We just bought a Mini Cooper (replacing our Tahoe) and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. At $18,000 it was half the cost of the Tahoe. It averages city/highway 42MPG. The Tahoe averaged 17MPG so we have reduced our carbon footprint by 60%. It handles like a sports car, very solidly built and has very good storage space. Becuase we use the Mimi for buisness, we will get a 60% depreciation on it for our 2008 Federal taxes. It just can't get any better than this! --Judy, AZ

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 3:51 P.M.

Thank you for the website gasbuddy.com. If you would like to learn more about some additional and very helpful energy resources, please have a look at Energybloggers.com. --David, NV

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 3:47 P.M.

We bought a new Camry Hybrid 15 months ago, got a discount off the sticker price, plus the tax credit for 2007. We get 40 to 41 MPG overall and now being retired we drive to more places. We have a great car and overall it made a lot of sense to make the switch. --Ron,AZ

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 1:45 P.M.

I feel that at this point, hybrid technology is an available option the same as heated seats, xenon headlights, and "sport" suspensions. You don't necessarily need them but many people desire them. Not everyone wants to drive around in a base model Fit or Focus or Yaris simply because they get better gas mileage. If I had a family and needed the room but still wanted to be environmentally conscious, a Camry Hybrid would be a great option. --Tom, NC

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 12:54 P.M.

Some hybrids make sense. The Nissan Altima Hybrid available out west gets 35 HWY/31 CITY. Approx $27K and has a $2500 Federal tax credit available! And it's the size of a Honda Accord! --Jeff, IN

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 12:17 P.M.

I put 20,000 miles per year on my Prius. I get 48 mpg overall city and hwy. That equates to 416 gallons of gas savings/year driving a car that average 24mpg. In 7 years that is $11,700.00 in gas savings. There was a $3,000 tax credit to purchase. Resale is very high. And the car drives as good as a Camry, my previous car. So why isn't a Prius a smart buy! --Dennis, LA

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 12:06 P.M.

Me and my wife made a conscious decision to buy a Toyota Camry Hybrid and pay a premuim of $5000. We will recover the extra cost after about 75000 miles of driving. But the primary factor was to show the support of such technologies and vision. I was keen on buying an Audi A4 but the apathy of the dealer and the Audi corporate towards fuel efficiency just put us off. Same case with Mercedes and BMW. We love our Camry and 40 MPG that it gives, so much that we are getting ready to trade our 2007 Mercedes C-Class for another new Camry or Prius. --Arun, IL

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 10:36 A.M.

Hi Carmen! Just a note on Toyota Prius; I am looking at base option 0; it has all but not the cruise control; it cost around $22500; now over a 5 years time I will be able to save at least $600 to $800/year on gas on driving same miles which I may possibly have driven with a accord or other vehicles; thus if I look at a 5 year period I am still saving money. For sure I may not have a bigger car but my basis purpose of transportation is met; if I am driving more miles in a day. --Sathya, NJ

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 9:55 A.M.


You hit it on the head, especially with diesels. Finally, someone understands that the premium cost of diesel still outweighs a similar gas engine model.

I did the math with a Prius vs. a Jetta TDI (diesel). The TDI wins hands down especially if you drive the interstate a lot.

I'm not against hybrids but financially, there are other better alternatives. One day I'm sure I'll have a hybrid but I'm waiting for prices to subside. --Tim, TX

Posted on: 03 Jul 2008 9:47 A.M.

What about the higher resale value that hybrids demand several years down the road?

Consider, for example, someone who bought a Hybrid Civic in 2002 or 2003 and kept it for 5 years. They paid an extra $1800 for the hybrid (before any tax deducts/credits, or benefits from the car-pool lanes). Five years later, it was worth MORE than the $1800 new-price differential, compared to the comparable-equipped Civic. That is, the buyers who ponied up the extra $1800 in 2002 got a positive return on the extra $1800 investment, ignoring (1) tax savings, (2) HOV-lane benefits, and (3) gas savings. Factor in those 3 additional benefits, it it was probably the best 5-year return available! --Marc, CO

Posted on: 02 Jul 2008 7:38 P.M.