Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Now’s the Time to Buy a Hybrid Car. Here’s Why…

Publication: Bottom Line Personal
Original publication date: February 15, 2013

A few years ago, picking which hybrid or electric vehicle to buy was fairly simple—there weren’t many to choose from. But the 2013 model year features more than 50 hybrid and electric options, everything from tiny hatchbacks with list prices around $19,000 to high-end luxury cars with sticker prices well above $100,000. Although many hybrids don’t provide enough fuel efficiency and/or quality to justify their somewhat steep prices—and purely electric cars like the Nissan Leaf have too limited a driving range for most drivers—if you shop carefully, you can find one that pays off big in both fuel savings and driving satisfaction.

Why now is an especially good time to shop: Hybrids have been on the road long enough that buyers can feel confident about their durability and resale value. Gas prices have eased slightly of late, temporarily lessening the demand for hybrids and increasing the odds of getting attractive deals on them. Charging stations are becoming more common for plug-in hybrid and electric cars in certain areas (especially around Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon). And there’s a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for buyers of many (but not all) new electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Some states offer their own tax incentives, too.

Among the top 2013-model-year hybrid vehicles…
Best for those who want it to be a lot like an ordinary car: Camry Hybrid. Driving this car is pretty much like driving any other well-built, midsize car. It isn’t small or stripped down to save weight and increase fuel efficiency. It doesn’t have limited range the way pure electric vehicles do. It looks like other Camrys, so it won’t brand you as someone trying to make a political statement with your car choice, the way a Prius might. It does cost more than the conventional Camry—the $26,785 sticker price is about $3,400 above the price of a similarly equipped (but nonhybrid) Camry LE.

There is slightly less space in the trunk than in the standard Camry. The Camry Hybrid gets 43 city/39 highway miles per gallon (mpg), compared with 25/35 for the nonhybrid Camry.*

Best for a tight budget: Toyota Prius c. Most hybrid and electric vehicles save drivers money at the pump only after costing them a bundle at the dealership. The Prius c is economical every step of the way. It costs a few thousand more than nonhybrid economy cars of comparable quality but still starts at a $19,875 sticker price. And the Prius c offers excellent mileage even by hybrid standards—53 city/46 highway. It’s somewhat sporty and fun to drive, too, for an economy car. Just don’t expect much in terms of size. It will feel small to car buyers not used to subcompacts.

Alternative: If you want a bit more size, opt for the standard Toyota Prius. It starts at $24,995—roughly $5,100 more than the Prius c—but provides a roomier feel without sacrificing fuel economy (51 city/48 highway).

Reposted from

Source: Karl Brauer, founder of, a Web site that combines a wide range of authoritative car reviews into a single score. He previously served as editor in chief of the leading automotive Web site

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