Hybrids: Should You Buy One? The Pros And Cons

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2012 Lexus RX 450h

2012 Lexus RX 450h

If you want to cut down on gas and reduce your tailpipe emissions, there's never been a better selection of vehicles to choose from.

Whether you go the whole hog with an electric car or simply buy a more efficient gasoline vehicle, you're spoiled for choice.

Each fuel and vehicle variation has its own benefits and problems though, so if you're in the market for a new vehicle, we'll be looking at the pros and cons of each type. First to go under the microscope: Hybrids.


Hybrid cars are probably the most recognisable green vehicles, and much of that success can be attributed to Toyota's hugely popular Prius.

The Prius has been selling for over a decade and what started off as an odd-looking but efficient curiosity is now a four-strong range including some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.

And that, of course, is the benefit of hybrids. They may use gasoline just like most other vehicles, but with electric assistance they use less of it. This lowers the cost of driving, but also reduces pollution.

2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

Figures over 40 mpg are common from hybrids, and the best models currently get up to 50 mpg in the official EPA tests. Despite often costing a little more to buy, some hybrids will repay you with fuel bills low enough to make back that extra purchase cost in only a few years. After then, you're making net savings.

So they're efficient, but hybrids also have other benefits. For one, they're proving incredibly reliable.

All that technology under the hood might seem like a complicated nightmare, but it's not uncommon to hear stories of hybrids doing 300,000 miles or more without problems, and we've heard stories on the grapevine of hybrids still going strong at well over half a million miles. Toyota says it has fewer warranty claims on its hybrid models than it does for its non-hybrids.

Next, they're pretty relaxing to drive. Most hybrids are automatic and many use smooth, continuously-variable transmissions. Without the jerk of gearchanges, getting about the place becomes a series of fluid movements, for a rather pleasant experience. Most of the time, low revs also make them particularly quiet.

Finally, there's a hybrid for almost every budget. Whether you want a sub-$20K Honda Insight or Toyota Prius C, or a Porsche Cayenne Hybrid for over $80K, there should be an option to satisfy your needs.

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