3 Hybrids That Will Pay for Themselves Within 3 Years, Consumer Reports Says

Skyrocketing gas prices are on most of our minds these days. American consumers looking for relief are wisely considering hybrid vehicles. Though hybrid vehicles cost more to purchase, analysis shows they save money over time thanks to their excellent fuel economy. Even if gas prices drop, many hybrids can pay for themselves in only a couple of years.

According to Consumer Reports, three such vehicles will pay for themselves within three years. Here’s more about them and what they offer.

Consumer Reports’ analysis of hybrid vehicles

Hybrid cars: 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
2022 hybrids (clockwise from top): Honda Accord, Toyota Highlander, and Hyundai Santa Fe | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Hyundai Motor America; Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Consumer Reports looked at several popular vehicles and compared their hybrid and gas-combustion versions. The research reveals that the hybrids’ fuel savings compensated for their higher sticker price in two to three years. CR projected if gas prices reached $5 per gallon, the payback period could be as short as one year. 

Hybrid powertrains use an internal combustion engine and electric motors powered by batteries. Because of regenerative braking, these vehicles don’t need to be plugged in like PHEVs and EVs. Vehicles with hybrid systems yield amazing savings at the pump and often have better resale values than standard vehicles.

The CR analysis assumes $4 per gallon of gas and 12,000 miles driven annually.

According to CR, if gas prices dropped to $3 a gallon, the payback period would extend to three years for the hybrid versions of the Honda Accord, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Toyota Highlander.

2022 Honda Accord Hybrid

The new 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid comes equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine plus two electric motors. It gets an impressive 47 mpg overall and great acceleration. According to the CR team, the sedan can move on just electric power at lower speeds. This model doesn’t lose cargo space either.

In addition, it offers nimble handling and user-friendly physical knobs for tuning and volume control. A comfortable ride is the icing on the cake. 

Among its standard advanced safety features is automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Forward collision warning with blind-spot warning is available as an option.

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

Smaller than the three-row Palisade and larger than the Tucson compact crossover, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is a two-row midsize crossover. It packs a 226-hp 1.6-liter turbo engine and got an overall 30 mpg in CR testing. Reviewers say it offers a more comfortable ride than non-hybrid models.

Plus, there’s plenty of passenger and cargo space. The interior looks good, but a ton of buttons dot the center console. CR’s testers found the push-button gear selector tricky to use without stopping to look at it. 

Standard driver assists include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning. 

Overall, Consumer Reports calls the hybrid model the best Santa Fe, which also comes in standard and PHEV versions.

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Now in its fourth generation, the 2022 Toyota Highlander loses a little power as a hybrid but gets an excellent 35 mpg combined. CR testers say its handling is solid and confident, and this model can run on electric power alone at low speeds up to 20 mph. 

This Highlander seats seven or eight depending upon the configuration. Though it provides plenty of room in the second row, third-row seating is tight. However, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration are standard, and the controls are intuitive. 

Plus, you get the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite of safety features. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning.

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