There are many ways to determine value in a new hybrid or electric vehicle. In looking at resale value for cars in the segment, you have an idea what type of return you would get three to five years in the future should you decide to sell. Then there is the question of fuel economy.
With gas prices below $3 in summer 2015, auto consumers have to calculate whether investing in a standard hybrid is worth the money. When the price was between $4 and $5 per gallon, more hybrids made financial sense. Things have changed with the current prices at the pump, and the premium to get the hybrid variant of a particular vehicle may no longer be worth it unless you care to wait 10 years to see a return on your investment.
Here are the five hybrid vehicles that take the longest to return your money in fuel savings. For the purposes of this list, they are the 5 worst hybrid values of the 2015 model year. Data is sourced from Fueleconomy.gov.
(Note: If you have the money to spend and want to save gasoline while lowering emissions, the hybrid is the better choice for the environment and a way to show your commitment in dollars and cents.)
5. Toyota Camry Hybrid
When gas prices were higher (and the MSRP lower), the hybrid version of the Toyota Camry SE was one of the best values in the segment, and it remains in the winner’s circle for resale value. However, the steep drop in fuel costs now make the premium on a Camry Hybrid SE ($4,155) hard to bear, even with an improvement of 12 miles per gallon over the gasoline model. If fuel prices stayed at summer 2015 marks, it would take 9.3 years to return the cost of that premium for hybrids. Even if gas went to $3.50 per gallon, it would hardly move the needle.
4. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is not exactly a volume seller, so this choice may never enter your mind. However, if you were considering the Sonata Hybrid Limited over the gasoline Limited model, you will pay an extra $2,975 at the dealership for an improvement of 8 miles per gallon (about $310 in fuel savings per year). It would take 9.6 years at this rate to return the added investment you made in the Sonata’s hybrid system.
3. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota is selling about 300 Highlander hybrids per month in 2015, so this decision is not plaguing a great deal of SUV consumers. Nonetheless, those who would opt for the four-wheel-drive Hybrid model are going to pay $6,200 extra than they would for the all-wheel-drive Limited model. This leap gets you another 8 miles per gallon, which would kick back $594 in annual fuel savings. Running on that schedule, you would need 10.4 years to recoup your investment in the hybrid.
2. Subaru Crosstrek XV Hybrid
Like the Camry hybrid, the Subaru Crosstrek XV Hybrid was named one of Kelley Blue Book’s best when it comes to resale value in the segment. On the negative front, the hybrid model only offers an improvement of 2 miles per gallon over the gasoline model. Though the premium ($1,200) is not much to sweat in the bigger picture, the fuel savings return $93 per year, which would take 12.9 years to make financial sense.
1. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
If you thought the return on the Sonata Hybrid Limited took a while (nearly 10 years), wait until you see how long the standard hybrid model takes to make financial sense. Compared to the base Sonata SE, the base hybrid model offers 9 miles per gallon more at the premium of $4,850. At $340 in fuel savings per year, it would take 14.3 years to pay back the investment in the hybrid system. We suggest pricing the 2016 Sonata plug-in hybrid before committing on this one.