Gas prices! Am I right?!?! I know; we are all tired of them. We are tired of talking about them, looking at them, and most of all, paying them. Seeing as how it looks like we may be paying the prices for the foreseeable future, maybe it’s time to change up our gasoline spending habits. Consumer Reports says it’s time to make the switch to a hybrid vehicle if gas prices got you down.
Is buying a hybrid worth it?
Obviously, the better gas mileage your car gets, the less you spend on gas. However, modern hybrids typically come at a premium because of the added technology and value of saving on gasoline.
This split is what keeps many people from shelling out the extra cash to buy a hybrid. The upfront cost is high enough to deter many buyers. Now, Consumer Reports has info from a study that shows some hybrids can pay back the difference in gas cost in as little as two years. However, the average time it takes for a hybrid to pay for itself is three and a half years, according to the study.
“There’s never been a better time to buy a hybrid,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center. The hybrid market is rapidly expanding to include better versions of older hybrid models. The expanding hybrid market is folding in pickup trucks and sports cars in a way we’ve never seen before. Hell, there are hybrid Ferraris and Ford F-150s that offers more performance than traditional models.
“It’s not just the Toyota Prius anymore,” he says. “Today’s consumers can choose hybrid pickups, three-row SUVs, large cars, minivans, and luxury cars that offer excellent fuel efficiency.”
What are the best new hybrid models to buy?
Consumer Reports compared hybrid vehicles against their non-hybrid counterparts. The research found that the amount of money saved in fuel costs could offset the added cost of buying hybrid cars pretty quickly, all things considered. They found that with the current price of gas, or even if it drops back down around $3 per gallon, many of these models can remain profitable. Though, the real value comes if gas prices continue to rise. If gas prices hit $5 a gallon, then some of the better models could yield a return in as little as a year.
Consumer Reports shows how long it would take for some of the most popular hybrid models to pay for themselves.
• Honda Accord Hybrid: 3 years
• Honda CR-V Hybrid: 4 years
• Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid: 2 years
• Lexus RX450h: 6 years
• Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 2 years
• Toyota Camry Hybrid: 5 years
• Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: 4 years
“You don’t have to buy an EV to reduce your exposure to high gas prices,” says Chris Harto, a senior energy policy analyst at CR. “Buying an efficient hybrid can help buffer your monthly budget from the wild swings caused by volatility in global oil markets.”
One of the most fascinating things about this study is that SUVs will save customers more money more quickly than sedans. The math is simple. SUVs are bigger, heavier, and less fuel-efficient than sedans, as a general rule.
This means that improving the mpg of an SUV will save drivers more than improving an already more-efficient sedan’s mpg. “Going from 20 mpg to 25 mpg saves a lot more fuel than going from 30 mpg to 35 mpg,” Fisher says.
Are hybrid cars in high demand due to gas prices?
If gas prices stay high for a while, we may see a jump in demand for hybrids. This could make buying a decent hybrid nearly impossible, considering the already frustrating lack of supply in the new car market. As we’ve seen with the Ford Bronco, increased demand often leads to price hikes.
Of course, if the hybrid’s premium price tags get ever more premium, then the numbers from CR’s study will shift. Granted, gas prices can also go up, potentially keeping the ratios the same. Well, here’s to hoping that annoying scenario doesn’t play out.