Facing the highest gas prices in history, consumers getting crunched at the pump are looking for solutions. Consumer Reports editors have been analyzing data, and they have a suggestion. Consider buying a hybrid vehicle like the Toyota RAV4.
But hybrids usually have a higher sticker price than their gas-powered counterparts, so how does buying one help cut costs? We have the details.
Hybrid vehicles pay for themselves over time
Consumer Reports recently analyzed hybrid and non-hybrid versions of some of the most popular vehicles on the market. The goal? To determine if the hybrids’ fuel savings could make up for their higher upfront costs in two to three years. If gas prices reached $5 per gallon (which they have in some regions), the payback period could drop as low as only one year.
For its analysis, Consumer Reports assumed a $4-per-gallon gas cost and 12,000 miles driven annually. Hybrid vehicles have both a gas engine and a battery-powered electric motor that improves fuel economy.
The CR team looked at several vehicles, including the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Both would pay for themselves in three years if gas prices fell to $3 per gallon. That’s not factoring in a few other benefits, such as the fact that hybrids have better resale values than their gas-fed versions.
In rare cases, the hybrid might actually cost less upfront than the standard counterpart. That’s the case with the Ford Maverick pickup truck, whose hybrid version has a lower sticker price than the gas-powered version.
A Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will pay for itself in 4 years, Consumer Reports says
According to CR, the payback period is the shortest for SUVs, and that’s good considering their popularity. Why? These vehicles are bigger and weigh more than cars. That being the case, they don’t get the best fuel economy. Getting up to 35 mpg instead of up to 25 mpg when you go with a hybrid means your savings will add up faster.
Take, for instance, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The popular compact SUV would pay for itself in about four years, CR reports.
The 2022 RAV4 Hybrid earned the Consumer Reports’ Recommended label and a spot on Car and Driver’s Editors’ Choice list. It offers the utility of an SUV and spirited acceleration, though it doesn’t handle as nimbly as some rivals. But it has plenty of space for people and their gear.
The RAV4 Hybrid might not boast the same agility as the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson. But the Toyota still has plenty to offer, including an impressive array of standard features.
Feel less pain at the pump with a hybrid vehicle
As The New York Times points out, gas prices were on the rise well before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. And they’ve been rising daily since.
Though EV prices also remain high, a senior energy policy analyst at Consumer Reports, Chris Harto, explains that you don’t have to drive an EV to keep your fuel consumption low. An efficient hybrid can help you navigate rising gas prices caused by fluctuations in the global oil markets.
However, CR warns that if you see a big jump in hybrid sales because of gas prices, dealers will start marking them up. One of Consumer Reports’ car buyers received a quote for a Kia Sorento Hybrid that was 10% over the sticker price when he tried to buy a test vehicle anonymously. That was after he had reached out to many local dealers that didn’t have the vehicle in stock.