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Alternative Fuel Vehicle: Hybrid, Electric or Diesel?

Insight seems lacking in power - would PriusV better as a 5 dr hybrid?

How about Diesel alternative?

Purpose is buying a midsize car that can be used in town and also for interstate drive?


Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Technology is changing as time goes on.

You might want to tell us WHY you are interested in alternative fuels? Money polluting etc.

Depending on your use, any of your suggestions might be better. A diesel Mercedes would certainly be better if you did much towing and driving in the mountains while loaded down. Hybrids suffer when you add weight, drive fast and do anything require ping high torque from the electric motor which really drains the battery.

So, what are your driving habits…be a little specific please about number of passengers etc ?. As soon as you hit the midsize range, IMO, the best bang for the buck are still mid size 4cyl Fusions, Camrys and Accords that top out well over 30 mpg’s without fancy hybrid technology.

If I drove with 4 other people, I would be more incline to prefer a little more comfort of a Camry/Fusion Hybrid or regular model then a Prius C.

First, I do NOT want to pay for gas at $4! I drive an 3rd gen Integra - I take kids to school and back and in town driving in California. Each week I am putting over $30. It used to be about $15. This in town car also was used for interstate drive. But now the suspensions are weaker and I am seeking alternatives.

Thought of Insight, Lexus 200h, Accord/Camry hybrid or regular or Diesel cars.

Not sure the savings on Insight would be wiped when I had to change the battery - or I might have to sell it long before battery dies.

Diesel would be great if I can make my own bio diesel and the car will take it. I mostly know the VW Diesels. There might be some Merceds and I need to research. Being European, should I be concerned of reliability?

You would be a good candidate for a Chevy Volt. Plug it in. Use virtually zero gas driving the kids around. You’d only use gas when you take a longer trip on the interstate.

You cannot use biodiesel you make in a new diesel. Are you thinking of some old VW or Benz? The pollution they put out is staggering. Are you wanting to minimize your costs, or what? The Prius C would be a lower cost option, I’d pick that before the Insight.

You say your purpose is “buying a midsize car that can be used in town and also for interstate drive?”

It is also clear you don’t want to pay a lot for fuel.

I can’t blame you, but really you have to get past the cost of fuel, you can’t change that. You can control the amount you pay however. Reduce the number of trips, distance driven etc. I don’t think you are going to find a simple answer.

I recommend you sit down and think like a tax collector. (don’t let feelings cause you to make the wrong, for you.)

Remember what may be a great choice for you. Do some shopping. Take test drives (don’t fall in love at this point, the dealer will smell a sucker) Look at what cost of driving (not just fuel) and do the math, how much is it really costing you.

I suggest that you accept that the price you pay today is not likely to be the same next month. Maybe more maybe less.

You can’t have it all, get what is realistic for you.

You must really be on a budget,like was mentioned a mid sized 4 cyl car probaly will average out well for you in the long run,you would do well to probaly forget that Bio Diesel fantasy-Kevin

The Volt, as mentioned above, REQUIRES premium fuel.

$4 is unacceptable when paying for gas, but the higher cost of diesel fuel is ok?

The Ford Fusion hybrid is $7k more than the base 4cyl model and $3k for the Camry.
And if you’re worried about replacing the hybrid battery, don’t buy one; you’ll likely be driving it 5 years from now on pins and needles worrying yourself sick over how soon the thing will die on you.

Edmunds lists a con of the Insight that the AC shuts off at stop lights because the stop-start system that shuts the engine off at stop lights.

Fuel cost is not the only issue. Purchase cost is very important, too. Any hybrid and most diesels will cost more to buy than the same car with a gasoline engine. If you drive enough, you will eventually make up the difference, but it can take a while. If you plan to sell the car in a few years (instead of keeping it for more than 10 years), then resale is also an issue. You need to look at the entire life cycle cost to make an informed decision.

Sorry, but a hybrid is not an “alternative fuel” vehicle. It uses the same gasoline as most other cars.

I agree with those who say you should worry about the complete cost of ownership, not just fuel. If you pay more for a hybrid, but only put 12,000 miles per year on the car, the additional cost of a hybrid does not pay for itself.

My advice is to find a small fuel efficient (at least 35 MPG highway) four cylinder car. There are a lot of them to choose from.

If an additional $15/week in fuel costs hurts your budget that much, I would find another place in my budget to reduce costs, like eating out or other leisure costs.

@bscar2, yes, the Volt’s generator uses premium fuel, but when you drive so little you don’t use the generator, who cares? When the generator (while rarely operating) is giving you 37 MPG, who cares?

How many people come on here saying they bought an Acura, Lexus, Porsche, BMW, or other such vehicle and ask if it’s ok to use regular fuel in their car because that extra 20 cents a gallon(in most places anyways) really hurts their budget.
I just thought I’d throw that out there for the OP, in case they didn’t know about it. And since he’s complaining about fuel costs as it is…

Thanks bscar2;

W.r.t “How many people come on here saying they bought an Acura, Lexus”, there are several factors to it. You may have bought a used one at half price? Or it was a green car you got an incentive from your employer or IRS.

Hybrids are a better deal than some on here make them out to be, especially since you live in a state with high fuel costs. But a couple of notes. The Insight competitor in the Prius lineup is the Prius C. It has been getting poor review from both the automotive press and Consumer Reports. Those same sources also dislike the Insight. Both are smallish, slow, and have cheap-feeling interiors. The regular Prius is mid-sized and the Prius V is more of a crossover, and vast. The Lexus CT is also small, similar to the Prius C. Other good mid-sized crossover sedans are the Fusion, Camry, and Altima. None are as efficient as the original Prius or Prius C. The Volt is definitely not mid-sized. It’s surprisingly cramped, especially in back. It’s an interesting first attempt, but not a very good car. VW makes the cheapest diesels, and the current Jetta is the right size, but it’s a crummy car, despised by every car magazine and by Consumer Reports. In diesel form it isn’t even cheap, just cheap-feeling. The bigger Passat is nicer but much pricier, and is likely to be expensive to maintain and unreliable, being a VW. Right now diesels make more sense in heavy-duty pickups and luxury SUVs. Sorry.

Hybrids make the most sense if most of your driving is on city streets or stop-and-go on the freeway. However, these cars also get improved mileage at freeway speeds because they have smallish engines designed for efficiency rather than power. I’ve made trips in Priuses from LA to San Francisco several times and always managed 50 mpg at 65 mph without any hypermiling tricks. That even sometimes included AC use. Yes, I was computing mileage from gallons and miles, though I found the car’s mpg gauge was pretty close.

Whether it makes economic sense to buy one is hard to say. You have to do the math based on your driving needs. The EPA mileage ratings aren’t perfect, but are OK for comparing cars. Figure out your total city and highway miles per year and the rest of the math is easy enough.

I wouldn’t worry that much about battery life. They are more reliable than many mechanical parts of a car and they fail very gradually so won’t leave you stranded. Many are outlasting the cars they’re in. Hybrids teBowman. Only the battery is costly

I think diesel is the way to go if your doing high speed driveing hybrids our great in town

Friend has an Insight, recently checked out how speed affects the reported mpgs:
at 70 mph he got about 50 mpg
at 60 mph he got about 60 mpg
at 50 mph he got about 70 mpg

Even after adjusting these down about 5% for the optimistic readout it does pretty good on the freeway.


Whether it makes economic sense to buy one is hard to say.

No, it is not hard to say. See the link below for an article from Consumer Reports, but if you don’t trust their numbers, all you need to do is conduct your own break even analysis. Here is how you do it:
  1. Compare the price of the hybrid you are considering against the non-hybrid car you are alternatively considering. Find the difference between the two prices (value A).
  2. Compare the average fuel economy of both cars, and find the difference. This number should not be the city MPG value or the highway MPG value, but the combined MPG value since nobody drives just on the highway and most people don’t drive just in stop-and-go traffic.
  3. Calculate the fuel savings of the hybrid over the course of five years based on how many miles you drive each year and the expected cost of fuel (Value B). I would say to use $4/gallon for the expected cost, but fuel prices are on the decline. However, since the OP is in California, go ahead and use $4/gallon.
  4. If Value A is larger than Value B, a hybrid will cost you more money than it saves you. If Value B is larger than Value A, you should buy a hybrid.

Looking at a recent Consumer Reports article*, it looks like they’ve reversed their position about the feasibility of hybrids, mainly due to the fact that the cost of hybrids has come down.

Late model diesel VWs will save the most money at the pump per mile.

Many hybrid’s extra cost eliminates any dollar savings in fuel over the ownership period.

Lowest overall cost of ownership often turns out to be purchasing a newer small car that doesn’t necessarily get the best overall mileage. The saving comes from a lower purchase price and mileage differences being more effected by driving technique than the vehicle.

VW diesels are also more expensive than their gasoline models. With worse reliability and greater maintenance and repair expenses than most competitors they aren’t much of a bargain.

Darn, I now want a Prius C,thanks guys-Kevin