Dedicated hybrids vs. 'other' hybrids...what's the difference?



Within the next few years I’ll be in the market to purchase a new car. I am leaning towards getting a hybrid, simply due to fuel economy, but I feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of hybrids there are out there. You have your normal, dedicated hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, but then there’s what I call the ‘other’ hybrids, or hybrids whose initial car isn’t actually a hybrid. Toyota Camery, Kia Soul, Ford Escape, Honda Civic, and more all have hybrid versions of their vehicles.

So the general question I have is are these ‘other’ hybrids any better than actual hybrids? I’ve heard the terms ‘mild hybrid’ and ‘full hybrid’ being thrown around a lot.


The simple answer is No. But early hybrid car buyers want to show everyone just how “green” they are buy buying a recognizable hybrid like the Prius. I call the car a “Pious” for that exact reason.

The car makers that made hybrid versions of their mainstream cars had weak sales because they buyers couldn’t show off their “green” credentials. Honda built hybrid Civics and Accords - good cars - but they didn’t sell. They introduced a new Insight that looks suspiciously like a Prius. And it is selling because it can be identified as a hybrid, to “non-technical” eyes. The “why” is my opinion, the results are fact. Sounds like your sources are are firmly in the “Pious” camp.

I can explain the “mild hybrid” part as well as the “full hybrid” and Plug-in Electric hybrids as well but it isn’t necessary to understand the technical details of the car to choose one.

My advice is to buy based on the MPG specs posted on the window sticker of all new cars. Buy based on how the car feels and looks to you. If the car needs to be plugged in at night, consider if you have a place to DO that with your car. No sense buying a plug-in hybrid if you can’t plug it in! If you want a hybrid, buy the hybrid that fits your needs best, rather than the un-seen engineering details under the skin.


Also just because a Hybrid sounds good is it really what you need. I took an online quiz one time and it showed that a hybrid was not really going to do me that much good.


I paid more attention to the hybrid drivetrain than the shape of the car around it. If your goal is to get the absolute maximum mpgs (but not go the plug-in route), then something like the Prius is a good option. I wanted a comfortable, roomy car, so I got a Lincoln MKZ hybrid (same mechanicals as the Fusion hybrid, same system as used by Toyota). A Camry hybrid or an Avalon hybrid would also be good options for me.

If I had to pick one company’s system, I’d go with Toyota.


each yr more hybrids show up. thanks to the govt fuel mandates. a turbo 4 in a mustang/camaro? uses less fuel at stoplights. does a 4cyl use the same fuel at idle vs a cyl deactivate v8? with auto-stop? i think the cyl-de only works at cruise speeds though


That had very little to do with why they didn’t sell at first.
First - The base Civics got pretty decent gas mileage without the hybrid, and for many the cost justification wasn’t there.
Second - The first Accord Hybrids were designed for performance. Gas mileage was better, but Honda wasn’t promoting that.
Third - In 2007 we looked at the Camry Hybrid for my wife. Wife had a perfect commute and she drove enough to justify the cost. The MAIN reason we didn’t buy it was the battery back. It literally took up more then half the trunk space. With different battery systems today - it’s no longer an issue.

The other issue was cost. Earlier hybrids only came fully loaded and the cost was easily $10k more then the base model. In 2014 when I bought my Highlander the Hybrid was available, but it was the Limited trim level only and easily cost $15k more then the one I bought. That pricing model has changed drastically. You can buy a Hybrid at most of the trim levels with a cost difference of $1k-$3k.

Unless things change drastically a hybrid will be in our future.