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Family sized EV or hybrid

I’m looking for suggestions on a new vehicle that is either electric or hybrid.

I need a family car: big and safe enough to carry around the toddler and the big dog (in the back).

My dream would be a hybrid or electric station wagon. But nobody seems to make one. I’ll consent to a small SUV if the mileage is good enough, but I personally think a hybrid SUV that gets 20 mpg instead of 11 is a bad joke. I’m not buying something that gets under 30. (I know VW makes “clean diesel” high mileage vehicles and perhaps a wagon of that type, but I’m not interested.)



No EVs now, or in the near future, fit your needs. Highlander hybrid (27/25 city hwy) is closest match for you, it seems, but your 30 mpg requirement may be difficult to meet.

Another option - the Ford Escape hybrid (34/31 city hwy) does meet your 30 mpg hurdle.

Test drive them both, see what you think.

I’m not buying something that gets under 30. (I know VW makes “clean diesel” high mileage vehicles and perhaps a wagon of that type, but I’m not interested.)

I’m curious why you are “not interested” in a vehicle that seems to meet your criteria?

Anyway, Ford has the Escape Hybrid which they claim gets 34MPG city mileage. Here is a link:

Thanks for that. God, I hate SUVs but I may be forced to do that.

I’m not sure I buy the idea of “clean diesel”. I’d have to research more, but I’m suspicious. (I looked, the volkswagen wagon TDI gets 42 highway. Interesting but not mind-blowing).

One additional reason I’m interested in a hybrid over a clean diesel, is that I’m very interested in the eventual possibility of the aftermarket options to convert hybrids into plug-ins, or to at least dramatically increase the mileage. I know these are around for Prius. Any idea of: (a) whether these are quality products and (b) whether they are available for Escape or Highlander?

If not, are these things on the horizon? Maybe I could lease for a year or two if what I really want is not too far off.

Thanks again,

I would strongly advise against modifying a hybrid. The costs are immense, the benefits in tests to date are small, so you’ll be hurting (both your wallet and the environment) more than helping. Eliminate that from your list. If you want a plug-in hybrid, wait for one. They’ll be (slowly) coming. Problem is, batteries are very expensive. The Chevy Volt (sedan) will be over $30k, I think.

I believe we are several years, 5 to 10, away from a vehicle that fits the market you are interested in buying. A hybrid Toyota Venza, and other crossovers and wagons fitted with hybrid power are what you are going to have to wait for. Perhaps these will even be “plug in” versions when they come.

For now you are going to have to live with a fuel efficient wagon, crossover, or the Escape hybrid.

Due to weight considerations the cost advantage to the miniscule mpg advantages of hybrids over well designed ICE power cars isn’t worth it. A v6 powered RAV4 gets 26 to 30 mpg highway and 23 plus overall with 260 hp for thousands less than a Hylander hybrid. Tough to justify…you’re in the critical decision zone of 3 extra mpg for $10K more. Hybrids aren’t ready for cost effective prime time in your size range, and it’s a good wait till one is.

BIG and SAFE and over 30 mpg do not go together unless you want to spend a fortune on an expensive hybrid.

If I were you I would sit down and analyze:

  1. How many miles per year do I drive.

  2. A toddler will grow up, will this be your only child

  3. Does your wife taxi kids around

  4. How often does the dog ride in the car

  5. What is my budget

From what you have told us for the lowest overall operating cost with room for a large dog, a 4 cylinder minivan is your best choice. If you drive 40,000-50,000 miles per year or so you should consider a hybrid.

A Jetta TDI diesel is a nice car, but it is not all that roomy inside. And you have to drive a lot of miles to justify the extra cost of the diesel and its maintenance.

Sorry, my original post was not phrased correctly. It should have read “big enough and safe enough”. I don’t want BIG. I want just big enough. Again, the size that I really would like is the size of a Forester or Outback wagon.

I know you weren’t asking for me to give you the answers to the factors you identified, but let me lay them out just in case this sparks any thoughts.

  1. About 10-12,000. Almost all city with one or two longer highway trips per month.
  2. Not sure, but certainly no more than 2.
  3. Actually, I do. To school and back every day.
  4. Not often. Once or twice a month tops. Concern is ability to bring her along on 3-5 hour trips.
  5. Put it this way, I can’t go higher than the Escape, which is about 30K.

Thanks for any thoughts you may have.

how about the aftermarket to turn a diesel into bio-diesel? >> then many hybrids by re-using bio oil.

Apparently, the Prius is available from the factory as a plug-in hybrid in Japan and I thought they were going to bring that here, but in any case that makes converting them easier. I don’t know, or care really, if the Fords can be converted to plug-in easily or not. In theory, any hybrid should be able to be converted to plug-in, it’s just battery charging, but how much trouble and will anyone think it’s worth doing? I did see on their web site that it can run up to 44 MPH without using the gasoline engine, so that’s pretty good for around town usage.

I won’t try to convince you about diesel. I personally believe it makes more sense than hybrids, but you have to make your own call on that. They certainly are much cleaner than before with the new ultra-low sulfur fuel now mandated in the US.

For 30K there is lots of choice. The VW TDI wagon would fit the bill, if you are prepared to learn the care and feeding of diesels (and NEVER put gasoline in the tank), which is a little different than gasoline cars.

Again, a minivan with the smallest 4 cylinder engine would get nearly 30 mpg and have tons of room inside, for possible future need.

If gas mileage is important, I would avoid anything with All Wheel Drive or 4 Wheel Drive. The Escape is available as a 2 WD model for much under $30,000.

SUVs are not very space-efficient, and usually cost more than corresponding cars or minivans.

Not knowing what your “other car” is if any. The times when taking the full crew may determine the car you buy. A Corolla/Focus/Civic matches well with a van when both together may be less than a midsize hybrid with better overall mileage when both are used discriminately. If you are already a two car family, with the other one a high gas mileage car, takes the pressure off having to think hybrid for next purchase.

Click on the link to find out what fuel mileage to expect for any car sold in the USA.

You can get mileage for diesels, hybrids, and other vehicles. See what the difference is between a Highlander hybrid and non-hybrid; Escape, too.

Thanks everyone. The concern is to get the best mix of interior room and fuel economy, up to 30K.

So in the running now are the VW TDI Sportwagen, the Escape hybrid, the Fusion hybrid, and the Altima hybrid. I suppose I just need to go check Consumer Reports and test drive now.

I have an Echo now. Runs well enough but it is 10 years old, too small for my needs, not safe enough, and the gas mileage is starting to slip a little (though I’m still above 30 normally).

You won’t go wrong with any of those. Do check on the availability of the Altima hybrid, it’s not in all markets.

Also see if the Fusion trunk is big enough. Like the Camry hybrid, the batteries take up lots of room, also preventing the rear seat back from folding.

You are on the right track. Agree that your Echo is too cramped for your needs. An additional car worth looking at is the Toyota Matrix, a tall, van-like version of the Corolla. With the small engine it has good fuel economy, room for the dog, and is very reliable.

My retired brother, who lives on a farm, has one and it’s great to carry bulky things when necessary. The reliability has been outstanding.

I’m going to go against your request and recommend something like a Scion xB. It is so inexpensive compared to a hybrid, the money you save more than makes up for the small savings in gas. They are plenty big for your needs and the $12K you save will more than pay for the 6mpg loss over the life of the car…not including the advantaged reliability over untested newer hybrids.
In my very humble opinion, practicality of dog and toddler would take a “back seat” to my 30 mpg goal. You have $12K now for diaper service.

Just a thought cause the better ones have all been taken.

I suggest you buy a Consumer Reports New Car Preview at the local bookstore, browse the options, and test drive the ones that look interesting to you. What’s perfect to one of us may be totally wrong for you.

With the low mileage you drive, a hybrid is not a good investemnt unless you put the environment ahead of your family budget!