Hybrid question, car buying advice

We are looking at Ford Fusion, Lexus 250h, and Camry hybrids. We live in a rural setting and have to drive up and down a mountain road with switchbacks on every trip just to get anywhere. Then the driving is mostly interstate or low traffic 2 lane roads at 40-55 mph. The Ford dealer said we don’t need a hybrid as most of our driving will not take full advantage of it’s savings. I currently drive a Mazda MPV minivan, and I get tired of using 1/3 tank to go to town and back. But I probably don’t put more than 20,000 miles on a car in a year at most.

Is it worth it to us to get a hybrid? Another consideration: My husband has an illness that makes him need a very smooth ride or it is very painful. And he is 6’2"tall and needs room.

We could go with a Fusion non-hybrid, I guess. I love the luxury and service you get with the Lexus. It would be nice to have some time in this lifetime. :slight_smile:

Any thoughts?

I think your Ford dealer is basically correct. We live out in the country and even with the daily in town driving my wife does doesn’t seem to justify paying for a Hybrid. 85% of our mileage is highway, so I suggest that you buy a conventional car.

I drove a Fusion for the first time last week, put about 400 miles on it, and it was a fairly nice riding car. I suspect it is substantially cheaper than the Lexus and possibly, the Camry.

While the Fusion Hybrid probably wouldn’t be worth the costs as far as gas savings go, it will give you an excellent range, which would reduce your irritation. Here’s a link to a long term test just started on a Fusion Hybrid…looks good:

Of the 3 hybrids you mention, it’s the one I’d get.

ps: 20,000 miles is a lot per year, so your gas savings will add up pretty quick.

jay is right; look at total overall ownership costs. Few drivers can make a hybrid pay for itslef.

A friend of my wife has a handicapped 6’2" husband. He cannot get into my Toyota, and they have a 4 cylinder Dodge Minivan which is comfortable to ride in and easy to enter and leave for him.

Basic minivans are roomy and cheap to own and operate. Get one with the smallest engine. and a good set of winter tires.

Have you taken any, or all, of the vehicles for a test drive of more than 5 miles? If not, take your husband with you while car shopping and have him sit in the passenger seat while you take a good 20 mile test drive, or, if you can, take it home for the night and do your normal traveling with it.
Other, non-hybrid options are Buick, Taurus, Sable, Town Car

I believe your sales person is correct. Certainly once you are out of the mountains the hybrid system won’t help you much on the rural highways. If the mountain part of your drive is substantial, say 6 to 10 miles of low speed switch backs. Going down the mountains you could be on electric power the whole time if you are going less than 40 mph in the Fusion hybrid. Same thing going up the mountain, if the speed is 30 to 40 mph then the gas motor won’t kick in.

If you live in a cold climate forget the hybrid. If you want heat for your down the mountain run, then the gas motor will be running just to provide heat for the cabin.

The Fusion hybrid can go to 47 mph on electric power alone. If you don’t have a lead foot you may barely engage the gas engine.

Thanks everyone! I liked the way the Fusion drove. It was smoother than the Lexus 250h, but I was on different roads. Husband is going with me tomorrow for test drives if he can manage it. I don’t want another mini-van. For my husband, it hurts when we go around curves and he compensates for his own weight distribution. Our other car is a '98 Camry and it is comfortable for hubby. We hold on to cars a long time, as you see. I think we need to go to a sedan.
The switchbacks are at about 30, but there are areas of 55. About 8 miles down (Lookout Mountain), often then up about 6 miles to another mountain (Sand Mountain). It is cold here about 2-3 months of the year.
And I don’t think we’ll go basic. Hubby wants me to have back-up camera and front camera and safety features that come with upscale cars. I’m old enough so that’s not a bad idea.
You folks are awesome. I welcome any more ideas! Thanks.

All hybrids are not the same. Give this a try: go to www.fueleconomy.gov and click on “advanced search” to the left. Pick whatever years you’re looking at and under Vehicle/Fuel Type click the “hybrid” box. You’ll get a big long list of every hybrid and their city and highway MPG numbers. You’ll notice that some (most?) including the Prius get better “city” than “highway” mileage. You will not benefit from one of these if you mostly do highway driving. But there’s others, including the Honda hybrids, which use a “booster” style hybrid system which does give some benefit for highway driving (although since these also work by recovering energy lost in deceleration, if you’re driving at a steady speed you’re still not going to get any benefit).

I generally agree with what the others have said though that you’re probably better off with a conventional car. Another car you might look at is the TDI VW Golf which is not quite up to the reliability standards of the Toyota products (or the Ford for that matter), but some people really like the look and feel of VW’s and the diesels get stellar highway mileage. The reliability issues really aren’t as bad as some would make them out to be and they are really quite fun to drive-- perhaps consider that as a different (and cheaper) form of high-mileage “luxury” from the Lexus.

Thanks again. Would you all still lean toward the Ford or such if you knew I had enough resources to afford the Lexus without a problem? I have actually thought of a VW–we have a plant being built nearby.
When I went to the advanced search, and put in mpg and luxury, Lexus was the only hybrid listed. When I was driving it on the interstate, the light that showed it was being green came on for a while a few times, so it can happen on the interstate with the right kind of array. I am still torn between being frugal and treating myself once to a luxury car while I can still drive! :wink: I’m going to explore more on the Advanced Search.

I understand you comments with your driving experience and how a Fusion would be appealing. But, if you’re looking over economy long term, it’s difficult for a Ford product to compare with the track record of a 4cyl Camry, whose mileage is superior to most cars in it’s class and an excellent ride comfort. I see little advantage in buying hybrids in the intermediates over 4 cyl options, especially with a Camry and wonder why that was not a consideration.

Take extended test drives in both, pay particular attention to the amount of room in the Lexus compared to the Fusion, there’s no way anyone but you and your husband can judge which is more comfortable. Don’t pay much attention to the ‘Lexus experience’, you’ll spend next to no time at the dealer once you buy the car. I’m seriously considering a Fusion hybrid to replace my Lexus ES300, but you need to decide on which is best for you, not which has the best image. The Lexus hybrid is no different once you get below the skin, really. You can get a very nicely-optioned Fusion.

I agree with you. Comfort will be the key. But resale value is also a consideration. An unknown for the new
Lexus small car. We’ll be driving tomorrow.
Thanks to all.

How long do you plan on keeping the car that resale value comes into play?
If you think you’ve found “the one”, then why not keep it until it costs more to replaces parts than new car payments every month/year.

Well, my husband made a special effort–extraordinary effort–to test drive cars. He liked the Fusion, but we were amazed at how much the cameras on the Lexus helped him NOT experience pain when turning his neck, shoulders, arms when backing up and even pulling out. This feature alone is worth a LOT to him. Almost incalculable in OUR specific case, for his needs. We usually keep our cars a long time. 8-12 years. The minivan that is giving us trouble is, indeed, costing more than most car payments now, and is 8+ years old. I will take the back seats out, lay down plastic and use it as a truck full time and hope that local driving is less likely to cause me to be stranded. It has been well-maintained, so it might keep going a while. The Lexus 250h was so comfortable for my husband, we went for it. All of your suggestions were much appreciated, and were factored in to our thoughts. Many thanks.

When people wonder why they offer models with these seemingly opulent and unnecessary features, yours is a revealing story. I congratulate on your choice and commend you for your efforts on behalf of your husband’s needs.
Thank you !