Hybrid vrs diesel

Hybrid vs. diesel

In purchasing a new car I have always thought a hybrid car would be a great choice since I want to reduce my dependence on oil and get great gas mileage. With the limited reading I have done, there are lots of concerns about cost of battery replacement, the extra cost of hybrid,the payback on that investment, and how the type of driving that I do (less than 10 minutes one way to get to work) factors in on whether or not a hybrid is a good choice.

My son suggested that a diesel might be better than a hybrid ? great gas mileage and diesel fuel was better for other reasons ? none of which I can remember. Could someone help me as to why diesel would be better than unleaded gas?

However, my question concerns the choice of a diesel car. When I googled diesel cars through USAA only three choices came up ? hence the problem. The highly recommended diesel was a VW. Prior to buying my 17 year old camry we owned a series of VW?s. Unfortunately, they were high maintenance cars ? the repair costs were always excessive and frequent. I called them the foreign version of a ford (fix or repair daily).

Now comes my question. I am fearful that I will end up with another ford ? fix or repair daily ? and end up spending big bucks in repairs which would negate the gas economy. What can you tell me about the diesel vrs gas ? environment wise and fuel efficiency wise? Then, what can you tell me about VW diesel vrs other manufacturers of diesel? What would you recommend?

I can also share that my 17 year old camry - the perfect do-it-yourself car - gets about 24 miles to the gallon. The VW diesel gets 34. It sounds good - but not great to my thinking, but what do I know from great gas mileage?

My son suggested that a diesel might be better than a hybrid ? great gas mileage and diesel fuel was better for other reasons

There are variations within each type of car. While I own a diesel and would buy another (this is my second diesel) there are advantages with electric as well. I don’t have the slightest idea of what your son might be suggesting.

Diesels tend to take longer to warm up. For those short 10 mile trips, the hybrid might have an advantage. Ask you sun about that other advantage.

I have owned three VW’s A 1970 Beetle, 1976 Rabbit diesel, and my 2002 New Beetle diesel. I have had very few problems with any of those (likewise with my gasoline cars). Maintenance has never been excessive or a problem with any of my cars and repairs have been almost nonexistent.

I would suggest driving style and proper maintenance would be the reason.

Since I have done most of my own maintenance, that cost has been low.

You can do the same. Remember doing your own maintenance reduces cost, having it done by a good local independen mechanic likely will go a long way towards reducing cost. Any one who things they can ignore or put off maintenance is going to end up with more expensive repairs on any car.

BTW I get low 40's mpg in the city and low 50's on the road.  Driving style makes a big difference.

A ten minute commute is not the best thing for a diesel. The engine will never get warm. The benefit of a diesel would be in highway driving, where it would deliver excellent mileage.

The VW will cost more to maintain over time, as you discovered with previous VW vehicles. This has not changed. There are no other diesel-powered cars that I’m aware of, at least in the US market, that would be less expensive to maintain.

Who else sells diesels? Mercedes Benz. Not cheap to keep.

A hybrid would be a better choice for your short commute, although the benefit over a conventional small car would be minimal at best. Probably not worth the initial cost difference.

I’d be thinking Corolla, Civic, or something similar. Maybe even smaller if commuting is the only thing you use the car for.

For a ten minute trip neither a diesel nor a hybrid will save you any money.

“'d be thinking Corolla, Civic, or something similar. Maybe even smaller if commuting is the only thing you use the car for.”

I agree; nether is worthwhile considering nor cost effective. Save your money and do what “mc” suggests. If you’re “fearful” of either, don’t take the plunge.

If your 10 min. to work includes some stop signs and stop lights the hybrid is better. A diesel car is good for folks who spend most of the time on major highways. Basically hybrid is better for urban, suburban driving with lower speeds and frequent stop and go. Diesel is better when you get on the interstate and drive lots of miles with minimum stops and go.

A VW diesel is pretty reliable when new, but does cost more to maintain than a similar gas motor VW. The higher cost of diesel fuel negates some of you mpg savings. Compared to your current Camry it would definately cost more to maintain and repair than you are used to with the Camry. Some of the fuel savings with the diesel over the Camry is eroded by the higher cost per gallon of diesel vs regular fuel. VW’s definately require more repairs more frequently than a Camry.

For your driving you might just be best with a new Camry. They still get very good mpg for a good sized car. I think a hybrid might work for you too, but the extra costs of buying a hybrid isn’t going to be realized in cost savings for fuel for 5 to 10 years. You don’t drive enough miles. The hybrid will get about 15 more mpg than the Camry, but the extra money spent on fuel will only be about $350 a year if you drive the Camry (based on 7,000 miles per year).

So, a Prius hybrid over a new Camry. Camry is bigger, more comfortable, dependable, with a low cost of maintenance. The Prius is much smaller, not as comfortable, dependable, good repair record, and might need new battery pack if you keep it 17 years (as you did the current Camry).

For your commute you might consider an all electric car, like the Nissan Leaf. It will get you to work and back with errands on the way no problem. Burns no gas at all, and should therefore be very low cost to maintain since there is no gas motor. No oil changes, no tune ups, no fuel injectors, plugs, coils, non of the stuff that gas engines need. Then keep the current Camry or get a new one for longer trips.

A 10 minute commute isn’t going to make much of a difference in how much you spend on fuel every year…It’ll take you YEARS to pay back the difference a hybrid or diesel costs over the price of a comparably equipped car that runs on gas.

Based on your usage, I don’t think hybrid or a diesel would be the best choice.

You seem concerned with fuel economy, but you don’t use much fuel as it is. The extra money you pay for a hybrid or a diesel for increased fuel economy over a normal gas burning economy car wouldn’t be a financially sound decision.

VW reliability has been on the upswing in recent years, at least for the gas powered models. But repair costs will be higher than average. If you’re just driving around town doing short trips then a hybrid would be ideal. However as others have mentioned you’d probably never recoup the price premium vs. a conventional gas-only vehicle

I can also gather you’re not mr./mrs.current affairs when it comes to reliability ratings. Ford is widely considered to be the most reliable domestic make with many models offering equal reliability to those of Honda and Toyota.

A new car getting 34 mpg is not going to save any money and will actually have a much higher total per-mile cost. Depreciation, taxes and insurance will cost much more than any fuel savings. If you are considering a diesel or hybrid to “save the planet” (a different mis-guided discussion) OK. Don’t think that buying a new hybrid or diesel will save you any money.

Find a decent 3 - 4 year-old car (Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, etc.) and enjoy the money you saved.


Your choices in a sedan are the VW Jetta (30 city/42 hwy), BMW 335d (23/36), and the Mercedes Benz E350 Bluetec (22/33). I left the Golf and SUVs out, guessing that you want a sedan to replace your Camry. If the Camry has a 4-cyl with automatic, your EPA mileage is 18/26. Use that mileage to compare to the diesels. Since you are on the high side of the range, figure that the Jetta would get 38 MPG in comparable driving (75% of the range between city and highway mileage). Is 38 MPG on average great?

VWs are much better than they used to be. And it has free maintenace for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles. And the BMW has free maintenance for the first 4 years or 50,000 miles. That’s basically filters and oil, but it adds up.

I agree; neither a diesel nor a hybrid is a good choice.

Wait a few weeks and take a look at Chevrolet Cruze. The first ad that I saw yesterday said 35 mpg highway. The purchase price difference may also help with overall cost of running a car as typically GM compacts sell for less than Toyota or Honda.

If you keep a car for a long time and your post indicates that you might do that, it seems likely that if you buy a hybrid, a new battery is in your future.

VW diesels have high maintenance costs even if they don’t break. For example, new fuel filters every 20k for $25 to $30 for the filter alone is a negative. Special engine oil at around $10 per quart; 5 quarts every 10,000 miles is another negative. How about four new fuel injectors for $699? Dealer price for a new injection pump is $3500. You may not need new injectors or a new injection pump but if you do, it may be difficult to want to repair your 250,000 mile car at those prices.

Just go for a conventional compact or a mid size car. I like my Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, rated at 37 highway and I can drive easy to get 40 plus mpg on a trip or go fast and get 35 mpg.

A short range electric-only car would be a better choice for a 10 minute commute than a diesel or hybrid.
A range of 50 miles or so would not be a great technical challenge.
There would be no issues about warming up or not getting warmed up.

If you can live with lower speed and two wheels there’s something like this:


A diesel would not be apprpriate. While they’re warming up, diesels also run rich, as must all internal combustion engines. Your fuel efficiency will be relatively poor running a diesel for mostly short 10-minute drives. Diesels are not efficient until they’re well heated up.