Hybrid vs. normal


Is there an equation to calculate if you are a good match for the hybrid? I like the idea, but that is $10,000 to $15,000 of idea. That may not be practical, especially considering it is fairly new technology.


Forget the one about new technology. The car will be alright but the small four cylinder cars will get great mileage anyway. Especially if you drive on the highway regularly. I’ll bet that the lighter car stops better too. I was wrong. The Yaris stops only four feet shorter than the Prius from sixty MPH.

No, I don't think so.  In general I can't see hybrids of today paying off in dollars.  While they do tend to get better mileage than the equivalent non-hybrid, the real life difference is not enough to repay the original cost without a very large tax benefit.  

Also note that the mileage testing procedures for current models tend to over estimate the mileage more than it does for non-hybrids. I understand that will change with the new models.

That said it does appear that they have done a great job of basic engineering and that even with the new technology they are holding up about as well as conventional cars. 

Frankly I drive a small diesel and get better mileage than the EPA estimates for the hybrids.


There is no one-size-fits-all calculation to determine whether or not a hybrid is for you, and since all hybrids are NOT the same it gets really complicated. If you are considering a hybrid, you will have to do careful research to determine which vehicle best suits your needs, then decide whether or not it makes sense financially.

Many people buy hybrids and then are very disappointed because they do not get the mileage they thought they would get. As you say, the up-front price premium is steep, and the pay back period can be very long. In many cases, the vehicle never pays back the initial premium.

I’m sticking with conventional 4-cylinder, manual transmission cars, which can deliver fuel mileage very close to hybrids in real-world driving.


The real benefit of a hybrid is if you travel mainly in town/city vs highway as their mileage is much higher in town where electric portion is working vs highway where gasoline engine is working. Its really driver dependent.


consumer reports did an analysis about a year or so ago.

they concluded both the prius and the civic hybrids saved enough to repay the premium in THREE YEARS. all savings thereafter was pure profit.

this was when gas was cheaper than today. so the payback date will come EVEN SOONER now.


Hybrids are only useful if you use your brakes a lot. Most city drivers do a lot of stoplight racing. Me, I wear out tires fast, but my brakes last forever so I would not consider one.


I believe that the calculations were based on 15,000 miles a year. That is 3 years of driving for me so it would be 9 years, I guess.


We get much better mileage on Freeways than in town with our Prius. We get 40-45 MPG in combined highway/city driving and about 50 for highway trips.
Knowing that we are polluting less was a big incentive for us to buy the Prius. We have driven about 24,000 without any need of repairs.


Payback smaback, it’s the principle of it! Hybrids take money out of the Big Oil Co.s pocket and encourage auto makers to research and develop new technology. Run the numbers if you want, 3-5 years OK. I am willing to find a hybrid for my next car to make a statement, enough with irrational gasoline prices!


I went through this about 2 years ago and created an Excel worksheet. I was driving 184 miles/day x 5 days (44K/yr)and wanted to buy hybrid. When I calculated gas milage for highway for hybrid (Prius)vs regular (Sentra), the initial price difference of 9K was significant. In addition, the highway milage (actual per readers’ review) for Hybrid was more around 40 vs. 34 for Sentra highway. In addition, having to replace car every 3 years (120K), there was no contest. I bought Sentra (5 spd) and still get 36 MPG on highway. Gas was also 2.35/gal at that time than 3+ now. Hence, I ended up with Sentra. You can easily calculate the numbers with a calculator. In my case, if hybride was equivalent or 2-3K more in operation, I would have bought it (but not for 9K- as my Sentra was 11.5K new).


You did not compare apples to apples. Prius should be compared to an equal sized car such as the Camry, Altima etc in which case the cost is much closer. A sentra is equivalent to the apple core not the whole apple! Perhaps the Civic hybrid would have been more of a comparison


Payback smaback, it’s the principle of it! Hybrids take money out of the Big Oil Co.s pocket and encourage auto makers to research and develop new technology. Run the numbers if you want, 3-5 years OK. I am willing to find a hybrid for my next car to make a statement, enough with irrational gasoline prices!

I’m glad to hear someone admit their real motivation for buying one of these things. If you are willing to spend $25K to “make a statement,” go for it.


I’ve owned a Prius since December and there’s no way you can compare it to an Altima or Camry (maybe the Touring Edition Prius starting at $27K). However, I wouldn’t compare it to a Sentra, either. Having driven it for over 6 months now, I’d have to say it’s somewhere in between, which would put a comparison price tag of around $19K. If you use that figure, you’d have to re-coup about $3K over the life of the car. My car cost $24K with a tax credit of $1900. My combined city and highway driving gets me 49 mpg. Also, the Toyota hybrid technology is far from “new”. The Prius has been around for 10 years now and has been sold in the US since 2000.


Prius is apples to apples with the Camry? Are you nuts? The Prius is a compact. I admit it was roomy for a small car, but it is nowhere near the size of a Camry, a small mid-size. By size, weight, and interior & cargo space, the Prius matches nicely with the Sentra. I’m 6-ft and 285#. Believe me when I tell you the ‘butt-test’ puts the Camry in a larger vehicle class, as recalled from the recent car show here in Atlanta.

And, I just researched it on the parent website of Cars.com. The Camry matches nicely with the Altima and Maxima models. But is clearly bigger and roomier than the Prius and Sentra.


The Prius may match up well with the Sentra as far as weight, size, etc… However, I still feel the overall options, handling and ride are superior to the Sentra. It certainly isn’t a Camry. But again, to get back to the original question, I don’t believe you can compare the Prius to a low end sub compact like the Sentra as far as price. If you feel it’s no more than a glorified Corolla or Sentra, then the numbers probably wouldn’t work out at today’s gas prices.


The statement is that you actually care about the environment. Can you really put a price tag on the value of that? I think the $25k spent is well worth it on MANY different levels. If you HAVE to have a car payment why not be as environmentally friendly as possible?


One could argue that, while it may not be able to BUY happiness, one can use their money to rent(/finance/lease :p) it. While some may get joy in a car that gets 100 MPG, some of us enjoy loud, gas hogging vehicles. The best mileage I got out of my chevelle(2bbl 283 with 2 speed automatic) was 15 MPG, I average 13.


To each his own, but I’m not convinced that current hybrids are anything more than econo-boxes plus hype (plus tax credits, plus access to HOV lanes). I’m also not convinced that anyone NEEDS a car payment, if you cannot afford to write a check for your car, you are not in a financial position to be “making a statement” with your car, sorry. If you are broke and you care about the environment, buy the most fuel efficient $5000 car you can find.

Save your money and see if you still think your “statement” is worth $25K when you have to write a check for the full amount, just something to think about.


I’m trying to decide right now on a new car. Fuel efficiency is our high priority, as one of us commutes 120 highway miles 3x/wk. But to get to the highway – and for other family activities – we have to drive on many dirt roads. Will a Prius or Civic hold up? Can they handle mud season? Will they withstand the bumps?
I’m also worried that they’re too small for a family of four for trips. We have young kids, lots of activities, and a farm…
If not a Prius or Civic, which conventional vehicle would you recommend for the best efficiency?