We enjoy getting to the bottom of the stories making news, like where Tesla is allowed to sell cars or when you’ll be able to buy a driverless car. That’s why we decided to find out if buying a hybrid car is really worth it.
Hybrid trims can sometimes cost 20% more than their non-hybrid, internal combustion engined counterparts. But that hefty price tag gets the driver big savings at the pump, right? Let’s find out.
We evaluated car models that have both hybrid and non-hybrid trims. We built them with the same packages and then compared the difference in price. We then took the difference in MPG and figured how far you can drive until the savings in gas cancels out the difference in MSRP. We used an average fuel price of $3.50 a gallon to conduct the study.
Models used in the study:
- Honda Civic vs. Honda Civic Hybrid
- Honda Accord vs. Honda Accord Hybrid
- Toyota Camry LE vs. Toyota Camry LE Hybrid
- Toyota Highlander Limited vs. Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid
- Toyota Avalon XLE Premium vs. Toyota Avalon XLE Premium Hybrid
- Nissan Pathfinder SL vs. Nissan Pathfinder SL Hybrid
- Ford Fusion S vs. Ford Fusion S Hybrid
- BMW 335i vs. BMW Active 3 Hybrid
- Volkswagen Jetta SEL vs. Jetta SEL Hybrid
- Lincoln MKZ vs. Lincoln MKZ hybrid
- Kia Optima LX vs. Kia Optima LX hybrid
- Hyundai Sonata Limited vs. Hyundai Sonata Limited Hybrid
Some hybrids offer only small MPG advantages over their gasoline counterparts meaning you have to plan on driving them for a really, really long time. As you can see in our infographic, you will have to drive the Toyota Highlander hybrid over 220,000 miles before the initial cost to own is cancelled out by savings at the pump. Thus, unless you plan on driving around the globe upwards of eight and a half times, the hybrid won’t relieve the burden on your wallet.
Many of the other “super fuel saver” cars such as the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid or Honda Civic Hybrid would have to be driven more then 150,000 miles to be worth the initial cost. Most people who buy hybrids feel as though they are getting a deal the minute they pull off the lot. Think again.
Another component to our analysis is it is based on the best-case scenario. We assumed that the battery could still maintain 100% of its charge regardless of mileage. We also assumed that there would be no replacement of the batteries, even though these numbers put the cars well over their 100,000-mile warranties.
While the majority of the vehicles we studied don’t necessarily seem worth it, there are some standouts, namely the Lincoln MKZ. The Lincoln MKZ is the only model priced the same as its non-hybrid brother, meaning that you’ll see a difference at the very first fill up.
A different standout is the BMW Active 3. Our study found it needs to be driven almost 2 million miles before it out weighed its initial purchase cost. It only averages 1 MPG better, yet costs a whopping $6,400 more then a 335i. This number was so big it wouldn’t even fit on our graph.
So the next time you think a hybrid will save you tons of cash, think about how long you plan on driving it and if its actually worth it. If you’re still thinking that a hybrid is the perfect car for you, take a look at this article about how gas prices affect hybrid cars. As an alternative to a hybrid, consider a diesel or electric car and read if buying a diesel is worth it or the cost per mile of range in an EV.
Written by Johncarlo Pecorari