Popularity for the hybrid electric car is growing quickly thanks to the cleanliness of their fuel consumption, low emissions and great gas mileage. Even Hollywood gave hybrids a little push when several celebrities opted to arrive at the Oscars in a Toyota Prius rather than a stretch limo.
Nearly all major manufacturers are turning out hybrid vehicles. Where there once were only small hybrids on the market, there are now luxury SUVs and family-sized minivans available. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has declared the Honda Civic GX to be the “greenest” hybrid on the market today. Also topping their hybrid list—the Toyota Prius and Toyota Corolla, along with the first SUV to be named among this top twelve—the Ford Escape Hybrid. Targeting families and long distance travelers, in 2006, manufacturers are expected to roll out hybrid versions of their most popular SUVs and minivans. Dodge will release its hybrid version of the popular Caravan, and Lexus will roll out a luxury SUV this month. Along with its luxury Lexus, Toyota is planning a hybrid version of the Highlander, one of their more popular luxury SUVs.
The retail price of a new hybrid car or truck is higher than that of a traditional gasoline powered vehicle. Depending on the options chosen, a hybrid may be $1,000 to $4,000 more. A vehicle with just the stop/start system integrated into it (the engine shuts off while idling and automatically restarts when needed) is less expensive than a vehicle with a fully integrated electrical running system. A full hybrid system allows for limited electric-only driving as well as supplementing the gasoline system. The gas mileage attained in hybrids far exceeds most traditional cars and the lower cash outlay towards gasoline may offset the higher retail price. Fuel economy in a fully integrated hybrid vehicle can increase as much as 40% in miles per gallon of fuel used over that of a gas powered vehicle. For example, the Honda Civic hybrid is listed at 48 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway.
More information regarding hybrids is available on the Internet. Each manufacturer’s Web site will have information about their vehicles, but to compare prices and learn more about the facts of the hybrid, some great informational sites are listed below.
www.mixedpower.com (a website for hybrid owners to share information)
www.edmunds.com (dedicated to car lovers. Includes up-to-date news and information)
www.invoicedealers.com (provides reviews on hybrid vehicles)