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Our Top Five Favorite Hybrids

Green  /   /  By Bradley Berman

When hybrid cars first appeared on U.S. roads in late 1999, they were seen as a temporary experiment. It was, after all, the SUV era, so the funky teardrop design of the Honda Insight and awkward shape of the first-generation Prius received derision—if they were noticed at all.

Twelve years and more than 2 million hybrids later, cars that run partly on gas and partly on electricity are commonplace in many markets. They have earned praise not only for their gas-sipping capabilities, but for their dependability, solid performance and attractive designs. Here are five gas-electric cars that should be put on any car shopper’s list—not just those trying to save money at the pumps or tread lightly on the planet.

Toyota Prius

2012 Toyota Prius C

The Toyota Prius is nearly synonymous with hybrid. The iconic hatchback has been the most fuel-efficient car on the market for six years running. Now, Prius is expanded from a single vehicle to an entire sub-brand—consisting of the liftback, the wagon-like Prius V, the cute Prius C compact (shown above), and a plug-in version. The Prius C is rated at a remarkable 53 miles per gallon in the city. The plug-in version takes it one step further, earning an EPA rating of 95 miles per gallon equivalent when running on electricity for the first 10 to 15 miles after a charge. Then, it reverts to a 50-mpg hybrid.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford Fusion Hybrid

The Ford Fusion Hybrid is credited as the smoothest hybrid on the road. The transitions from electric to gas and back are invisible to the driver. The current model is already efficient at 39 mpg in combined city/highway driving. But Ford engineers are expected to boost the 2013 model’s fuel economy to a whopping 47 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. That becomes even more impressive when considering the Fusion’s spacious mid-size sedan platform. A plug-in version is expected in late 2012.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is 30 percent more fuel-efficient than the award-winning conventional Sonata. It stands out among other hybrids for its use of a six-speed automatic transmission—rather than a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This approach provides a feeling of gear-oriented acceleration more familiar to non-hybrid drivers. Moreover, Hyundai offers the first only lifetime guarantee on the Sonata Hybrid’s lithium ion battery pack. The Sonata Hybrid’s raked windshield, sharp creases, and enlarged grilled results in aerodynamics that match the slippery design of the Toyota Prius (at just 0.25 drag coefficient). The EPA rates it at 35 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

Lexus RX 450h

Lexus RX 450h

When Ford discontinues the Escape Hybrid later this year, the Lexus RX 450h will become the most efficient hybrid SUV on the road. It’s already been the top-selling hybrid SUV for several years. The RX hybrid has an EPA designation of 32 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. The luxury SUV features a 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle 245-horsepower engine. Add two motor-generators for a total combined 295 horsepower rating. (A third, rear-mounted motor-generator is added on the AWD model to drive the rear wheels.) This gas-electric Lexus is loaded with sharp design features, luxury amenities and high-tech features including Remote Touch, a small touch-activated joystick to control dashboard functionality.

Honda CR-Z

Honda CR-Z
The small fun Honda CR-Z is the only two-seat hybrid on the market, and the only one available with a manual transmission. While not loaded with horsepower—just 122 ponies—you’d never guess that from behind the wheel of the CR-Z. The fun-to-drive quality is matched by a city-highway rating of 37 mpg. That combination provides a sporty fuel-efficient alternative to all other hybrids—or for that matter, anything else on the road.

Also: Keep an eye open for the upcoming 45-mpg 2013 Jetta Hybrid, the first gas-electric car from Volkswagen.

Check out the latest listings of Hybrid Cars at eBay’s Green Driving Center.

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30 Comments on "Our Top Five Favorite Hybrids"


Guest
Michael Lihou
3 years 2 months ago

I notice an absence of any SUV ,s in the Hybrids offered unlike the SATURN VUE (which we have ) and love , . We think GM should restart the SATURN line or at least sell it to the Pensky Corp.. so that he can reintroduce it the world .

Guest
Bradley Berman
3 years 2 months ago

@Michael – Actually, the Lexus RX450h is a SUV. You are absolutely correct that there aren’t enough hybrid (or otherwise super-efficient) crossover SUVs. With the cancellation of the Ford Escape Hybrid, it only leaves the Lexus hybrid SUV. The others are all full-size SUVs with hybrid drivetrains, which do save a lot of fuel compared to the pure gas versions. But they are very large vehicles. Saturn had the right idea with the VUE, but I don’t see GM bringing back that brand.

Guest
Brian
3 years 1 month ago

I think Ford would have a winner in the crossover/SUV market if they would consider putting the Fusion hybrid drive into the Flex. Not that I would even buy one. I love my Prius.

Member
3 years 1 month ago

If the Flex had a hybrid option, I would guess that the cost would price it out of the market. The 2008 Yukon/Tahoe had a hybrid system, but it cost more than $50k. GM sales of the Yukon/Tahoe were dismal to say the least.

Guest
Jim Irwin
3 years 1 month ago

Ford has a 2013 SUV that should be hitting showrooms soon called the CMax. I beleve there is a hybrid as well as an electric option.

Guest
Tom Mallison
3 years 1 month ago

What model is the Toyota in the top photo? did not see it identified.

Member
3 years 1 month ago

The top photo is a concept car – the Toyota NS4 Plug-In Hybrid.

Guest
Ken Wade
3 years 1 month ago

I can guarantee you whith in 5 years the hy-bred is going to be Natural gas cars and trucks.People that buy battery powered cars are trying but I`m 66 and they,,,,,,some day come up with a battery,but not now.Brazil,Iran,India,etc all run CNG.They sell crude to us and China.China doesn`t have the CNG we have and there are so many good things with the CNG verse`s electric or any other types of fuel.We are going to go back to high compression engines,more power,you can put a pumping station at your home and pay with your home bill.You can`t commite suicide in the garage anymore.It`s about half the price to put at the pump,,,,,but the government will mess that up with tax`s.They are drilling hole all over North and south Dakota,also Penn.These farmers are becoming instant Millionairs and still milk their cows.I have to go but I think you get my point.Ken Wade,Had a engine rebuilding shop for 25 years.So I know engine`s even Jay Leno Called me.So if you think I`m pulling your leg ,,,,,,,,,I know what i`m talking about.

Guest
MidWestMike
3 years 1 month ago

You may well be right but the Socialists will ruin it.

Guest
Michel Kun
3 years 1 month ago

for smaller hybrid vehicle
what is BADLY needed is a small, 1 kw gasoline generator
what is in the market are

too expensive. Honda. and still too noisy and do NOT have electric starting.
most economical are much to NOISY, by a big margen , a technological break has to be made.

I will like to hear any news.

Member
3 years 1 month ago

What’s wrong with a Volt? The Volt has a small onboard generator whose sole purpose is to recharge the batteries when a charging station or outlet is not available.

Guest
D.L.
3 years 1 month ago

What information can you provide on the Toyota above the prius. Is it one of the five hybrids to be consider.

Member
3 years 1 month ago

The burgundy Toyota is the NS4 Plug-in Hybrid Concept. Since it is a concept, don’t expect it to be available at your local Toyota dealership.