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With the relative decline in U.S. gas prices are hybrid cars still worth the money?
The answer depends on what is important to you, but the top 6 hybrids that pay back any price surcharges the soonest still do so relatively quickly even at today’s prices at the pump.
According to the U.S. EPA, payback for the worst is under three years, and the best is zero years. This is based on $2.66 per gallon estimated for regular fuel, and $3.05 for premium and factoring 15,000 annual miles, 55 percent city, 45 percent highway.
At this writing these fuel prices are precisely in line with AAA’s Fuel Gauge average U.S. gas price report, so the EPA is spot on there.
Another variable that can change the results will be if you load your car up with options. As it is, the federal government compares respective hybrid models with nearest non-hybrid counterparts at base MSRP.
Of course hybrids exist for reasons other than just saving money. Their reduced fuel use is better for energy security, the environment, is convenient when you don’t have to stop to fill up as often, and lower consumption is simply less wasteful. And, it’s a hedge against if fuel prices do go back up.
However, it’s also true not all hybrids do “pencil out” with shorter payback times and relative sales numbers on our monthly sales Dashboard may be a clue as to which are which – but not necessarily. Some of these cars are indeed best sellers and others are just so-so.
Top 6 Hybrid Cars That Pay Back the Soonest
As true for any car, your mileage and results may vary but these are as close as possible to apple-to-apple comparisons using only EPA data as the guide.
6. Tie: Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited / XLE Touring – 2.6 years
By EPA reckoning there’s a $1,720 price difference between the hybrid and the non-hybrid 2015 Toyota Avalon Limited trim and XLE Touring trim.
At that rate of fuel sipping, the hybrid in Limited and XLE Touring trim accrue $665 in annual fuel savings netting a 2.6-year breakeven point under these ideal world conditions.
Note also the link above to the revised 2016 Avalon.
5. 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid Titanium – 2.6 years
Time to pay back is the same as the Avalon’s 2.6 years, but the Ford ranks ahead because the MSRP spread on less-expensive cars is slightly lower at $1,550.
Compared to the 2015 Ford Fusion FWD Titanium four cylinder, mpg spread is 42 combined vs. 26 combined – another stellar example in hybrid efficiency. Annual fuel savings is $585.
4. 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring – 2.1 years
Honda’s Accord hybrid is rated 47 mpg combined which surpasses the 2015 Honda Accord Touring rated at 26 mpg by a substantial 21 mpg.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid Review – Video
Price spread for similarly equipped cars says the EPA is $1,425. Annual fuel savings is $686 and it takes just 2.1 years at that rate to break even.
3. 2015 Toyota Prius Liftback Two – 2 years*
*Put a big asterisk on this comparison because the government matches it to a simalarly sized but quite different 2015 Toyota Camry LE.
The MSRP difference is just $1,230 and with annual fuel savings of $627 it takes 2 years to pay back.
2. Tie: Buick LaCrosse eAssist and Regal eAssist – 0 years
These mild hybrids are sold at no extra charge.
The EPA rates them number one on its list, but the mpg spread is less substantial than our number one, so we’re bumping them to number two.
Specifically, the 2015 Buick LaCrosse eAssist is rated 29 mpg, and the 2015 Buick LaCrosse is rated 21. Annual fuel savings is estimated at $524.
The 2015 Buick Regal eAssist is rated 29 mpg also, and the 2015 Buick Regal is rated 23. Annual fuel saving is estimated at $359.
1. 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – 0 years
Hurray for Ford and its Lincoln division which offers the MKZ Hybrid at the same MSRP as the 2015 Lincoln MKZ FWD.
This is a full hybrid system sharing components with the Fusion Hybrid and rated substantially higher at 40 mpg combined next to 26 mpg for the non-hybrid MKZ.
Annual fuel savings is $537 and regardless whether your results exactly match the EPA’s, whatever the savings are, you can put it straight in your pocket.