Bringing Down the High Cost of Hybrids
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2011 Hybrid Scorecard does a good job of slicing and dicing 34 hybrid vehicles, looking at more than EPA mpg numbers. The group evaluates hybrids by how well they perform environmentally over their conventional equivalents, the cost-effectiveness of the hybrid versions, and whether or not hybrid shoppers are forced to pony up for premium features just to get that coveted hybrid thriftiness.
The mpg leader, no surprise here, is the Toyota Prius, which gets 50 mpg in the EPA’s combined city/highway test. But the pricier Lincoln MKZ and Lexus CT200h are rated as “superior” hybrid values.
Unfortunately, UCS rated 11 of the 34 hybrids on the market “poor” or “very poor” in hybrid value. Among the worst is the Volkswagen Touareg, which stickers for some $16,000 more than its gas-powered equivalent and achieved only 21 mpg in EPA combined city/highway tests – just 2 mpg better than a conventional Touareg.
Consumer Reports recently offered its own informal list of high-mpg-vehicle recommendations, which includes hybrids, diesels, and one gas-miser, the Hyundai Sonata.
-- Reed McManus