Most people rest in one of two camps when it comes to hybrid vehicles. Enthusiasts who love their hybrid car swear that they will never return to traditional-gas-engine-only vehicles and believe with all their heart that hybrids are the way of the future.
On the other hand, fossil fuel purists argue that you’ll never get the same kind of power and acceleration from a hybrid than you might from a gas-engine truck or car. It’s a you-love-em-or-you-hate-em kind of thing for many drivers today.
And if you’re looking into getting a hybrid vehicle for the first time, it can be hard to find an opinion amongst friends and family members that doesn’t swing too far in either direction. Which is why we’re here!
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Like all vehicles, hybrids aren’t for everyone, and it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits of owning one before you make your move. So let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of buying a hybrid car.
Types of Hybrid Vehicles
Far from being the super-niche speciality cars they once were, there exists a wide range of hybrid engine types that have different advantages to offer. Here are some of the most common hybrid engines on the market today, with a brief description of how they work.
- Standard Hybrid cars combine the power of a gas engine and an electric engine to drive the car. In some situations, such as at a light, only the electric motor will be running.
And in others, such as accelerating up a steep incline, the gas engine will be doing most of the work. The gas engine also helps to keep the hybrid battery charged while it’s running. * Plug-In Hybrid cars lean more heavily into the electric motor for propulsion, and need to be fully charged via a cable (similar to an all-electric vehicle.)
On a short drive, if your car is fully charged, you will only use the electric engine. If your hybrid battery starts running low, the gas engine will take over. * Range-Extended Hybrid cars are basically just electric vehicles that have an on-board gas engine which serves only to recharge the hybrid battery. The electric motor propels the vehicle forward, while the gas engine works to give you as long a range as possible.
You might get a slightly different list of pros and cons of buying a hybrid car depending on which kind of engine setup you go for. But everything else will be almost the same. Let’s get into it.
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Pros and Cons of Buying a Hybrid Car
- Pro: hybrids are fuel efficient. Driving a hybrid vehicle is better for the environment as well as your wallet. Emissions ratings for even standard hybrid vehicles are significantly higher than almost all gasoline-engine vehicles, making them a far more eco-friendly choice to drive.
Plus, some of the less-fuel efficient models still get around 50 miles to the gallon on a bad day, so depending on your commute you might stop at a gas station as little as once a month! * Con: hybrids are more expensive up front. Take a look at any vehicle model today being offered with either a traditional gas engine or a hybrid setup and you will see a significant difference in the price tag.
Hybrid drive trains are more complicated to put together, less in demand, and therefore more expensive to buy. If you can afford it now, however, you will save a lot in fuel costs alone. * Pro: hybrids have better resale value. Especially if your vehicle is a hybrid version of an already popular model, you can expect to get a significant percentage of your original investment back if you choose to sell.
Because they are slightly more niche than the average vehicle and have more stringent maintenance requirements, people looking for a used vehicle are generally happy to pay the blue-book value of your hybrid. * Con: hybrids aren’t built for performance. Because hybrid cars are imagined usually as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional gas-only cars, their design typically prioritizes efficiency and economy over speed and acceleration.
They are additionally usually made with lighter materials which may affect handling and dull the driving experience for people who want to feel like a racer on their daily commute. * Pro: new hybrids come with long-term battery warranties. Most hybrid manufacturers provide a 10 year warranty or 150,000 mile warranty specifically for the hybrid battery, so if you’re within that mark you won’t have to worry about the expense of replacing it.
Typically these warranties will pass from owner to owner, too, so as long as you’re buying relatively new your used hybrid may still come with this benefit. * Con: maintenance is more expensive. Things like oil changes, tire rotations, and alignment will be the same as gas-powered vehicles, but engine maintenance and car batteries can cost more as labor is more complex and there might be additional parts and processes associated with the work. * Pro: there’s a hybrid to suit every lifestyle. The most notorious hybrid vehicle in the world has to be the Toyota Prius, a modest, family-friendly sedan that has a reputation of a tortoise: slow and steady.
This rep has extended to hybrid vehicles as a genre, but so many available on the market today defy this expectation by inhabiting the role of SUV, sporty track racers, luxury cruisers, and even muscle cars. So you don’t have to feel like you’ll be restricted to a ho-hum aesthetic or mediocre driving experience if you choose a hybrid as your next vehicle. * Con: battery replacement is expensive. If you plan to keep your hybrid vehicle for life, or if you’re buying a used vehicle, you might find yourself needing to replace the hybrid battery pack in your car.
This is no longer the $10,000 expense it once was as batteries become cheaper and easier to make, but it still represents a significant cost – usually around $3000 for parts and labor.
The good thing is you can easily find refurbished batteries for around a third of that amount, or even replace single battery cells if only a few are going out. Among the pros and cons for buying a hybrid car, this is slowly becoming less of a concern.
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