Choosing the Right Hybrid Vehicle

Hybrid Vehicles Have Different Fuel Economy, Emissions Ratings

Hybrid systems use regenerative braking to capture kinetic energy instead of allowing that energy to escape unused as heat. They also pause engine combustion when the car is stopped, in order to save fuel.

According to Cars.com, there are two types of hybrid systems available: the kind in which the engine is dominant, as with Honda and Saturn, and the kind where the electric motor is dominant, as with Toyota, Ford, Mercury, and Lexus.

Fuel economy is one of the most popular ways of measuring the efficiency of hybrid vehicles. Initially, vehicle manufacturers test pre-production prototypes, in controlled laboratory conditions, and report the results to the EPA. The EPA reviews the results and confirms 10 to 15 percent via their own tests at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory.

While new EPA testing methods better account for actual city and highway driving conditions, your fuel economy may vary based on factors such as aggressive driving, maintenance habits, use of air conditioning, and weather.

According to the EPA, their estimated combined mpg is calculated by assuming 55 percent city driving and 45 percent highway driving. You can calculate combined mpg using the equation

(.55 x city mpg) + (.45 x hwy mpg) = EPA estimated combined mpg

Emissions rating is another environmental consideration when purchasing a vehicle. According to the EPA, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen combine with sunlight and form smog, which can irritate the lungs and eyes. While catalytic converters, exhaust gas recirculation and electronic fuel controls reduce pollution, emission levels still vary among vehicles. A score of 0 – 10 describes a vehicle’s emissions rating. A score of 10 is best and 0 is worst.

2008 Hybrid Cars Ranked by Fuel Economy

  • Toyota Prius: 48 city, 45 hwy, 46 combined mpg
  • Honda Civic Hybrid: 40 city, 45 hwy, 42 combined mpg
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid: 43 city, 37 hwy, 40 combined mpg
  • Nissan Altima Hybrid: 35 city, 33 hwy, 34 combined mpg
  • Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid: 24 city, 32 hwy, 27 combined mpg
  • Lexus GS 450h: 22 city, 25 hwy, 23 combined mpg
  • Lexus LS 600h L: 20 city, 22 hwy, 21 combined

2008 Hybrid SUVs Ranked by Fuel Economy

  • Ford Escape Hybrid: 34 city, 30 hwy, 32 combined mpg
  • Mercury Mariner Hybrid: 34 city, 30 hwy, 32 combined mpg
  • Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD: 30 city, 34 hwy, 31 combined mpg
  • Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid: 25 city, 32 hwy, 28 combine mpg
  • Mazda Tribute Hybrid 4WD: 27 city, 29 hwy, 27 combined mpg
  • Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid: 24 city, 32 hwy, 27 combined mpg
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 27 city, 25 hwy, 26 combined mpg
  • Lexus RX 400h: 26 city, 24 hwy, 25 combined mpg
  • Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon: 21 city, 22 hwy, 21 combined mpg

2008 Hybrid Cars Ranked by Emissions Ratings (According to the Union of Concerned Scientists)

  • Nissan Altima Hybrid: 9.5
  • Honda Civic Hybrid: 9
  • Toyota Prius: 8
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid: 8
  • Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid: 8
  • Lexus GS 450h / LS 600h L: 8

2008 Hybrid SUVs Ranked by Emissions Ratings (According to the Union of Concerned Scientists)

  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 8
  • Lexus RX 400h: 8
  • Ford Escape Hybrid: 7
  • Mercury Mariner Hybrid: 7
  • Mazda Tribute Hybrid: 7
  • Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid: 7

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