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Hybrid vs. Diesel

Oct 26, 2007
In these days of soaring gas prices, it seems that everyone is looking to increase their gas mileage. In the past, those looking to drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle had just one option: diesel trucks and cars. Diesel vehicles use significantly less fuel than cars that run on regular gas.

There is an option to diesel vehicles. Recently, hybrid vehicles have been appearing everywhere. No longer are they just slightly odd-looking compact cars. Hybrid technology can be found in everything from compact cars to SUVs. Are you better off with the old, diesel standby or do hybrid cars really offer more?

Diesel vehicles

For years, the gas-conscious consumer chose the diesel vehicle. These earlier diesels were generally noisier, dirtier and handled the road more poorly than their gas counterparts did. In fact, five states currently do not allow the sale of diesel vehicles due to strict emissions standards.

However, this image of the diesel vehicle is very outdated. Modern diesel vehicles are much cleaner than their earlier counterparts are. Low-sulphur diesel fuel and new technology that helps trap emissions particles are making diesel engines cleaner than ever before. In addition, modern diesel vehicles handle nearly as well as their gas-powered cousins and are less noisy as well.

Fuel efficiency is still paramount when it comes to driving a diesel vehicle. With their average nine miles per gallon increase over gas-powered vehicles, diesels are a viable option for the fuel-conscious consumer.

Hybrid vehicles

Hybrid vehicles are the newcomer to the mileage game. These vehicles run on a combination of gas and electric power, and they promise vastly increased gas mileage and lower emissions.

While these vehicles deliver on the promise, there are a few shortcomings as well. The first and most glaring disappointment is that many drivers find that the advertised mileage and the actual mileage the car achieves are vastly different.

For instance, the Toyota Prius advertises gas mileage of 55 miles per gallon, according to U.S. government reports. However, when Consumer Reports magazine tested the car under actual driving conditions, the mileage achieved was only 44 miles per gallon. While this is still excellent gas mileage, it is far less than advertised.

In addition, the sheer price of hybrid vehicles can be daunting. While a diesel vehicle generally costs an average of $1000 more than its gas-powered version, a hybrid vehicle costs several thousand dollars more than a gas-powered car. The Honda Civic Hybrid base price is $4800 more than the standard Civic with the same options and amenities.

Given that the gas mileage on the hybrid is about 30% greater than on the standard vehicle, it would take an average driver at today's gas costs more than twelve years to recoup the cost difference. However, one must consider that some of this additional cost can also be recouped with the one-time federal tax credit. In addition, some states and even employers offer rebates to those who drive hybrid vehicles.

Given that the gas mileage on the hybrid is about 30% greater than on the standard vehicle, it would take an average driver at today's gas costs more than twelve years to recoup the cost difference. However, one must consider that some of this additional cost can also be recouped with the one-time federal tax credit. In addition, some states and even employers offer rebates to those who drive hybrid vehicles.
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