One of the chief benefits of a hybrid car (besides doing your part to save the environment and help to break our dependence on oil) is to save money on fuel.
But if you pay too high of a premium for the car, there’s really no benefit to your wallet—but the savvy shopper knows that depreciation is our friend! Buy used and you’ll save a bundle. Here are five hybrids that will save you money on purchase and at the pump.
Toyota Prius (second-generation)
The second-generation Prius (2003-2009) was the version that really put this car on the map. Unlike earlier hybrids, which returned their best results with a skilled hypermiler at the wheel, almost anyone could hop into the Prius, drive like normal, and achieve 45 mpg or better. Today these Toyota cars are a bargain, with later-model low-mileage examples going for $8,000 to $10,000 and high-milers selling for less than $3,500—and because they are Toyotas, you needn’t be afraid of high mileage.
Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Hybrid
The Ford Escape (and its near-twin, the Mercury Mariner) was one of the first SUVs to get a hybrid drivetrain, and with technology licensed from Toyota, it worked pretty darn well—and yet these cars were largely ignored by the buying public. That’s too bad, because there’s a lot to like about these vehicles: Their boxy shape provides lots of space, they are easy to drive and park, and they return great fuel economy. With hundred-thousand-milers selling in the $3,000 to $5,000 range, they’re bargains.
Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan Hybrid (first generation)
Everything we just said about the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner applies to the Fusion and Milan. These staid-but-steady sedans used the same powertrain as their SUV siblings and returned the same great fuel economy. While they may be a bit boring to look at, they are roomy, practical, and surprisingly good to drive. When we did our shopping, we saw mostly newer and lower-mileage Fusions, and hence higher prices—but these cars are still a great buy in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.
There are two versions of the Insight, and we imagine most buyers will be interested in the four-door. This hapless Honda hybrid never did achieve the fuel economy of the larger Prius, but it is an incredibly reliable car that should return at least 40 mpg, with plenty of low-mileage examples to be had for just $5,000 to $7,500. More interesting is the original two-seat Insight, an early hybrid with a three-cylinder engine from which skilled hypermilers can extract insane fuel economy numbers. These could be the first hybrid cars to achieve collectible status, and they currently sell for $1,000 to $5,000.
Toyota Prius c
Toyota’s smallest hybrid is still a relatively new car, having been introduced in the U.S. in 2012 and unchanged as of 2016. This pint-sized Prius can easily achieve 50 mpg or better in town. It’s inexpensive when bought new, but on the used market, it really is a steal—especially right now when low gas prices are driving down demand. We’ve seen cars with less than 10,000 miles on the clock selling for $11,000 or less, and 20,000-mile cars for under $9,500. Considering that Toyota are engineered to last until the sun falls out of the sky, that’s a ridiculously low price on what is, for all intents and purposes, a brand-new car.
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