Editor’s note: Think a hybrid car is your only option for achieving significant gas savings? Think again: our friends at Low Impact Living point out several alternatives to investing in a new Prius. This post was originally published on Tuesday, May 27, 2008.
When I filled up my car this weekend with $4.09 gas (choke, gasp, sputter), I was sure glad I have a Toyota Prius and won’t have to fill up for another couple of weeks. But I hear from a lot of folks that they think they can’t afford a hybrid and they have to hang on to their sub-20 MPG cars. That got me to thinking about ways to find affordable hybrid options so folks can save money and reduce their contribution to global warming. Here is what I’ve found.
Buy a used hybrid! The Honda Civic Hybrid is probably your most affordable choice, as they are quite a bit cheaper than my beloved Priuses. (What is the plural of Prius? Priuses? Pri-i?) The Civic Hybrid gets 40-45 MPG and is a great all-around commuter car. I searched and found a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid with 49,000 miles for $16,000 in Los Angeles. I found a 2006 model in Kansas City with 52,000 miles for $18,000. The only Toyota Prius I could find in LA for under $20K had 79,000 miles on it! You might also try looking for Ford Escape Hybrids– there seem to be many of those available around the country. You can search for used hybrids in your city by clicking here.
You can get a used MINI. The MINI Cooper is not a hybrid, but it gets pretty great gas mileage– it gets 32 MPG on the highway. From what I hear you don’t need to get the “S” model (S has 172 horsepower vs. 118 for the standard), as the standard MINI has plenty of pick up. Also, the standard gets better gas mileage than the S and it’s cheaper. You can get a good used one for $16-20,000 across the country. You’ll be saving gas, reducing green-house gas emissions AND look super-cute! You can find MINIs here.
Order a Smart Car. Like the MINI, the Smart is small but mighty. The base Smart for two starts at $11,600 and it’s a real mileage winner– it gets 33 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway. Yes, there is a waiting list for these little dynamos: depending on the dealer and where you live it can be 2-4 months. But it’s a great economical option. Click here to learn more about the Smart cars.
How about an electric car? You can get a ZENN car for less than $16,000. Just plug it into the wall, charge up, and away you go. It only goes up to 35 MPH, so you need to be doing non-highway, intra-city driving. But it’s an amazing auto and you can be green-house-gas-guilt-free! Learn more about the ZENN here.
Or you can wait a bit longer for Honda to unveil it’s new “affordable hybrid.” Honda President Takeo Fukui announced last year that Honda would be releasing a new hybrid brand in early 2009 that would be cheaper than their current Civic Hybrid line. Honda has been tightly guarding the details about its next hybrid, but you can read more about it here.
And while you ponder your efficient-auto options, be sure to get the best gas mileage you can with these gas- and money-saving driving tips.