Forget emotion for a moment. If you were to base your next new car purchase purely on logic, what would it be? If you live in America, you most likely would buy either A) a V8-powered pickup or B) a fuel efficient hybrid. Why? Because either you need to move stuff around (pickup) or just yourself (hybrid). Yet for all their fuel-saving frugality, most hybrids don’t pay back the extra cost spent on the technology very quickly.
Except perhaps one. A Canadian study of 16 different hybrids found that just one, the Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid, cost less to own and run than its gasoline counterpart (that would be the regular S400). How is that so?
Which may leave Prius owners feeling a little butt-sore. Admittedly, many people buy hybrids because they want to make a statement (“I’m saving the world!”) and by using less fuel, they are, in a way, making a difference and sending a message to automakers. That said, if you really want to get the most bang for your motoring buck, a sub-$20,000 compact car usually gets over 30 mpg and will cost a few grand less than the hybrid you are considering. The exception to this might be the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, which will have the same cost as its gas-powered counterpart. While too-new to include in this test, it will be interesting to see what kind of cost savings come up after a few years of ownership with the MKZ hybrid vs. a standard MKZ.