A lot of noise has been made over the past few years about the rise of hybrid vehicles. If you’ve not been paying attention, hybrid vehicles are those that use a mix of the traditional fuel engine and the power of electric motors. Popular amongst eco-friendly drivers, there’s a bigger and bigger push growing behind them. But are they worth the fuss? What are the benefits of a hybrid car? What are the drawbacks? And which ones are most worth a look at? If you’re still on the fence of the whole hybrid thing, perhaps we can shed a bit of a light on it all.
Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to hybrid cars. But most of the focus tends to be on the demonstrable proof that the car’s lowered fuel consumption is better for the environment. What about for the driver? Well, they also tend to perform much better than standard internal combustion cars in this regard as well. Sometimes it depends on the weight of the car, but in general, hybrids are more fuel efficient. This efficiency has proven be more beneficial in the city compared to country drives, however.
Hybrid cars are more expensive. The extra technology alone will see to that. Rising gas prices have just as much, if not more, of an effect on hybrids too. In some cases, it may be better to wait for gas prices to fall before making the hybrid purchase. There’s a reported increase in the stock of used car dealerships like harrats.co.uk which can offset some of that cost. There’s also a concern that some companies are using people’s willingness to buy hybrids to add ‘forced features’, too. As hybrids are still a small niche, this is expected to even out as the industry grows. Still, for now, the added price is still a key thing to consider.
Anyone who has handled a vehicle with two engines will be able to tell you about the added kick that extra source of power can give. Some consider the electric power provided by hybrids to detract from the power of the car, but that’s not essentially true. As moneycrashers.com states, the electric engines produce their power from no revolutions-per-minute. This allows instant access to the engine that makes hybrids snappy starters. This can be of particular benefit in the city, where you don’t want a slow starting engine holding you back.
With all new technology, there is a certain worry about how long they can be expected to last. Hybrid cars in particular have come under fire with this particular question. All models are different, and we will talk about a different result in the next point. However, the Prius has been building something of a reputation for its long-life. One nine-year-old Prius was put to the test at consumerreports.org. Contrary to some expectations, it performed almost as-new with no battery problems and only a second’s different in its 0-60. So there’s a lot less fear when it comes to buying the average hybrid used.
As mentioned above, the battery in particular is a focus of much speculation and concern in hybrid cars. Yet it’s not just that single nine-year-old Prius that’s showing great performance in that regard. Toyota has reported that replacement rates on their first generation’s batteries was close to 1 percent of all cars. That’s fewer than 200 of the more than 100,000 first gen hybrids on the road. Of course, it’s still to be considered, given how expensive these particular batteries can be. A replacement might cost you between two and three grand.
A lot of effort has gone into using lightweight materials. All the same, you will be hard pressed to find a hybrid that isn’t heavier than its traditional counterpart. Curb weight might not be a primary concern for most drivers, but for those who keep a close eye on performance it’s a different story. It makes 0-60 take longer, for one. There’s little avoiding this aspect. When you include the electric motor, battery pack and cooling systems, you’re bound to add more weight. In fact, the more power a hybrid offers, the more these components are going to have to weigh, too. That said, it’s been demonstrated this added weight tends to make them an even safer drive.
Hybrid cars need more preparation when it comes to the winter. Batteries discharge a lot faster in the winter. This can do a lot to counteract the utility of that aforementioned fuel efficiency. There are a few things you can do to fight the effects that the cold has on the car. Blocking the front grille can keep a lot of cold air from reaching the battery. Still, the fact you might be relying on your battery more in the winter for heating and lights will also take their toll. Indeed, depending on where you’re situated, this might not be a problem at all. For others, it might make their car more of a hassle for more of the year.
Hybrids are still relatively new, as we have stated. Which means the industry is still going through a lot of growing pains. The newer adopters are having this trouble more than, say, Honda. Contrary to the impressive long-lasting performance of the Prius is this review of the Volvo V60 Hybrid. It shows there are still some problems with measuring the electric power provided to the car in some cases.
Now, onto some of the best Hybrids you can get at the moment
The most often mentioned of the hybrids and considered the pioneer of the whole revolution. The Prius is sensible, reliable and long-lasting. So impressive can its lasting power be that it’s actually been included on autovenue.com’s list of the Most Reliable Cars on the Planet. It even comes with a guarantee of 100,000 miles. You’re not likely to get that at many other places. This landmark in car engineering is still a recommendable choice for anyone taking a foray into the world of hybrids.
Honda Accord Hybrid:
Hybrids tend to be on the smaller size, so the midsize Sedan option from Honda is a welcome change. It still has all that fabled fuel economy paired with strong acceleration. It has all the responsive handling and user friendly controls of your average Accord. However, it lacks a bit of versatility with no access to the trunk from the interior and a lack of folding chairs. The engine noise is also considered noticeable noisy. That said, if you want a roomy car that can get you and your family about the city time and time again, the Accord might be the hybrid for you.
Ford Fusion Hybrid:
If affordability is your concern, the Ford Fusion Hybrid could be right up your street. Listed as number 3 of rankingsandreview.com’s “Affordable Midsize Cars” it has made a name for itself when it comes to good value. It’s a good for easy driving, the switches between the different power sources being almost unnoticeable. Despite the smooth ride and comfortable interiors, however, it’s not without its kinks. There have been some complaints of overly sensitive brakes for a start. This might not make it as city-adapted as the Accord Hybrid.
Toyota Avalon Hybrid:
The Prius is far from Toyota’s only foray into hybrid cars. The Avalon is clearly designed to make up all the style that the other main Toyota hybrid may be lacking. With a great modern interior and power to match its agility, it’s not marketed as a luxury car but you can certainly consider it one. The hybrid Avalon might be considered too firm and lacking the excitement in the drive of its traditional counterpart. That said, if style’s important to you in your hybrid, we don’t think you can go wrong in this one.
Chevrolet’s latest foray into hybrid cars has been met with big applause. Hybrid cars have a tendency of not feeling all that fun to drive but the Volt has quickly lost that impression. Initially, unexpected fires from the battery caused a lot of concern and trepidation in the Volt. Thankfully, those concerns have since vanished almost entirely. At 7.8 seconds, it has one of the faster 0-60’s of the hybrid cars. It also has one of the more impressive all-electric ranges. For 53 miles, the car will have no reliance on fuels at all. You will need to charge a 120V battery for 13 hours after that, but still it’s impressive.
The hybrid revolution is clearly not going away any time soon. Volvo are committed to offering plug-in options for all their future models. Hopefully, in time, some of the bugs will be ironed out. Smoother transitions will be implemented. Forced features should begin to slip away as competition continues to heat up between hybrid cars. Future emissions regulations might even force the hand of manufacturers to take deeper steps into the hybrid world, too. Whatever might happen, these cars are here to stay and the world is a better place for it.