Yonkers, New York – A new analysis of owner costs in the U.S. by Consumer Reports shows that drivers can save anywhere from $500 to $4,250 (all prices U.S.) over five-year ownership by choosing selected hybrids, rather than similar, conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. The report appears in the magazine’s October issue.

The magazine reports that six of the 12 hybrids it examined — the Toyota Prius, and hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Escape, Saturn Vue and Toyota Camry — can save these amounts even without tax credits, and pay back their price premium after only one year.

The Toyota Camry hybrid saves the most money, about $4,250 over five years, compared with a similarly-equipped four-cylinder Camry. The Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid can save about $3,000, while the Prius and Tahoe save $2,000 and $1,500 respectively when compared to their non-hybrid counterparts.

The issue also includes an analysis of how drivers can save gas and money by opting for a car with a stick shift, which can improve gas mileage and cut a car’s price by $800 to $1,200.

The magazine notes that it would take many years for most hybrids to pay back their premium price on just fuel savings alone, but fuel costs are only 25 per cent of overall owner costs in the first five years; other factors include depreciation, insurance, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax. The cost estimates were based on driving 12,000 miles (19,312 km) per year and paying $4.00 for regular gasoline and $4.20 for premium.

“Most of the hybrids tested by CR have done really well, but hybrids have higher initial upfront costs,” said Rik Paul, automotive editor. “If you can afford that initial cost, you can be better off buying one, and driving one might make you feel greener.”

The Honda Civic, Nissan Altima and Saturn Aura hybrids cost drivers a little more than their conventional counterparts, from $250 to $750 over five years, but some consumers might prefer to drive a more environmentally-friendly car. With U.S. federal tax credits, all three come out ahead after just one year.

The Lexus GS 450h, Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrids cost more than their counterparts in the first five years, with losses ranging from about $1,250 for the Highlander to $5,500 for the GS.

The magazine noted that hybrid sales jumped almost 40 per cent last year, and according to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 32 per cent of active car shoppers are considering a hybrid for their next vehicle.

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