Getting a hybrid car sounds like a good idea, as it uses less fuel than gas-powered vehicles, but writer Des Toups points out on MSN.com that it's an expensive way to save on gas. In most cases, hybrids cost more than gas-powered cars, so if you wouldn't have spent that much on a car in the first place, you're not likely to recoup the extra costs. Still, hybrids do have some cost-saving advantages.
When it comes to gas mileage, hybrid vehicles ranks as the clear winner. Joseph White, Detroit bureau chief of "The Wall Street Journal," states that at $3 per gallon, you won't necessarily be able to make up for the difference in the extra cost of a hybrid. Should gas prices go higher, however, you'll feel a difference in your wallet. As you'll own your car for several years, it's smart to think about the cost of gas in the future.
When you sell your car or want to trade it in for a new vehicle, you hope that it's retained some of its value. Hybrid cars remain in demand, and don't depreciate as quickly as other types of cars, leading to an overall lower cost of ownership. In a 2006 study by IntelliChoice, a Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD lost 54 percent of its value over five years, while the Escape Limited 4WD lost 56 percent. The difference for sedans proves even greater -- the Civic Hybrid lost just 41 percent of its value over five years, while the Civic EX lost 48 percent.
In some areas, owning a hybrid vehicle can help you bypass the toll booths. For example, in California, if you get a Clean Air Sticker for your car, you can drive in the high occupancy vehicle lane -- even when you only have one person in the car -- and avoid paying the toll to cross the San Francisco Bay Bridge, for example. Check your area to see if you receive similar perks.
Though the cost of repairing a hybrid car sometimes comes out higher than the charges for fixing a gas-powered car, IntelliChoice reports that maintenance -- including oil changes, tire rotations and other general work -- typically costs less for hybrids.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.