Best Hybrids for the Money 2013

Hybrid marker

Gas prices remain volatile, but even so, no one expects prices below $3 per gallon ever again, and many parts of the country consistently see prices near or above $4. As much as ever, shoppers need to know how effectively hybrids deliver efficiency for your dollar — if they do at all.

To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating to reflect efficiency bang for your overall buck.

It's simply the combined city/highway mpg divided by the base price (MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that number by 1,000. This formula can be applied to any type of vehicle, hybrid or not. A high mpg rating and low price provide a high efficiency-cost rating. A higher score is the better score.

We don't account for equipment levels, quality judgments, cost of ownership or any variances from EPA mileage estimates. The goal here is to pay the least for the most mileage, barring all other considerations.

Subcompact Cars

2013 Toyota Prius c
Price: $19,875
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 53/46; 50
Efficiency-cost rating: 2.52

2013 Toyota Prius c

With an efficiency-cost rating of 2.52, the subcompact 2013 Toyota Prius c is still the top-rated hybrid ahead of the compact Honda Insight (2.17). It's also ahead of the regular Toyota Prius, which tops the midsize-car category.

Compact Cars

2013 Honda Insight
Price: $19,390
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 41/44; 42
Efficiency-cost rating: 2.17

2013 Honda Insight

The 2013 Honda Insight remains the best bang for your buck in this size class with an efficiency-cost rating of 2.17. It also soundly beats its stablemate, the Honda Civic Hybrid, rated at 1.75.

Midsize Cars

2013 Toyota Prius
Price: $24,995
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 51/48; 50
Efficiency-cost rating: 2.00

2013 Toyota Prius

With an efficiency-cost rating of 2.00, the 2013 Toyota Prius is the best of the midsize cars and third overall - quite an accomplishment considering its interior volume and thrifty fuel numbers. If you value roominess along with results, the Prius remains the king of the hybrids.

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Price: $27,995
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 47/47; 47
Efficiency-cost rating: 1.68

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Those who prefer sedans will see that efficiency-cost ratings drop considerably. With its updates, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid tops the growing midsize-sedan hybrid class. The Fusion Hybrid has come under high-profile scrutiny after many owners claimed they weren't achieving, or even nearing, the EPA-estimated mileage. If this concerns you, consider the next-highest-rated 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which held this spot last year. Its combined mileage estimate is a less impressive 41 mpg, but its base price is lower at $26,935, giving it a 1.52 rating.

Full-Size Cars

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
Price: $25,995
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 47/47; 47
Efficiency-cost rating: 1.81

2013 Ford C-Max hybrid

While there are no affordably priced full-size hybrid sedans, there are now reasonably priced hatchbacks larger than the Prius, including Toyota's own Prius v. However, this is the one category out of three where the Prius model doesn't rule. Thanks to its higher mileage and lower price, the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid leads. Like the Fusion Hybrid, the C-Max Hybrid has accrued a disproportionate number of complaints about its true mileage performance. If this concerns you, the Prius v has a lower, but still respectable, 1.53 efficiency-cost rating.

Midsize SUV/Crossover

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Price: $41,015
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 28/28; 28
Efficiency-cost rating: 0.68

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Highlander Hybrid remains the highest-rated SUV of any size, partly because Ford's Escape no longer comes as a hybrid. The 2013 Highlander Hybrid's ECR is actually lower (worse) than that of the most affordable non-hybrid Highlander (0.74), but that's because the hybrid comes only with all-wheel drive. The gas-only Highlander with all-wheel drive costs more and thus has a worse ECR than the hybrid version: 0.58.

Full-Size SUV/Crossover

2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Price: $54,040
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 20/23; 21
Efficiency-cost rating: 0.39

2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

For people who need the capabilities a full-size SUV brings, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is the most cost-effective hybrid of its size. The Tahoe Hybrid can tow up to 6,200 pounds with rear-wheel drive, so for those who take their boats to pristine lands, this is the greenest option. Or is it? If you compare features, the Tahoe Hybrid might improve on a high-priced version of the gas-only Tahoe, but with a starting price more than $13,000 less, the base Tahoe has an efficiency-cost rating of 0.42 — better than the hybrid.

Pickup Truck

2013 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
Price: $42,130
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 20/23; 21
Efficiency-cost rating: 0.50

2013 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid

As the more affordable version versus its sibling, the GMC Sierra Hybrid, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado takes the top spot with a modest efficiency-cost rating of 0.50. If you insist on a Chevy pickup — or want a hybrid for hybrid's sake — the Silverado Hybrid is for you. But you can do better: The high-efficiency version of the 2013 Ram 1500, called the HFE, has a 0.71 efficiency-cost rating. It's not the cheapest 1500 truck, at $29,505, and its towing capacity tops out at 4,750 pounds, but it's much cheaper than the Silverado Hybrid and has the same combined mileage estimate of 21 mpg. The Silverado Hybrid tows up to 6,100 pounds, though.

Luxury SUV

2013 Lexus RX 450h
Price: $47,205
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 32/28; 30
Efficiency-cost rating: 0.64

2013 Lexus RX 450h

If you want a hybrid and a lush SUV, there are a few choices that serve that dual purpose well, but the Lexus RX 450h's efficiency-cost rating outperforms the rest. Even with all-wheel drive, the RX 450h's ECR of 0.60 outdoes the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid at 0.33 and Porsche Cayenne Hybrid at 0.30, both of which come standard with all-wheel drive … and $60,000-plus price tags.

Luxury Cars

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
Price: $29,795
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 39/38; 38
Efficiency-cost rating: 1.28

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid

Many folks remain baffled by the very notion of a hybrid luxury car, but there's proven demand. More of these seeming contradictions join the market all the time, including some truly efficient ones. Some would argue the compact Acura ILX Hybrid isn't exceptionally luxurious, but it carries the highest efficiency-cost rating of any luxury vehicle at 1.28. This edges out the 2013 Lexus CT 200h, which is rated 1.27. Despite a 42 mpg combined EPA estimate, the Lexus is priced higher.

2013 Lexus ES 300h
Price: $40,145
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 40/39; 40
Efficiency-cost rating: 1.00

2013 Lexus ES 300h

With an efficiency-cost rating of 1.00, the midsize 2013 Lexus ES 300h sedan blasts past the Infiniti M35h, which held this position last year. With a higher price and lower EPA-estimated mileage, the M35h's ECR is 0.52. Its main selling point for driving enthusiasts is its rear-wheel drive; the front-drive Lexus is less sporty.

2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 740 Li
Price: $85,195
Gas mileage (city/highway; combined mpg): 22/30; 25
Efficiency-cost rating: 0.29

2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 740 Li

With an EPA-estimated 25 combined mpg, which is impressive for a large, long car, the 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 740 Li has an efficiency-cost rating of 0.29. It's low for any hybrid, but it's the best of the full-size luxury sedans, beating the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid (0.26), Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid (0.23) and preposterous Lexus LS 600h (0.17). However, the gas-only BMW 740's ECR is better at 0.30 with an estimated 22 mpg combined for $74,495. The Mercedes S400 is the only hybrid luxury car that beats its gas-only version, by a slim 0.03 in efficiency-cost.

Related
Despite Efficient Cars, Savings at Pump Elusive
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid Video
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Comments 

nodiesel

I considered the Highlander Hybrid but went with the Highlander limited instead, because most of our driving is on the highway. The Limited gets an honest 26 mpg all day long, not far off the hybrid's highway mileage. But in town I miss the hybrid's outstanding mileage. If I drove much in town I definitely would have purchased the hybrid - the extra cost is a nice hedge against higher gasoline prices down the road, IMO any of these hybrids would be a great purchase.

although useful it would be better if you compared this to the top petrol or diesel in each segment

Tony

I think, all these cars are good to have from technological advances point of view but they make little to none purchasing sense. May be, only for the city people (who don't even need a car in the first place) hybrids are ok because difference in city driving MPG is good enough and this is where hybrids shine.

When I was shopping for a car, I considered Prius but went with Mazda3. Lets take actual world. In actual world, having prices from both dealers, I realized that it will take 8 years of gas savings for Prius to break even with Mazda3. During that period many things can happen. And then, for that I would loose all the driving dynamics.

Today, when states are scrambling for revenue and are looking to start per-mile taxation, these hybrids will make even less sense.

JimboPalmer

Tony it depends on how much you drive, and how long. I drive 30,000 miles a year on trips that average 55 miles each way, so my Prius 'paid for itself' in 3.3 years. Almost none of it was city driving, most was two lane roads with a 55 MPH limit.

Six

I'm happy to add that my recent purchase of a used 1st gen Honda Insight would net a 7.40 rating on this scale, not bad! It was a below market price and it's economy is excellent.

Just for fun, I looked up the numbers for the new Chevy Spark -- it would rate a 2.79 on this list, beating even the Prius C. I still think a better buy is a $10k used Prius if you're concerned about long term economy and want something modern.

Card13

I love to hate Toyota, but you can't argue that they do hybrids right. I would definitely take the Lexus CT over the Acura ILX. I'm still surprised at how much I like the styling of the Prius C. It's relatively hip and fresh, a much nicer design than the Insight and the related Yaris.

LadyAbigail

where's the chevy volt?

Others

When we compare cars, we should take the interior space. Prius has 7 cu. ft. more space than Corolla and also lot of extras.

If we ignore all those things, then we can even compare Camry with Yaris.

If we do proper comparison, we will realize that Hybrids are worth the cost.

frederick

although some of the luxury cars are very expensive,they are not worth to be classified as an expensive cars.

Others

well said frederick.

Only Prius and C-Max are worth for their price, interior space and mileage.

Those expensive hybrids sell only in 2 digits # every month.

Eric

@Tony, not every "city" has the mass transit or downtown area that cities like NY, Chicago, Boston have. Some "city folks" (especially outside NY/Boston/Chicago/etc) "need" cars.

Even in suburbia people do a lot of stop and go driving, 0mph-45mph-0mph.

Mo

I drive an 09 Nissan Murano AWD that gets a real world 23 mpg on the highway. I cross-shopped it against the Lexus 400h which was rated 25 mpg hwy and decided an extra 2 mpg wasn't worth the difference. I'm sure the 450h can do a little better but it's still not worth dealing with the complexity and expense and environmental cost of the toxic battery pack and the hybrid system.

fanboy

Mo don`t know. Highlander averages 28 mpg, about 10 mpg better than Murano.

fanboy

Mo don't know. Lexus 450h gets 32mpg, much better than murano.

Mo

@fanboy, actually the 400h averages 24 on the hwy, only one better than my Murano. Look it up.

Mo

@fanboy, Check out mympg on fueleconomy.gov which lists real world actual mpg from real world actual drivers. 2009 AWD Murano owners report an avg 22.8 mpg overall. Lexus 400h AWD owners report 24 to 25 mpg overall. So like I said, 1 or 2 mpg difference.

theburdsalls

my preowned subaru legacy scores a stellar 7.14. It also has awd which is great for the New England winter.

Gas Hog

I drive a Lincoln Navigator. Very comfortable for any trip. Not a tinker toy.

After driving the Lexus 400H for 5 years, I can attest to the fact that it most certainly does NOT get 24 mpg either in the city or on the highway. I'm lucky to get 18-20 mpg on a good day. I've taken it in repeatedly and they just roll their eyes, shrug their shoulders and say they don't know...Would not buy a Lexus or a Toyota again.

Yinia Wong

Well deserved victory for the Prius.. It’s a good value all around (not just sticker price)…I fill it up once a month for $15 (thanks Gas Buddy)… It costs $25/month for insurance (thanks Insurance Panda)… It has excellent resale value. And is cheaper to buy than a lot of other options. Not to mention it never needs repairs.

Dom

I have a Prius Three and just drove down to Pompano Beach on the Fla Turnpike and got 53 MPG doing 70 MPH all day. In town I get between 56 MPG and as high as 79.6 MPG driving between 45 MPH and 55 MPH depending on the road. And thanks to Shell and Winne Dixie I just filled up for $1.26 per gallon...I can't complain....

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