Benefits of Owning a Hybrid Car

Hybrid cars are a popular choice among drivers today. However, many drivers are still unfamiliar with how hybrids work and their benefits.


Mild hybrid systems (which have different names depending on the manufacturer, such as eAssist for Toyota) provide a small boost to the gasoline engine and help remove power-hungry demands from the engine.

1. Better Fuel Economy

For city drivers in particular, hybrids offer better fuel economy than conventional gas-powered cars. This is mainly because the electric motors can propel the car at low speeds, and they often drive at a more efficient operating mode than the gas engine. That’s especially true during stop-and-go traffic and when coasting or idling.

Hybrids also use regenerative braking, which captures the car’s momentum and creates electricity to recharge the high-voltage battery. Unlike traditional brakes, which turn the car’s kinetic energy into wasted friction and heat, this allows hybrids to save energy and reduce the need to use gasoline.

A hybrid’s combination of a gas and electric motors can also reduce emissions. In CR’s testing, hybrids typically produce up to 29 percent fewer smog-producing nitrogen oxide than nonhybrid vehicles. And they emit a third less greenhouse gases than the average gas-powered vehicle.

Finally, hybrids have a lower maintenance cost than regular cars. Choosing a hybrid can even reduce your car insurance costs. That’s because the extra mileage and efficiency of a hybrid can offset wear and tear on your engine, which can reduce repair bills and maintenance costs over time.

If you’re looking for a new hybrid car, check with the brands and dealerships in your area to see what incentives are available. Many companies, including the eco-friendly retail chain My Organic Market and apparel company Patagonia, offer special employee benefits that can offset the cost of a hybrid. Additionally, some banks and credit unions offer preferential loan rates for hybrids.

2. Reduced Emissions

In hybrids, the electric motor helps the gas engine during acceleration. During deceleration and braking, it can generate electricity to recharge the battery. The electric motor also runs the car at low speeds and during idling, which reduces emissions. While these features help, a hybrid will never reach the same fuel economy as a pure gasoline vehicle on long highway trips.

Hybrids are a great option for city drivers and shoppers interested in going green. While they don’t have the range of an all-electric vehicle, they can still save you money over time and significantly reduce your emissions.

At Consumer Reports, we evaluate and rate many different hybrid vehicles to find the best options for our readers. We look at things like fuel efficiency, reliability, owner satisfaction ratings and more. We’ve found that most hybrids perform well and drive much the same as their nonhybrid counterparts. However, we recommend that you always check out our full ratings and reviews to see which vehicles are the right fit for your needs.

There are other ways to lower your environmental impact beyond buying a hybrid car, including using public transportation or riding a bicycle when possible. You can also limit your driving by planning your trips better or reducing the number of trips you make. Even if you do choose a hybrid, it’s important to properly maintain your battery and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.

3. Lower Maintenance Costs

Hybrid cars are more energy efficient than regular gas vehicles, so they don’t put as much strain on your engine. Consequently, they don’t need to be taken in for maintenance as frequently as traditional vehicles.

The electric motors in hybrid vehicles also reduce the amount of heat that the engine generates, and so they require less coolant. That being said, hybrid drivers should still follow the recommended schedule for oil changes and air filters, and be sure to use the right kind of fluid for the battery.

Unlike conventional cars, which have to wait for their engines to power up when you hit the gas pedal, hybrids provide instant torque from the electric motors, so they feel more responsive and fun to drive than traditional models. This also helps them better adhere to the speed limit and maintain consistent driving speeds without jerking between gears.

Some states and cities lower their vehicle license fees or parking rates for hybrid owners, and many insurers offer discounts on them as well. These cost savings can easily make up for the initial price premium of a hybrid car, especially since most models earn back their sticker prices in a few years through fuel savings alone.

Bryan Palmintier, a fellow at the Rocky Mountain Institute, has published several studies showing that some drivers are miscalculating hybrids’ true costs by not fully accounting for the ways they can save money. Hybrid cars can be just as affordable as (and in some cases, even cheaper than) their nonhybrid counterparts, and they’re much more reliable and practical.

4. Lower Gas Prices

A hybrid’s gas engine saves fuel primarily by switching to an Atkinson cycle for operation, which reduces energy losses associated with pumping air into the engine. Its electric motor(s) provide supplemental power when accelerating, coasting, or decelerating. Hybrids also conserve fuel by turning off the engine when stopped at a traffic light or when driving in stop-and-go traffic, allowing the battery or the electric motor(s) to recharge.

Regenerative braking allows a hybrid to “recycle” kinetic energy that would otherwise be wasted friction by turning it back into electricity to charge the high voltage batteries. However, since the high-voltage battery pack is in a relatively vulnerable location in a hybrid, a sudden collision could result in its failure to restart or even to operate properly, which can be dangerous.

While a hybrid is better for the environment than a traditional gas vehicle, if you’re buying a car solely to save money on gasoline (especially when prices are high), it may not be the right choice for you. A battery-electric car or plug-in hybrid may be a more practical option.

A hybrid has more moving parts than a conventional gas-powered car, so its maintenance costs are likely to be higher. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended preventative maintenance schedule to avoid larger repairs down the road. Also, keep in mind that you can further cut your car’s fuel consumption by substituting many trips with public transportation, carpooling, or bicycle riding.