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26 July 2017

These Hybrid Cars Get Double The US Average MPG

Did you know you can spend the average low-30s price for a new car with average 26 mpg, or – if you care to save where it counts – you can buy a hybrid for less than the U.S. average price with double the U.S. average fuel economy?

Hybrid cars are meant to be thought of in that way, and with around 40 models now available, they are seen as a lower barrier to entry for those just wanting to save at the pump.

True, conventional cars’ mpg is inching upwards, and plenty get in the high 20s, into the 30s, but hybrids tend to blow these numbers away.

Numerous hybrids get upwards of 40 mpg, and as of this year, there will be three that get over 52 mpg.

Just two years ago, the pinnacle was 50 mpg under the U.S. EPA test cycle, and now there are three with more possibly on the way.

Here’s the list:

2016/17 – Toyota Prius Liftback

Called the “Liftback” to distinguish it from siblings – the Prius c subcompact hatch, Prius v small wagon, and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid – the Prius Liftback is “the Prius” everyone hears most about.

Now in a fourth generation, since its 2000 launch (it began in Japan in ’97), the electrified veteran whose name is synonymous with “hybrid” is rated 52 mpg in most of several trims, and 56 mpg in a special Two Eco version.

In redesigning it, Toyota made it roomier, and much better handling than the Prius of yesteryear. The company so wanted to prove this, that it took media to a retired Air Force base in California and let them stomp on it through the sharp curves of an autocross course.

The difference between the 2010-2015 generation-three and the new one riding on Toyota’s stiffer New Global Architecture, and a rear double wishbone suspension is quite noticeable.

Operationally, the car functions satisfyingly, and its frugality at the pump means longer intervals between fillups, thus lower fuel costs.

Powered by an evolved 1.8-liter hybrid architecture, the system actually beats that of the smaller and lighter Prius c, rated 46 mpg. It also is the basis for the Prius Prime, which while we’re not giving it its own entry because it’s a plug-in hybrid, not regular, it deserves note.

The Prime actually gets 54 mpg in hybrid mode, and adds the bonus of 25 miles of all-electric range after its 8.8-kWh battery has been charged.

It offers all the benefits of the Liftback, some say it’s styled nicer, and guess what? Unlike the first 2012-2015 generation, this plug-in comes with no real cost premium. It actually starts around $28,000 thus within the Prius mid-20s to low 30s pricing scheme. And, it’s eligible for a $4,500 federal tax credit, meaning it may net for less than a comparable Liftback.

Is it a no brainer therefore? Well, more regular Prius Liftbacks are sold than the Prime, so it has yet to catch on. It does sacrifice some rear storage, and not everyone wants to plug in, though this is not a bother, and actually a benefit.

Both are worth checking into further.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

The Ioniq is Hyundai’s direct competitor to the Prius line, and on paper edges it out in a few ways, though really, it is a qualified decision which to choose.

If all you care about is mpg, the Ioniq Hybrid wins, being rated 55 mpg and 58 mpg in a more-efficient version sold as well.

Hyundai styled the Ioniqs along the lines of the Prius, but made the proportions less jarring, and it tends to blend in to the crowd much better. Some say it looks better, as the Prius has had its detractors, and sales are down this year despite the improvements.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Review – First Drive

As a car benchmarked on Toyota’s original, the Ioniq also matches it with a plug-in hybrid version, which while not sold yet in the U.S., is coming, and could get similar mpg plus 27 miles EV range, again beating the Prius by a little.

Powered by a 1.6-liter hybrid system, using one motor, not two like the Prius, the Ioniq further deviates by offering a six-speed dual clutch automatic, instead of the ubiquitous continuously variable transmission.

Hyundai did this along with the styling to make it have more mainstream appeal, as there’s been some pushback against CVTs which can drone without perceptible stepped gear changes, as an automatic provides.

The car is all new, however, so it has much less of a track record. How it may hold up, and how its resale value may fare next to the established Prius is an open question.

To help tackle that, per standard Hyundai practice, the Ioniq also undercuts the Prius in price by a couple thousand, starting around $23,000 and working up to a bit over $28,300.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Due soon is Toyota’s just announced 2018 Camry Hybrid which absolutely jumps to the head of the pack – for now – of midsized hybrid sedans.

Promising an astonishing 52 mpg in base trim, and 46 mpg in higher trims, the restyled car looks sharp and now matches the Prius, albeit with more power and style.

SEE ALSO: Will Toyota’s 2018 Camry Hybrid Rise Back To The Head of Its Class?

This vehicle also rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture, with more strengthening and safety built in.

It refreshes a venerable model that had been introduced in 2012, and refreshed with same 39-40 mpg powertrain intact in 2015.

2018 Accord Hybrid.

The midsized hybrid sedan segment, by the way, is the most packed with choices from several automakers. The former champ, the 48-mpg Honda Accord Hybrid is also being completely overhauled for 2018, also looks good, and it may have higher-than-48-mpg fuel economy for 2018. Could it actually match or beat the Camry Hybrid?

Unlike Toyota which announced its projected mpg numbers with announcement of the car, this month Honda’s announcement omitted that detail. Whether that’s an indicator or not, is anyone’s guess, but the car has had a history of outdoing its rivals.

Toyota however is the unquestioned dominator of the hybrid segment, and has held overall hybrid market share in the high 70-percent range.

The new Camry Hybrid arguably makes the case all the more to go hybrid over conventional alternatives because the conventional alternative would be a nearly identical sibling with mpg in the high 20s, low 30s.

Pricing for the new 52-mpg hybrid LE starts at $28,685, the 46-mpg SE stickers from $30,385, and the 46-mpg XLE is $33,135.

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