The envelope is in, and the winner is...? The judges are getting their honoraria's worth with the kind of decision they need to make to come up with in their selection of the best hybrid car there is. But it seems they'd really have a hard time deciding, what with the array of hybrid cars that are now on offer to, competing to be the top car in terms of safety, fuel efficiency, emission, comfort and technological innovations.
The CriteriaIn choosing a hybrid car, what considerations will you look at? Of course one will not opt for a hybrid if not for the fuel efficiency, otherwise, any other stylish sedan notwithstanding how much gallons of fuel it consumes will be a candidate for one's choice. So the kind of fuel consumption savings and efficiency will definitely be a prime consideration. Relative to this, the best hybrid car will have to have the lowest, if not zero, emission of toxic waste gases. So this criterion is in.But how will we choose the best hybrid car then? We can probably start by segregating these hybrids, say separate the coupes and sedans from the SUVs and vans. Then segregate them further by dividing the cars into compacts, mid-sized sedans, and so forth. Segregate the pickups from mid- to full-sized trucks. Separate the vans from the mini-vans. The lists goes and on just as the list of available hybrid cars continues to lengthen.Then you can probably go to the level of body styles, drivetrains, engine power, transmission size and drive, and a host of performance criteria to look for.Price may be farther down the list, as hybrid cars will almost surely compensate for the initial higher cost through fuel savings and other economy features.
The Semi-FinalistsSome say the Toyota Prius actually started the race and all, and as such a pioneer deserves a place in the hall of fame of hybrids. The Prius starts at a suggested retail of $22,175, and comes with a savings bonus as an ECO-nomic car of around $2,000. Then there are tax benefits, too, for choosing an environmental-friendly car. EPA estimates come in at 55 miles per gallon for combined city and highway driving, and the AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) rating.What about the mid-size sedans, with more room than the Prius? There is the 2007 Hybrid version of Toyota Camry, which starts at around $26,000. Although the Honda Accord Hybrid and the Honda Civic Hybrid are also in the running, the Toyota Camry consistently figures in surveys made of satisfied hybrid users. The Camry Hybrid attains 34 miles to the gallon as far as EPA ratings go.Let us go now to sport utility vehicles. The Ford Escape Hybrid is great, but price considerations and its full-SUV features make it less popular than the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid, a more compact contemporary, that's priced reasonably at around $23,000, not to mention the tax benefits it gets for being a "green" SUV. Surveys show that this hybrid is comparable to other same-sized SUVs in terms of fuel efficiency and emission-levels.Compare the Ford Escape Hybrid now to another Toyota SUV, and you get the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid winning by an edge, if car reviews are to be believed. Reviewers say the performance and efficiency of the Highlander makes it a number one contender for the best large-type SUV of the hybrid kind. At estimated price of $32,500, the EPA ratings of 25 or 26 miles to the gallon for city and highway driving are manageable, if one looks at the long-term fuel savings.
The Verdict?The title of best hybrid car will always be relative - relative as to the type of considerations the buyer and driver will look for in his hybrid. But with the plethora of hybrids out there, it should not be that much of a problem to find the best one for you.