Consumer Reports: Current Hybrids Offer Quick ROI

With gas prices soaring, Consumer Reports' latest analysis of owner costs shows that drivers can save anywhere from $500 to $4,250 over a five-year ownership period by choosing selected hybrids rather than similar conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a recent press release.

Six of the 12 hybrids experts looked at -- Toyota Prius and hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Escape, Saturn Vue, and Toyota Camry -- can save consumers about $500 to $4,250 even without tax credits, and pay back their price premium after only one year. For several of these hybrids, owners can save even more by taking advantage of federal tax credits.

Consumer Reports' experts compared the five-year owner costs of 12 hybrids with those of similar conventional vehicles using their new-car owner-cost estimates, introduced in the April 2008 issue.

The Toyota Camry hybrid, which gets 34 mpg overall, saves the most money, about $4,250 over five years compared with a similarly equipped four-cylinder Toyota Camry XLE, which gets 24 mpg.

The Saturn Vue Greenline Hybrid can save about $3,000, while the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Tahoe save $2,000 and $1,500 respectively, when compared to their non-hybrid counterparts. With tax credits, the Vue and Tahoe come out ahead by about $4,500 and $3,700. Federal tax incentives are no longer available for Toyota and Lexus hybrids.

The report, "Which Hybrids save you money" is available in the redesigned October issue.

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