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Used Hybrids: Get Them While They're Hot

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author photo by Autotrader September 2010

Looking at it from a cold, hard cash point of view, buying a brand-new hybrid does not make a whole lot of sense. It would take many miles of driving to recoup the price premium that hybrids typically carry over conventional cars. And that number of miles goes up whenever gas prices go down.

Also, new cars without all the extra hybrid equipment (batteries, electric motors, clutches, etc.) are becoming much more frugal. For example, the 2011 Ford Fiesta subcompact – from $13,320 – can achieve 40 mpg with its auto transmission, costing a further $1,070. The same company's mid-size Fusion Hybrid sedan – from $28,100 – gets 41 mpg.

The vehicle-pricing experts at Kelley Blue Book found that these circumstances have had an impact on the resale values of hybrids, to the point where the company says that now is the perfect time to buy one. Getting a used hybrid gives the owner a smaller price premium to overcome with reduced running costs. According to KBB's figures, the fuel savings for a used Honda Civic Hybrid could be felt in just five years of normal driving, as opposed to the 16 years needed for a brand new model.

There is one important thing to bear in mind: some hybrids are better deals than others. Dedicated hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, are in demand and maintain more value on the used car market. KBB recommends instead going for a hybridized version of a conventional car, like the Honda Civic, Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima.

The price of gas is holding steady for now, but buying a used hybrid offers an insurance policy against crazy fuel prices in the future. It also provides an opportunity to get on the low-emissions bandwagon, which is really more of a motivation for buying a hybrid than just saving pennies at the pumps.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Used Hybrids: Get Them While They're Hot - Autotrader