The important factor here is that the tool attempts to comparemodels with similar equipment and features--a factor often ignoredwhen comparing a hybrid's price to the least expensive base modelof a comparable gasoline vehicle. As regularly noted--and criticized by the Union of Concerned Scientists and others-- hybrid models are usually very well-equipped , with features and equipment as part of their standard price thatare optional and cost more on comparable gasoline models. The new comparison tool can be found by clicking on the " Hybrids Can Save You Money " menu option. In the first step, the user selects from a list of 18 hybridmodels, including both dedicated hybrids (like the various modelsof the Toyota Prius range) and hybrid models of conventional cars. |
The list includesmild hybrids like the Honda Civic Hybrid as well as full hybrids like the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Then the user customizes the calculations by specifying annualmiles covered, what percent of those miles are city driving, andthe price of fuel to be used for calculations. Instantly, the calculator shows the difference in list prices andthe payback period based on those figures. Not surprisingly, hybrids pay back quicker if annual miles coveredand/or fuel cost rises. The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid offers a good example.
Its base priceis $29,570, and the calculator compares it not to the lowest-pricedFusion (at $20,705), but the Fusion SEL model that has the mix offeatures and options closest to those on the hybrid. The Fusion SEL's base price is $26,220--providing the mostrealistic, apples-to-apples comparison. Ah, you say, but I don't really want all those fancy features. Ijust want a bare-bones hybrid.
That may be true, but that's not the Fusion Hybrid that Ford will sell you. And until the company changes its equipmentlevels--which we suspect won't happen any time soon--the newcalculator attempts to compare cars with equivalent features. It's worth noting that while Toyota sells a Prius One trim level , essentially a stripped-down model, it's not available to retail buyers . It's solely for fleet purchases.
The choice of Prius trim levelsfor regular consumers starts with the Prius Two.
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