Are Hybrids Worth It in 2021? Today’s Case for HEVs | (2023)

Written by Nick Versaw

Updated January 4th, 2022

Are Hybrids Worth It in 2021? Today’s Case for HEVs | (2)

The popularity of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) has gone up and down over time. There was a surge in popularity in the 2010s — the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that 3.2% of light vehicles sold in 2013 were hybrids. That figure dropped to 2% in 2019.

That doesn’t mean that interest in all types of electric cars has decreased, but some of that attention has shifted toward fully electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3.

So is there still a case for buying a hybrid vs. an electric car? If you’re asking yourself, “Are hybrids worth it?”, you’ll have to take several factors into account, such as the price of gas, electricity, insurance, and other vehicle ownership costs in your area.

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Are Hybrids Worth It? 5 Things to Consider Before You Buy One

People buy hybrids for a wide range of reasons: to reduce their emissions, lower their fuel costs, or benefit from tax credits and other incentives.

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In some states, such as California, you can beat the traffic and drive in the carpool lane if you own a hybrid or another qualifying electric vehicle.

But the benefits of owning a hybrid aren’t always clear-cut, and they can vary widely depending on where you live and how often you drive. In some cases, you may be better off buying a used conventional car with good fuel economy, such as a Honda Accord or Hyundai Sonata.

And of course, different types of hybrids each have pros and cons. Buying a new hybrid SUV or crossover like the Kia Niro will set you back more than buying a used Prius.

Here are five factors to consider before deciding which is the best hybrid for you.

Environmental Impact

If you’re looking to reduce your fuel consumption, then buying a new hybrid model may be a good choice — but it’s important to note that hybrids aren’t zero-emission vehicles, and standard hybrids (HEVs) produce more emissions than plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

As the U.S. Department of Energy explains, “… PHEVs running only on electricity have zero tailpipe emissions, but emissions may be produced by the source of electrical power, such as a power plant.”

In other words, if the electric power in your region comes from coal, your hybrid will be less environmentally friendly than if you charge your car at home using solar energy.

Likewise, the International Council of Clean Transportation found that the real-world emissions of hybrid vehicles are higher than laboratory estimates, with city driving producing less emissions than highway driving.

So hybrids aren’t a slam dunk when it comes to reducing emissions, and you’d lower your carbon footprint further if you chose an all-electric vehicle.

But as the Sierra Club puts it, they still use less fuel than conventional cars: “If you put the fanciest, nonhybrid Camry up against a cheaper hybrid Camry, the hybrid wins.”

Lower Fuel Costs

Another reason to consider buying a hybrid vehicle is to spend less money on fuel. Just as spending a little more to purchase an Energy Star refrigerator will lower your electric bill over time, buying a more fuel-efficient car can lower your overall fuel costs.

To use the example of the Toyota Camry, the 2021 Hybrid LE starts at $27,270 — around $2,000 more than the conventional 2021 Camry, which has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,045.

(Video) Hybrid electric vehicles | HEV | Their advantages and disadvantages

The Department of Energy estimates that the hybrid version has a fuel cost of 6 cents per mile, compared to 12 cents for the conventional Camry.

This means that over the first year of driving it, you’ll spend half as much on fuel — $903 instead of $1,806. After two years, you’ll have saved nearly enough to make up for the higher price tag, and after 10 years of driving, you’ll have saved $9,030.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE2021 Toyota Camry
Fuel cost per mile6 cents12 cents
Fuel cost per year$903$1,806
Fuel cost per decade$9,030$18,060

Of course, gas prices go up and down over time, so the rate at which you earn back the difference will vary depending on your local fuel prices.

Electric Car Tax Credit

To maximize the benefit of buying a hybrid, it’s worth investigating the electric car tax credit to see if the car you’re interested in will qualify for it.

The good news is that plug-in hybrids are eligible for the tax credit, which may offset their higher purchase price.

For example, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has an MSRP of $28,500, while the RAV4 Prime starts at $38,250 — nearly $10,000 more.

But the Prime is eligible for a $7,500 tax credit and the regular hybrid isn’t — which may make buying the Prime a more affordable hybrid in the long run.

Keep in mind, though, that the credit is deducted from the amount you owe in federal income taxes, not a reduction on the sticker price of the car. So you’ll need to earn a certain amount of money during the tax year in order to claim the full deduction.

Charging Infrastructure

Are Hybrids Worth It in 2021? Today’s Case for HEVs | (3)

If you’re thinking of buying a plug-in hybrid, then you’ll also want to consider the cost of charging equipment and infrastructure.

Although you can plug your hybrid directly into a 120-volt wall outlet, this isn’t the fastest or most efficient way to charge the battery pack.

Most PHEV owners will choose to install a 240-volt home charging station, which can add another $300-$1,000 to your up-front ownership costs. The alternative is to rely on public charging stations, which typically charge a per-minute rate.

(Video) Hybrid vs. Electric vs. Plug-In Hybrid — What's the Difference? Which Is Best for You?

If you want to make use of DC charging, you may need to install an adapter on your car, since most PHEVs aren’t designed to be compatible with fast charging.

Is it worth installing a home charging station or fast charging adapter? That depends on your lifestyle. If you think you’ll be driving hybrids and other EVs from here on out, then it may be worth making the investment in charging infrastructure now.

Otherwise, you can simply rely on public charging stations and Level 1 home charging and decide whether or not to upgrade your equipment later.

Maintenance Costs

Finally, what about maintenance costs and in particular, hybrid battery replacement? Won’t that eliminate any savings in fuel expenses or tax credits?

Despite the fact that PHEVs have two sets of components — an electric motor and an internal combustion engine — their repair costs are more in line with electric vehicles than they are with conventional cars.

That’s partly because the gas engine isn’t engaged when you’re driving in all-electric mode, so you can put more miles on a hybrid without running into engine trouble.

Also, hybrids have a regenerative braking system that captures some of the energy lost while driving and reduces wear and tear on the brakes.

It’s true that if you own your car for 8 years or more, the warranty on your battery pack will expire, but all hybrid batteries are covered for the first 8 years or 10,000 miles, and many cars have been known to drive well beyond that without any battery issues.

Maintenance costs are important to plan for, but they shouldn’t be a dealbreaker when deciding whether or not to buy an HEV.

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Are Hybrids Worth It Compared to Other EVs?

Are Hybrids Worth It in 2021? Today’s Case for HEVs | (4)

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There’s no question that hybrids are more fuel-efficient than conventional cars, but are hybrids worth it compared to other EVs?

For drivers who don’t want to deal with the range anxiety or charging requirements that come with fully electric vehicles, hybrids can be a great alternative option.

They allow you to benefit from EV technology while still having a gasoline engine to fall back on if you run out of battery power or forget to charge it overnight.

Hybrids aren’t going to make all of your car expenses go away, but they offer significant fuel savings over conventional cars — especially as EV technology improves and the cost of owning a hybrid becomes even cheaper.

Plus, there are plenty of used hybrid cars to consider, which can reduce your initial costs even further.

Are Hybrids Worth It in 2021? Today’s Case for HEVs | (5)

Nick Versaw Managing Editor

Nick Versaw leads's editorial department, where he and his team specialize in creating educational content about insurance and other related topics. As an award-winning writer, Nick has seen his work published in countless renowned publications, such as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and U.S. News & World Report. He graduated with Latin honors from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Digital Journalism.

(Video) 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Review: Is a 302 HP Electric RAV4 Any Fun? Worth It vs. RAV4 Hybrid?

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Is it worth buying a hybrid car right now? ›

The initial fuel savings they provide are tempting to most buyers, but other factors are often overlooked. If you are simply looking to buy a fuel-efficient car, reduce your carbon footprint and keep the car for as long as possible, a hybrid is absolutely worth it.

Are hybrid cars worth it 2021? ›

If you are looking to buy a hybrid vehicle, thinking it will help you to save money, think again. For many people wondering if hybrid vehicles are worth it, the answer is probably not. The reality is that, in some cases, hybrid cars end up costing you more money than buying a gas-powered vehicle.

What is the big drawback of hybrid cars? ›

Poor handling: Hybrids have more machinery than conventional cars, which adds extra weight and reduces fuel efficiency. So, hybrid car manufacturers have had to make smaller engines and batteries to cut down on weight. But this results in reduced power for the vehicle and support in the body and suspension.

What are 3 drawbacks of a hybrid electric vehicle? ›

Disadvantages of Hybrid Electric Cars
  • High Voltage system repair costs may be more expensive. ...
  • They may have a higher upfront cost. ...
  • They may have less power when compared to standard ICE vehicles.
Dec 17, 2021

Is there a downside to buying a hybrid? ›

Some of the drawbacks to owning a hybrid car include: Higher upfront costs. Maintenance can be expensive (when it's needed) They still produce fossil fuel emissions.

Are hybrid cars being phased out? ›

If you make a decision to purchase a hybrid car now, you will still be able to drive it in 2030 – and there will still be a second-hard market to sell it on. However, your car will begin to lose value faster than before.

Are hybrid cars worth it for long distance driving? ›

Can a Hybrid Handle Long Distance Trips? Your hybrid can certainly handle long distance trips efficiently. However, there are some things to keep in mind. A hybrid operates more efficiently when kept under 50 miles per hour.

How much does it cost to replace a hybrid battery? ›

How much does a hybrid battery cost? Generally, a hybrid battery replacement cost can range from $2,000 to $8,000. The price can ultimately vary depending on the %%di_make%% model or even the service center.

What is the most reliable hybrid? ›

The most reliable hybrid car is the Toyota Prius with a 8.9 out of 10 reliability score. The Toyota Camry Hybrid is the second most reliable hybrid car with a rating of 8.8 out of 10.

What is often the problem with hybrids? ›

One of the typical hybrid car issues is problems with the evaporative emissions system. Usually, problems occur in the form of system failure or leaks. If valves or lines fail, you have to replace the system, but scheduling regular hybrid car maintenance can prevent this issue.

What is better a hybrid or plug-in hybrid? ›

A plug-in hybrid may be able to get a little charge through regenerative braking. But since a plug-in car has a larger battery that it relies on more, it needs to be connected to an external power source to fully recharge. Full hybrids can recharge their electric batteries through regenerative braking.

Is plug-in hybrid better than self charging? ›

Are plug-in or self-charging hybrids better? On paper, plug-in hybrids are more efficient than a self-charging hybrid, the bigger battery means a PHEV can cover more miles in 100% electric mode. However, this isn't a disadvantage if you're primarily using the car for city driving.

Are hybrids better than all electric? ›

The primary benefit is range. While an electric vehicle can only travel as far as its batteries allow, plug-in hybrids also have a gasoline engine and an electric powertrain. The result is that plug-in drivers get the best of both worlds.

What are the advantages of HEV over EV? ›

HEVs are Low Emission Vehicles (LEVs) since they produce fewer emissions than conventional vehicles. Lower than electric vehicles. You can use an EV until the battery pack lasts. You can drive an HEV for a longer period since an IC engine lasts longer than a battery pack.

Is maintenance expensive on hybrid vehicles? ›

The good news is that it costs no more to maintain a hybrid car than a non-electric vehicle. There are some things you should be aware of, however. Our service teams want to help keep your car running in top shape, so we've put together the helpful information below.

Do hybrids have worse resale value? ›

The lower quality and life expectancy of batteries in older models of electric vehicles make them harder to sell. In fact, the average resale value of these older EVs and hybrids is less than 40 percent of the original value.

How long will a hybrid vehicle last? ›

Since hybrids have both regenerative batteries and a fuel engine, both are used proportionally less — meaning both are likely to last longer. Roughly speaking, though, hybrid car drivers can expect to drive their car from anything between 5 and 15 years if suitable maintenance is carried out on them.

What is the life expectancy of the battery in a hybrid car? ›

Most hybrid vehicle manufacturers say that, on average, a hybrid battery pack will last from 80,000 to 100,000 miles.

Can I still drive my hybrid car after 2030? ›

Boosting New-Car Technology, California Says All New Vehicles Sold Must be EVs or Plug-In Hybrids by 2035. The rule approved today won't “ban” existing gas cars.

What is the future for hybrid cars? ›

The future of electric vehicles

Based on manufacturers' plans, he believes that most vehicles will be hybrids very soon, and that the majority of vehicles will be battery-electric by 2025, and fuel cell-powered by 2050.

Will a hybrid last 10 years? ›

For most people driving the average amount of 10,000 miles per year, the original hybrid battery will last long enough to get through a decade of ownership. As many people begin to look for a new vehicle around the 10-year mark, this should be enough.

Should I buy a hybrid for highway driving? ›

Which Benefits Do You Get From Driving a Hybrid Car on the Highway? Despite potentially missing out on fuel savings you would otherwise expect, hybrid cars aren't “bad” for highway driving. Many models are even designed to make highway driving smoother and more comfortable.

At what speed does a hybrid switch to gas? ›

A Prius' electric engine is powerful enough to handle those light driving tasks, so the gasoline engine only kicks on when the car reaches 15 mph. Depending how a car is used and driven, this can make a big difference in fuel economy. Gasoline engines, on the other hand, are big air pumps.

Is it worth buying a hybrid for highway driving? ›

On the highway, hybrids usually burn 20% less fuel than standard cars. Long distance drives with hybrids can lower fuel efficiency because the regenerative braking system isn't being used as frequently. As well, batteries in hybrids are a lot heavier, which means more fuel is expected to burn.

Can a hybrid battery last 20 years? ›

Unfortunately, hybrid car batteries don't last forever. Most hybrid vehicles will either need to get a new battery or get repaired within six to 10 years of their original purchase. Worst of all, hybrid battery repair can cost up to $4,000 on average.

What happens if hybrid battery dies? ›

If your hybrid car won't start because your hybrid battery dies, you cannot drive the car anymore. You would have to replace the battery in order to keep driving the vehicle, even if it's a hybrid and it still has gasoline.

Can you drive a hybrid on gas only? ›

Plug-in hybrid electric cars offer both gas-only and electric-only driving—even at relatively high speeds.

What are the most unreliable hybrid cars? ›

That trustworthiness doesn't always extend to other electrified cars. The publication found that plug-in hybrids aren't as reliable. Toyota's Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime are less reliable than their conventional hybrid versions, and the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid was one of the most unreliable vehicles in the survey.

What hybrid will last the longest? ›

The Toyota Prius (250,601) was the longest-lasting hybrid, followed by the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Lexus RX 450h and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

What is best hybrid right now? ›

Best Hybrid Cars for 2023
  • 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid.
  • 2023 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
  • 2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid.
  • 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid.
  • 2022 Honda Insight.
  • 2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid.
  • 2022 Hyundai Ioniq.
  • 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Is it better to buy a hybrid or gas car? ›

Hybrid cars are typically more fuel-efficient than their gas counterparts since they can switch between their gas and electric motors while being driven. The key reasons to consider buying a hybrid car are to save on gas and help reduce emissions while still getting the range capabilities of a gas car.

Why doesn t everyone drive a hybrid? ›

The first obstacle anyone interested in buying a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle will run up against is the higher cost of the hybrid powertrain versus its gasoline-only equivalent. Hybrid versions generally run several thousand dollars more than conventional versions of the same car.

Are hybrid cars reliable in cold weather? ›

Despite appearances, hybrid batteries perform well in even extreme cold weather. batteries in hybrid cars are resistant to very low temperatures. Manufacturers of this type of cars guarantee their trouble-free start-up and operation even at temperatures as low as -30°C.

What hybrid cars don't need to be plugged in? ›

One of the most common questions we get about hybrid vehicles is whether or not they need to be plugged in. For nearly all hybrids, the answer is a definite “no.” Hybrids, including popular models from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota, never need to be plugged in.

What happens if you don't charge a plug-in hybrid? ›

A plug-in hybrid runs on gas or electricity. Yes, you do need to charge its battery as mentioned – typically at home, if not also during the day, or en route – but if you do not, the gas engine will move the car just fine in normal hybrid mode.

What gets better mileage hybrid or plug-in hybrid? ›

Plugin Hybrid – Gas Mileage. Driving either type of vehicle will result in significantly fewer trips to Branford gas stations. But plug-in hybrids generally have better gas mileage when their electric ranges are factored in.

Is there an advantage to a plug-in hybrid? ›

Advantages of Plug-in Hybrids

Its electric motor provides some assistance to the gas engine, saving fuel compared to a gas-only vehicle. Additionally, certain driving situations can provide charge to the battery, though not enough to add more than a mile or so of electric driving at a time.

Will hybrid cars go up in value? ›

Greater Demand and Higher Resale Value

If you buy a hybrid vehicle now and then decide to resell it in the future, you'll get to enjoy a higher resale value for it. Hybrid cars don't depreciate as fast as conventional combustion engine vehicles.

Will car prices go down in 2023? ›

Prices could drop up 5% for new vehicles and 10% to 20% for used vehicles in 2023, according to a report in November from J.P. Morgan. The basis for the prediction is that demand has stabilized and vehicle inventory is improving.

Is maintenance on a hybrid more expensive? ›

The good news is that it costs no more to maintain a hybrid car than a non-electric vehicle. There are some things you should be aware of, however. Our service teams want to help keep your car running in top shape, so we've put together the helpful information below.

Should I buy a car now or wait until 2023? ›

Our analysts tell us that new car shoppers are better off waiting for discounts to kick in in the second half of 2023. Falling used car prices make it a good time to buy used. Even as new car prices begin to drop, they remain elevated.

Is it a good time to buy a car in 2023? ›

Americans planning to shop for a new car in 2023 might find slightly better prices than during the past two years, though auto industry analysts say it is likely better to wait until the fall. Since mid-2021, car buyers have been frustrated by rising prices, skimpy selection and long waits for deliveries.

How long until cars are cheaper? ›

In the U.S., the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index — which measures the prices dealerships pay for used cars at auctions — hit a high of 257.7 in January 2022 and has since fallen to 222.5 in January 2023. Overall, J.P. Morgan Research predicts used car prices will decline by roughly 10% in 2023.


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