Hybrids are hot. It's as simple as that.
Which ones are the best? Cars.com has just published its list of top ten hybrids for 2008. No surprise -- the Toyota Prius tops the list for fuel efficiency and value for price.
So let's take a look at the two others in the top three:
The number two hybrid on the market is the Saturn Vue Green Line, pictured here.
Cars.com says the current Vue Green Line costs just 14 percent more than the gas-only version, but the hybrid gets much better mileage -- 32 percent better in the city and 23 percent better on the highway. What's more, the hybrid costs less than the gas-only V-6 Vue, whose mileage it roughly doubles. Right now Vue is the only hybrid SUV that does not offer all-wheel drive, but this will change with the 2009 model.
EPA-estimated mileage: (mpg city/highway) 25/32
Hot hybrid number three is the Honda Civic Hybrid. Cars.com says that even though it costs half-again as much as the base Civic is 51 percent, its city and highway mileage are 54 percent and 32 percent higher, respectively, than that already-efficient model. And that makes the payoff quite high. It happens to be an excellent car, too.
EPA-estimated mileage: (mpg city/highway) 40/45
So now back to the Number one hybrid -- the Toyota Prius, simply the most efficient and most affordable hybrid on the market. After seven years on the market, the Prius is still the best hybrid for people who just plain want to burn less gas and hope to save money in the long run, says Cars.com. The Prius was designed from scratch as a hybrid -- as compared with other hybrid models adapted from their gas-only siblings -- the Prius maximizes interior space. For example, there's a roomy cargo hatch instead of the bite-size trunks most hybrids have -- including luxury cousin Lexus 450h, which I test drove recently.
EPA-estimated mileage (mpg city/highway) 48/45
The rest of the top ten hybrid list in a future posting.