Because who loves going to the gas station? Now might be the best time to invest in a hybrid, gas/electric or electric car.
We keep watching in amazement (in some parts of the country, anyway) the plummeting price of gas. It was solidly below the $1.50 mark in Texas recently and even where I live in price-gouged overtaxed Connecticut it’s hovering around $2.09 (upstate it’s an even more reasonable $1.85).
So that makes buying gas less painful in the what-you’re-paying part. Not in the experience, though.
When it’s 28 degrees out, the price of gas does not make fueling up any less painful. (Or worse, when it’s 90 degrees and you can melt your makeup and frizz your hair all while getting gas.)
If you have to budget extra time to go to the gas station, the price of gas does not make my schedule less hectic.
Getting gas requires handling a dirty gas pump, smelly fumes and trying not to spill gas down the side of the car or on your shoes. The price of gas does not make that experience any better.
Sailing past gas stations and waving … “Buh-bye, y’all!”
A hybrid makes gas station visits less frequent; a gas/electric hybrid will take you there even less and an electric car would keep you from the gas station altogether.
My ‘mom car’ is a Toyota Highlander Hybrid—an SUV with a third row. I bought it when gas was cheap; about $1.75 a gallon. Within a month, the price of gas spiked to nearly $4 a gallon. The difference was painful, no matter how you look at it: I went from paying $25 to fill my tank to more than $60—a huge difference. But I only had to fill the tank every 10 days or so. THAT was a huge difference, too.
I bought it because:
- I knew that someday cheap gas would go away
- About 90% of our oil was imported from over seas — not a great sign for our economy
- I wanted to be more efficient and more thoughtful about our resources
- I wanted to show to the auto industry that yes, being efficient and thoughtful matters to me
Do critics and experts think you’re a sucker?
Gas is cheap and that is why people are buying crossovers and SUVs, the experts tell us.
But no. People buy the cars they need, and they always do, when gas is cheap or expensive. No matter what the experts think, you just can’t squeeze your husband, four kids and a golden retriever into a Camry (as much as you might love your Camry).
Luckily, auto makers see the big picture: Gas won’t always be cheap and people want more responsible, efficient cars. Oh, and there are government standards that automakers have to adhere to—called CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy— and they grow increasingly stringent year by year: The average car has to achieve 54.5 MPG by 2025. So automakers keep making more and more efficient cars, some super efficient to offset those very thirsty SUVs, trucks and performance cars.
The many options: Hybrid, gas/electric and electric cars
Hybrids, which use high capacity batteries to extend MPG, have been the most popular: They use gas but get better fuel economy than a regular gas engine. Crossovers include: Toyota Highlander Hybrid (28MPG), the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (33MPG), the Lexus RX hybrid (28MPG), the Subaru Crosstrek(30MPG)
Hybrid sedans include: Ford Fusion (42MPG), Toyota Camry Hybrid (40MPG), Toyota Avalon hybrid (40MPG), Toyota Prius (50MPG), Ford CMax (40MPG), Hyundai Sonata (40MPG), Kia Optima (38MPG), VW Jetta (45MPG).
Then, there are the plug-in hybrids, a huge and growing segment of fuel efficient cars; these combine the best of plug-in electric with efficient gas engines. Owners typically plug in their cars every day and some only go to the gas station a handful of times each year. Still, if you need to drive a long distance and can’t plug your car in, the gas engine takes over: Chevrolet Volt (53 miles electric, 43 MPG gas), Ford CMax Energi (19 miles on electric; 40MPG gas) Ford Fusion Energi (21 miles on electric, 38MPG gas); Hyundai Sonata (27 miles on electric, 40MPG gas), Audi A3 Strong (30 miles electric, 35MPG), BMW X5 xDrive 40e (13 miles electric, 24MPG), Honda Accord plug in (13 miles electric, 46MPG), Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid (11 miles electric, 50 MPG), Porsche Cayenne (14 miles electric, 23MPG), Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid (15 miles electric, 30 MPG), Volvo XC90 T8 (17 miles electric, 27MPG), Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid (20 miles electric, 24MPG).
Soon Chrysler will introduce the Pacifica plug in hybrid minivan, which is expected to get 30 miles to a charge and then be fairly fuel efficient when it switches to the gas engine.
All electric cars are for those who want to be completely free of gas-fueled engines. Popular models include: BMW i3 (80 mile range), Kia Soul (90 mile range), Chevy Spark (82 mile range), VW e-Golf (105 mile range), Nissan Leaf (107 mile range) Ford Focus, (100 mile range) Chevrolet Bolt (200 miles), Fiat 500e (84 mile range), Mercedes-Benz B Class (85 mile range), Mitsubishi i-MiEV (62 mile electric range), Smart Electric, (62 mile range) and Tesla S (270 mile range).
One last thing: More car for your money
Most, if not all, of these cars also qualify for tax credits that offset the purchase price, further reducing the cost of the car. So when you sit down to calculate the true savings of the low price of gas, think about this: With all the fuel savings and tax credits, how much more car can you really afford?