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2012 Hybrid Car Comparison

Updated on September 25, 2012

Over the past few years, Hybrid drive vehicles have become more popular on the American and world automobile markets. With rising fuel costs and higher awareness of fuel emissions, more people are considering buying smaller, more efficient, Hybrid cars for their travel and everyday driving.

Although Hybrids are becoming more popular in all types of vehicles, from trucks and SUV's to larger cars and even sports cars, the largest savings for fuel costs is definitely in the area of the smaller Hybrid cars. This 2012 Hybrid Car Comparison will break down the best Hybrid cars on the market today and tell you where their strengths and weaknesses are.


For most Americans, hybrid cars have been too expensive with not enough fuel savings making them a poor economical choice. Today, hybrids are getting higher MPG's, keeping more horsepower, and cost less, so they are a much more viable choice to save you money on a daily basis.

Below I have broken down a comparison of the top Hybrids selling in 2012, including a Toyota, two Hondas, a Ford, a Kia, a Hyundai, and even an affordable Lexus. Yes, I said an affordable Lexus. These cars range from a compact to a sedan size car so their is something for every family size. I know there are hybrids that are not included, but I felt these had the best mileage for the best price-point.

Hybrid Car Comparison: Saving Gas

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Although earlier hybrid drive systems were inefficient and saved little fuel, today's hybrid car mileage is much improved. Most of the small and mid-size hybrid cars on today's market average around 40 mpg. Of the 2012 Hybrid Cars, the Toyota Prius leads among true hybrid automobiles. the 2012 Prius can get an amazing 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway. Although there are some "electric" cars that can do better than the Prius in efficiency, Toyota's little saver is head and shoulders above the competition in gas burners.

The Honda Insight, the main competitor for the Prius, gets 41 city and 44 highway mpg's, so it is not far behind the Prius, however they have reached that efficiency by losing weight. Sadly most of that weight came from the engine compartment as you will see in the power comparison. Honda's better choice, in my opinion, is the Civic Hybrid. This slightly larger car has a better city mpg, better power (not by much), and more room with a better layout.

Some excellent surprises in the group, I think, are the Sonata Hybrid and the Optima Hybrid. Hyundai and Kia have done very well to get their main sedan efficient enough to compete with the other mid-size and compact hybrids. The Sonata and Optima both get a great 35 mpg in the city and an amazing 40 mpg on the highway.

2012 Hybrid Comparison: Affordability

Many of the 2012 hybrid cars are well within the affordability range for most car buyers. Even though there are still some models out there that are too much higher than their gas counterpart, these models are closer in price and provide plenty of savings to make it worth while. Although many of the larger hybrids and hybrid sports cars are still pricey, the smaller hybrid cars have become a very good option.

The best buy financially of this list would have to be the Honda Insight which starts at well under $20K. The Insight is smaller than the Prius, its main competition, and it makes up for it by a beginning price point that is almost $6,000 less than the Prius. Many buyers will disagree, however, saying that a Lexus for under $30k is a steal. Either way, both of these cars are excellent buys, so whatever makes you happy.

Probably the worst buy of the group would have to be the Ford Fusion. I like the Ford, don't get me wrong, and this Fusion Hybrid package has plenty of extras, but making an entry into the small hybrid market at $27,200 is a bit pricey. For just under $2,000 more you can have a Lexus with better mileage...

Top 2012 Hybrid Cars

Ford Fusion
41 city / 36 hwy
191 hp
Honda Civic
44 city / 44 hwy
110 hp
Honda Insight
41 city / 44 hwy
98 hp
from $18,500
Hyundai Sonata
35 city / 40 hwy
206 hp
Kia Optima
35 city / 40 hwy
206 hp
Lexus CT 200h
43 city / 40 hwy
134 hp
from $29,120
Toyota Prius
51 city / 48 hwy
134 hp
from $24,000

Hybrid Car Comparison: Efficient AND Strong!

For too long, American and imported cars alike have given up power and speed for efficiency. The same has definitely been true with hybrid cars. I know the whole purpose of the hybrid is to save fuel, but come on, who doesn't love a little horsepower every now and then. There must be a happy medium for most drivers to enjoy the savings of the new efficient cars, yet not fall asleep due to boredom while putting down the freeway.

In this group of hybrids you have both the weak and the good balance. The Honda Insight, for instance, is pretty much for the purist. It's 98 hp engine is not likely to pin you to your seat. You must be happy with slow acceleration, coasting corners, and "I think I can" inclines. The Insight does price and efficiency well, but lacks in this area.

The Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Optima have mastered this area. All three are around 200 hp which helps them top the 2012 Honda Accord (non-hybrid). Most people would accept the accord in the past as a good mix of efficiency and enough power to keep you happy. The Accord has a 190 hp engine with 162 ft lb of torque, which comes in just under the 206 hp and 193 ft lb of the Sonata and Optima. The Fusion comes in just below the two imports at 191 hp, just surpassing the Accord.

These numbers are, however, the stats for the gasoline part of the power plant. The secondary numbers, or stats for the hybrid electric drive, are definitely lower, but at the 150 hp range they are still decent.

2012 Hybrid Car Comparison: Best Overall Deal

I firmly believe that the decision of which of these cars is the best deal must be made through the lens of family size. Although I do know people who could get their children in and out of a Honda Insight or a Toyota Prius, most would prefer some room, especially for families with long commutes or that take road trips in their family vehicle.

The Hyundai Sonata has the price point of most full size sedans, has most of the amenities and room, and tops it off with a hybrid engine that ads 10 mpg to strengthen a family budget. Those are strong benefits of any family car.

The Prius will remain the king of the compact hybrid, above the Ford and the Hondas. They continue to have the leading MPG for a hybrid and combine that with a better design and definitely better marketing than the Insight. If the Insight could strengthen its hp and mpg, their low price point would make them much more of a competitor.

How Does This 2012 Hybrid Car Comparison Rate?

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of 2012 Hybrid Car Comparison

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