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Under the Hybrid Hood



Not all hybrids work the same way, but all hybrids now on American roads have three characteristics in common:

Dual power sources. Hybrids use the combined power of gasoline engines and battery-powered motors to run the vehicle. The battery lacks the full power of the engine, but it can provide a significant boost, particularly at low speeds. Some hybrids are capable of running solely on the battery for a period, but most require the engine to operate.

Engine off during idle. Pull up to a stoplight in a hybrid, and the gas-powered engine shuts off. The battery-powered motors handle the minimal chores required when the car's not moving, saving fuel.

Regenerative braking. Hybrids capture the energy from the spinning wheel during braking, and use it to recharge the battery. Hybrids don't need to be plugged in.

Several hybrids, and even some conventional cars, also use a more efficient transmission.

Continuously variable transmission. CVT replaces the standard 5 or 6 fixed gears with a larger array of very closely spaced gears to maximize fuel efficiency.

For a more information on how hybrids work, visit the Hybrid Center online.

For a detailed description of how a CVT works, visit Edmunds.com.

Fuel-efficient cars are becoming increasingly attractive to American consumers, so it's no surprise that more and more car shoppers are looking at hybrids. If you're thinking of buying a hybrid, you're looking at a range of high-tech cars that get great gas mileage, cut polluting emissions and earn you a tax break. What's not to like?

Hybrids save gas (and $$)
Hybrids get terrific gas mileage by harnessing cutting-edge technologies and designs. For example, the Toyota Prius, a mid-size sedan, is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 48 miles per gallon in city driving, and 45 on the highway. That's about twice the mileage you can expect from a standard mid-size car -- and that means big savings at the pump.

Hybrids are easy on the environment
Hybrid technologies reduce polluting emissions, including greenhouse gases. So choosing to drive a hybrid helps curb global warming and cuts air pollution, as well as helping break America's dependence on foreign oil.


Hybrid owners get a tax break
Even the government is catching on that hybrids are good for the country. Federal tax credits on hybrids are available until 2010 - the amount varies according to your hybrid's level of fuel efficiency. If you pay state taxes, you could have a deduction or tax credit coming on your state return, too. For more information, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax_hybrid.shtml.

Hybrids come in many shapes and sizes -- and more are on the way
Honda introduced the first hybrid to America in 1999 -- the Honda Insight, a two-door hatchback. Today, American consumers can choose from among hybrids in several major classes made by a number of major brands. The models listed below are available in 2009 -- click on the links for manufacturers specifications. For detailed comparisons of hybrids, visit www.fueleconomy.gov/.

Sedans
Toyota Prius Hybrid (hatchback), estimated 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway
Honda Civic Hybrid, estimated 40/45 mpg
Honda Insight (hatchback), estimated 40/43 mpg
Ford Fusion Hybrid/Mercury Milan Hybrid, estimated 41/36 mpg
Lexus HS 250h, estimated 35/34 mpg
Nissan Altima Hybrid, estimated 35/33 mpg
Toyota Camry Hybrid, estimated 33/34 mpg
Lexus GS 450h Hybrid, estimated 25/28 mpg
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid/Saturn Aura Hybrid, estimated 24/32 mpg
Lexus GS 450h, estimated 22/25 mpg
Lexus LS 600hL, estimated 20/22 mpg

Crossovers and SUVs
Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner/Mazda Tribute (FWD), estimated 34/31 mpg; (4WD) estimated 29/27
Toyota Highlander Hybrid (4WD), estimated 27/25 mpg
Lexus RX 450h Hybrid (2WD), estimated 32/28 mpg; (4WD), estimated 30/28 mpg
Saturn Vue Hybrid, estimated 25/32 mpg
Cadillac Escalade (2WD), estimated 20/21 mpg
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid/GMC 1500 Hybrid (2WD), estimated 21/22 mpg; (4WD), estimated 20/20 mpg

Pickup Trucks
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra Hybrid Pickup (2WD), estimated 21/22 mpg; 4WD, estimated 20/20 mpg

last revised 7/20/2009

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