Hybrid Vehicle Comparison

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Money in gas capThere are three primary types of hybrid vehicles we are going to compare: the parallel hybrid, the mild hybrid and the plug-in hybrid. Then we provide an overview of the car models on the market as of summer 2012.

Hybrid vehicle type 1: Mild Hybrid

Our hybrid vehicle comparison begins with the mild hybrid. In the case of the mild hybrid, the electric motor is used more to assist the gas-powered engine as opposed to being used to actually drive the car during times when less power is required. In the mild hybrid, the electric motor usually serves to power the air conditioning and heating units, the power steering, and other systems easily powered by electricity. By using electric energy for these kinds of functions instead of petroleum, the vehicle reduces the amount of fuel consumption used by standard petroleum powered vehicles.

Hybrid vehicle type 2: Plug-in Hybrid

Next up in our hybrid vehicle comparison is the plug-in hybrid. The name plug-in helps describe how this type of hybrid vehicle works. The plug-in hybrid relies more on electric power than gas power. The electric power is utilized for most of the driving and the gasoline powered engine kicks in to assist the electric motor. This is opposite that of the mild hybrid. The plug-in hybrid has much larger batteries than the other hybrid versions, allowing for a larger capacity for energy storage. Reasonably, this type of hybrid uses the least amount of gasoline and produces the least amount of carbon dioxide emissions. However, this type also requires a heavier electric motor that can not be recharged by the combustion engine alone. Thus, the term “plug-in” implies that it must be recharged at a stationary electric supply source.

Currently the most popular type of hybrid on the market is the parallel hybrid.

Hybrid vehicle type 3: Parallel Hybrid

Electric car pannelTwo round out our hybrid vehicle comparison we discuss the parallel hybrid. Again, the name parallel indicates how the two energy sources work to power the vehicle: they work together, in parallel, during higher speeds and acceleration. These cars use the electric power for reverse drive and low speeds because the energy demand is significantly less for such movement. When more energy is required for uphill and higher speeds, the electric energy is supplemented with the energy produced by the gas-powered engine. It is supplemented not separately from the electric motor, but in tandem with it, employing both energy sources at the same time. By continuing the use of electric energy in parallel with the added gas power, the negative effects of gas are reduced.

Current Hybrid Car Models

As of July 2012

As we become more conscious of the impact that we are having on the environment the number of hybrid cars available has increased. Below we will take a look at some of the current hybrid vehicles available on the market.

Acura ILX Base Sedan

MSRP: $25,900

Base Engine: 2.0L L4 150HP

Fuel MPG: 24 city / 35 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 2.0L in-line four-cylinder OHC i-VTEC with variable valve timing
  • Premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 24 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 28 MPG combined and 370 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 13.2gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 150 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 140 ft lb of torque @ 4,300 rpm

BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Base Sedan

MSRP: $60,950

Base Engine: 3.0L L6 335HP

Fuel MPG: 23 city / 30 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Turbocharged
  • Engine: 3.0L in-line 6 DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 23 MPG city and 30 MPG highway
  • Gasoline direct fuel injection
  • 18.5gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 335 hp @ 5,800 rpm; 330 ft lb of torque
  • Secondary power: 300 hp @ 5,800 rpm; 300 lb ft @ 1,300 rpm

2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 750i Sedan

MSRP: $97,000

Base Engine: 4.4L V8 455HP

Fuel MPG: 17 city / 24 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Turbocharged
  • Engine: 4.4L V eight-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 17 MPG city, 24 MPG highway, 20 MPG combined and 434 mi. range
  • Gasoline direct fuel injection
  • 21.7gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 455 hp @ 5,500 rpm; 515 ft lb of torque @ 2,000 rpm
  • Secondary power: 440 hp @ 5,500 rpm; 480 lb ft @ 1,800 rpm

2013 Chevy Volt Base Hatchback

MSRP: $39,145

Base Engine: 1.4L L4 149HP

Fuel MPG: 35 city / 40 hwy

Bodystyle: Hatchback

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 1.4L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 95 MPG city, 93 MPG highway, 94 MPG combined and 350 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 9.3gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 149 hp and 273 ft lb of torque
  • Secondary fuel economy:
  • Secondary power: 83 hp @ 4,800 rpm; 93 lb ft

2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Base Sedan

MSRP: $25,700

Base Engine: 2.4L L4 206HP

Fuel MPG: 35 city / 40 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 2.4L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 35 MPG city, 40 MPG highway, 37 MPG combined and 636 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 17.2gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 206 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 195 ft lb of torque @ 4,250 rpm
  • Secondary power: 166 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 154 lb ft @ 4,250 rpm

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Base Sedan

MSRP: $25,795

Base Engine: 2.4L L4 206HP

Fuel MPG: 35 city / 40 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 2.4L Theta in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 35 MPG city, 40 MPG highway, 37 MPG combined and 636 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 17.2gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 206 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 193 ft lb of torque
  • Secondary power: 166 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 154 lb ft @ 4,500 rpm

2013 Infiniti M35h Base Sedan

MSRP: $53,700

Base Engine: 3.5L V6 360HP

Fuel MPG: 27 city / 32 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 3.5L V six-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 27 MPG city, 32 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined and 516 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 17.8gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 360 hp and 258 ft lb of torque
  • Secondary power: 302 hp @ 6,800 rpm; 258 lb ft @ 5,000 rpm

2012 Lexus CT 200h Base Hatchback

MSRP: $29,120

Base Engine: 1.8L L4 134HP

Fuel MPG: 43 city / 40 hwy

Bodystyle: Hatchback

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 1.8L in-line four-cylinder DOHC VVT-i with variable valve timing
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 43 MPG city, 40 MPG highway, 42 MPG combined and 500 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 11.9gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 134 hp
  • Secondary power: 98 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 105 lb ft @ 2,800 rpm

2013 Lexus GS450H Base Sedan

MSRP: $58,950

Base Engine: 3.5L V6 340HP

Fuel MPG: 22 city / 25 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 3.5L V six-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 29 MPG city, 34 MPG highway, 31 MPG combined and 539 mi. range
  • Gasoline direct fuel injection
  • 17.4gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 338 hp @ 6,000 rpm;
  • Secondary power: 286 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 254 lb ft @ 4,600 rpm

2012 Lexus HS250h Base Sedan

MSRP: $36,330

Base Engine: 2.4L L4 187HP

Fuel MPG: 35 city / 34 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 2.4L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 35 MPG city, 34 MPG highway, 35 MPG combined and 508 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 14.5gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 187 ft lb of torque @ 4,400 rpm
  • Secondary power: 147 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 138 lb ft @ 4,400 rpm

2012 Lexus LS600H L Sedan

MSRP: $112,250

Base Engine: 5.0L V8 438HP

Fuel MPG: 19 city / 23 hwy

Bodystyle: Sedan

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 5.0L V eight-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 19 MPG city, 23 MPG highway, 20 MPG combined and 444 mi. range
  • Gasoline direct fuel injection
  • 22.2gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 438 hp
  • Secondary power: 389 hp @ 6,400 rpm; 385 lb ft @ 4,000 rpm

2013 Lexus RX450h Base Sport Utility

MSRP: $44,735

Base Engine: 3.5L V6 295HP

Fuel MPG: 30 city / 28 hwy

Bodystyle: SUV

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 3.5L V six-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Electric / premium unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 30 MPG city, 28 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined and 499 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 17.2gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 295 hp
  • Secondary power: 245 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 234 lb ft @ 4,800 rpm

2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Base Sport Utility

MSRP: $38,140

Base Engine: 3.5L V6 280HP

Fuel MPG: 28 city / 28 hwy

Bodystyle: SUV

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 3.5L V 6 DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 28 MPG city, 28 MPG highway, 28 MPG combined and 482 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 17.2gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 280 hp
  • Secondary power: 231 hp @ 5,800 rpm; 215 lb ft @ 4,800 rpm

2012 Toyota Prius II Hatchback

MSRP: $23,520

Base Engine: 1.8L L4 134HP

Fuel MPG: 51 city / 48 hwy

Bodystyle: Hatchback

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 1.8L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 51 MPG city, 48 MPG highway, 50 MPG combined and 595 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 11.9gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 134 hp
  • Secondary power: 98 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 105 lb ft @ 4,000 rpm

2012 Toyota Prius C One Hatchback

MSRP: $18,950

Base Engine: 1.5L L4 99HP

Fuel MPG: 53 city / 46 hwy

Bodystyle: Hatchback

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 1.5L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 53 MPG city, 46 MPG highway, 50 MPG combined and 475 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 9.5gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 99 hp
  • Secondary power: 73 hp @ 4,800 rpm; 82 lb ft @ 4,000 rpm

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Base Hatchback

MSRP: $32,000

Base Engine: L HP

Fuel MPG: N/ A

Bodystyle: Hatchback

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 1.8L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 49 MPG combined and 595 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 10.6gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 134 hp
  • Secondary power: 98 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 105 lb ft @ 4,000 rpm

2012 Toyota Prius V Two Wagon

MSRP: $26,550

Base Engine: 1.8L L4 134HP

Fuel MPG: 44 city / 40 hwy

Bodystyle: Wagon

Performance Specs

  • Engine: 1.8L in-line four-cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder
  • Electric / unleaded fuel
  • Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 44 MPG city, 40 MPG highway, 42 MPG combined and 500 mi. range
  • Multi-point fuel injection
  • 11.9gallon fuel tank
  • Power (SAE): 134 hp
  • Secondary power: 98 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 105 lb ft @ 4,000 rpm
About The Author:

Michelle holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and has worked in marketing at Bank of America, Mattel and Hanes. her 20+ years of digital and brand marketing experience informs our content and keep us on top of the latest security and safety issues. Michelle's advice and opinions have appeared in many outstanding media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest and Apartment Therapy, among others.

Michelle is passionate about living a healthy life. She shops farmers markets, cooks organic, and eats vegetarian. Juicing and smoothies are a part of everyday life. So are recycling, composting, and gardening. I guess you could say Michelle has a green thumb. Even when a plant doesn't make it under her care, she is still dedicated to making the earth a greener place for future generations.

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