7 Under-Appreciated Benefits of a Hybrid – and 1 Unknown Drawback

Photo (cc) by anthonares

As a careful consumer, I studied up on hybrid cars before buying my first one. After poring through car reviews, I finally took the plunge and went with a 2007 Prius. But what I’ve learned behind the wheel has betrayed many of the preconceived notions that I once had – and that my friends still cling to…

  1. Hybrids can be fast. While my Prius won’t be winning any drag races, some other hybrids might – they were designed largely by adding one or more electric motors to the standard drive-train, resulting in multi-engine power. For example, Car and Driver found that the 2011 Lexus RX450h, with three electric motors, went from zero to 60 in 7.1 seconds – faster than the non-hybrid model.
  2. Hybrids can climb. I recently drove my Prius to the 14,000-foot summit of Mt. Evans in Colorado, which is the highest paved road in North America. The Prius had no problems on the steep climb, which I attribute to its continuously variable transmission (or CVT). Rather than using a number of gears like the transmissions in most cars, this design allows for an infinite selection of gear ratios. When accelerating uphill, the car “shifts” to the lowest gear, instantly harnessing 100 percent of the power available. Having an electric motor that’s immune to the thin air also helped.
  3. Hybrids can hold heat. The Prius and many other hybrids make a strange noise for a few seconds when you shut them down. I later learned that it’s pumping antifreeze into a 3-liter thermos-like storage device that can keep it warm for days. This eases starts, reduces emissions, and provides cabin heat much more quickly.
  4. Forget emissions tests. In many major cities, vehicles are required to regularly pass a time-consuming emissions inspection. When registering my car, I was surprised to learn that hybrids were exempt from this requirement in Colorado and in most other states. In retrospect, it seems obvious, but I wasn’t aware of this perk.
  5. The hybrid battery will probably outlive the car. Most people question the life of the expensive hybrid battery, yet my research showed these concerns are groundless. Consumer Reports recently tested a 2001 Prius with 200,000 miles and found the battery worked like new. The LA Times found that the Ford Escape Hybrids used as taxis in San Francisco were all reaching 300,000 miles before their planned retirement.
  6. Expect fewer brake jobs. It can cost more than $400 to resurface your car’s brakes and replace their pads – not a cheap maintenance task. Hybrids use regenerative braking to generate electricity while saving their traditional brakes, and owners report lowered brake wear compared to conventional vehicles.
  7. Less frequent oil changes. Your hybrid’s gas engine will turn off when the vehicle is coasting down hill, decelerating, or at a stop. Because this inactivity reduces wear on its gasoline engine, hybrids often have longer maintenance intervals. For example, Toyota recommends oil changes every 5,000 miles on its Prius, while Subaru and others require oil changes every 3,000 miles.

One strange drawback…

Given all of the popular misconceptions surrounding the durability of the hybrid battery system, you would think Toyota would go out of its way to make sure its owners never had battery problems of any sort. To a large extent, they do this, offering a 100,000-mile warranty (150,000 miles in California) on the high-voltage battery used for propulsion.

But to my surprise, the Prius and other hybrids also include a conventional low-voltage battery to power the accessories and start the engine. Sadly, the standard Toyota battery is poorly suited to hybrid use – a fact I learned after my car wouldn’t start one morning after leaving a small interior light on. Fortunately, Prius drivers have found aftermarket replacements for their low-voltage battery that corrects this problem.

Hybrids get fantastic gas mileage with few drawbacks, but drivers must consider some of their other surprising benefits when purchasing a vehicle.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon
8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon

They say you get what you pay for — but not always. Sometimes, you can uncover a good deal at a great price.

Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks
Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks

Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some ways to game yourself into stashing more cash.

15 Purchases That Make Life Easier As You Age
15 Purchases That Make Life Easier As You Age

There are many products that can make getting older — or any time of life — a little easier.

10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon
10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon

These freebies are available to anyone — no Prime membership necessary.

8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress
8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Current events have you feeling anxious? These Amazon products can take the edge off.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?
Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?

A growing number of people are wearing two masks instead of just one. Should you join them?

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.