Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
With this year’s high gas prices, car shoppers have become less interested in SUVs. But some auto makers are trying to lure buyers back with new gasoline/electric hybrid SUVs that get better gas mileage than a typical compact car.
The web site www.fueleconomy.gov has EPA fuel economy ratings for all five 2006 hybrid SUV models, including the second model year of Ford’s Escape Hybrid and new hybrid SUVs from Lexus, Mazda, Mercury, and Toyota. The Ford Escape Hybrid 2WD gets the best gas mileage in the SUV class (36 mpg city/31 mpg highway), but the others are not far behind; every one gets over 30 mpg city.
Car shoppers can use the new “Fuel Economics” data on www.fueleconomy.gov to see how much they can save on gas by selecting a hybrid over a similar conventional SUV.
For example, it costs $3.49 to drive the standard 2006 Toyota Highlander 2WD with a 6-cylinder engine 25 miles (assuming gas costs $2.93 a gallon). With the new 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid it costs only $2.44 in gas to drive the same 25 miles. That works out to an annual fuel savings of over $600 for the hybrid.
Those who want to know how hybrids are performing in the hands of drivers like them can check out user-supplied ratings of the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid and the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Civic Accord, and Honda Insight cars on the DOE/EPA web site (“Fuel Economy Estimates from Drivers Like You”).
As of October 2005, over 3,000 users have shared their gas mileage estimates in the Your MPG database. For example, the database currently contains data on 51 model year 2005 Toyota Priuses that are getting between 36 and 51 mpg (48.5 mpg on average) compared to the EPA estimate of 55 mpg.