Study: Not All Hybrids Created Equal – Toyota Prius and Lexus CT 200h Top Ranked

By Paul Riegler on 6 July 2011
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A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science-based environmental non-profit, ranked the Toyota Prius and Lexus CT 200h as the top non-luxury and luxury hybrid vehicles respectively.  Other high-ranking hybrids include the Ford Fusion hybrid and Honda Civic hybrid in the non-luxury category and the Lincoln MKZ hybrid and Lexus HS 250h in the luxury category.

The non-profit group ranks hybrids based on a combination of fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions, and the amount of optional equipment buyers must purchase when getting the hybrid version of a vehicle instead of the gasoline powered variant.

Some hybrids greatly improve their petrol-powered equivalent’s fuel economy, such as the hybrid Lincoln MKZ, which gets 39 mpg (6.03 l/100 km) compared to 21 mpg (11.2 l/100 km) in the gasser.  Unlike many automakers, who charge a premium of several thousand dollars for the hybrid version of a vehicle, Lincoln charges the same price for both variants.

Not surprisingly, hybrid versions of many SUVs including the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon  generally fared poorly in the rankings.

The vehicles that received the lowest rating (“very poor” for hybrid value included the Chevrolet Silverado hybrid and the Volkswagen Touareg in the non-luxury category. In the luxury category, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 and the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 as well as the Lexus LS 600h L also received a grade of “very poor.”

The group rated 34 hybrids currently on sale in the U.S.   Based on the ratings, the majority of these vehicles do not deliver the fuel economy and lower emissions that hybrid technology should provide and buyers could expect.

An interactive chart from the study is available online.