We Know It’s Green, But Is The Prius Worth It Financially?

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If you’re in the market for a car, opting for a hybrid vehicle can save you tons of cash in the long run and keep you eco-friendly.

The Toyota Prius is by far the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the market today. The new 2010 model boasts 50 MPG (miles per gallon). Assuming you drive 15,000 miles a year, we’re talking about a low annual fuel cost of roughly $873.

The drawback? The hybrid vehicle is notably more expensive than non-hybrid ones. The 2010 Prius’ manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $22,150.  Comparable non-hybrid sedans, such as the 2010 Ford Focus and the 2010 Honda Civic, go for about $17,895 and $16,165, respectively.

It’s true, the Prius might cost you more than your average vehicle, but you’ll have to refill its tank less often. The Prius can go up to 536 miles on a tank, while the Focus and Civic can go only about 342 miles.  This difference yields an average of $685 in gas savings per year!

How does the Prius match up to other hybrid vehicles, you ask? The 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid, which has the second lowest annual fuel cost and an MPG of 42, will run you about $1039 per year in gas. A larger 4WD hybrid such as the 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe has an MPG of 21 and will guzzle up to $2013 per year. Case and point:  High MPGs equal lower fuel costs, and the Prius comes out as the winner in gas savings. Check out Fuel Economy to see how your car measures up.

So at the end of the day, do the gas savings make up for the added cost of the Prius? If you were to opt for a Prius over a Civic, it would take nearly 9 years to make up the difference in price through gas savings, and if you were to opt for the Prius over a Ford Focus, it would take over six years break even.  Whether or not the Prius makes financial sense for you depends on how long you plan on driving your vehicle.  If you’re looking to keep it for the long run, you’ll be better off investing in a Prius.  If you’re going to drive it for less than six years, you might be financially better off getting a standard vehicle at a low price.

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  • Jekin Rikhav

    I think that the savings would be there. But I think I would be best off finding one from a private seller and try to get both my budget and some gas savings. Or another car with good mpg. I sold a car I love (and owned outright) to finance home renovations for the baby on the way. I'm thinking while I'm going to have to adjust to a car with less features and comforts I will be happier in a situation where I'm not stressing about my payments.
    http://www.greenliving9.com/

  • AA

    I hate that these types of articles/calculations generally fail to account for two very important things.nn1) If you end up needing to plug in a lot, your power bill can go up (more of a concern on all electric, but still)nn2) No one EVER thinks about maintenance on these things. Okay, think about your laptop battery. In the beginning you get what…3 hours of work? What about 1-2 years later…you’ve got just enough juice to run from one outlet to another before that sucker dies, especially if you haven’t cared for it properly. Batteries in electrics and hybrids might make it a bit longer than that (2001 Prius probably had it done in the last few years or will be due very soon if they are lucky enough to still be going) , but they eventually have the same issue. And replacing the batteries? Plan up to $5k. And for anyone feeling all earth friendly and green know that the toxicity involved with making and disposing those batteries far outweighs the emissions from an all gas vehicle (I don’t recall the statistics, but I believe it’s nearly 2 times).nnI think you need to plan this in the cost of your Prius if you are going to hang onto it for more than 5 years (like a good greenminded person should). And it’s food for thought before EVER buying one used…you should find out how old the pack is.nnPlus even with regular breakdowns…not a lot of mechanics yet know how to service the special hybrid drive parts on these. Those that do charge A LOT. Plus the parts are not yet in high enough production quantities to reduce the cost. So those also cost A LOT.nnBeware. The technology is improving, but it’s not there yet. Feel free to buy a hybrid if you like it, but I’m not sure I’d view it as a cost saver just yet.

    • AA

      And I should point out that this battery replacement IS likely to affect you if you hang onto your car the 6-9 years advocated by this article…which adds another 5+ years to make up the cost of battery replacement (since the comparable gas cars don’t need engine/fuel system replacements unless you’ve been REALLY bad to them). By then the cost of changing the pack again may be reduced thanks to advances in technology, but it will still probably cost you a lot more than the car is worth if it’s still on the road at that time.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.

  • Bmoseler

    You dont ” Plug In a prius”

    The Battery last longer than the car its been in use for over 14 years.

    great car well worth it in my opinion.