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

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

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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