Hybrid Cars: Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

It is very easy to calculate your own personal monthly automobile emissions on the internet. One such calculator is right here: Travel Matters.org. My monthly emissions will mount up to a depressing 423 pounds in June, and I am someone who works out of a home office and doesn’t need to commute!

The exercise to expose my own contribution to air pollution has resulted in my looking at the possibility of buying a hybrid car. The last thing I want to do is anything that contributes to harming our beautiful planet. A well designed hybrid can reduce smog pollution by 90 percent, and a typical hybrid might travel 50-60 miles per gallon in city driving because they run off a rechargeable battery and gasoline, rather than just gasoline! Gas prices of $2.35 a gallon makes me take another look at hybrids, too.

Like many of us, however, I have more criteria for buying a car than gas and emissions. How safe are they? What are they like in the snow? How practical? I did some investigating, and this is what I found:

For a more technical overview
about how hybrid cars work, read Care2’s Fact Sheet: What’s a Hybrid Car?.

Because hybrids are so small, I had mistakenly assumed that I would exchange safety for good gas mileage. Fortunately, that is not the case. (It is also not the case that hybrids are smaller than their non-hybrid brand name counterparts, but if you are used to bigger cars, the hybrids look small.)

Crash Test Results – New Car Assessment Program(NCAP)
Crash tests are designed by the New Car Assessment Program, by the U.S. government. The crash tests scores for car safety are given as a number of stars, 5 stars being the best safety record, and 1 star the worst.

5 stars = 10% or less chance of serious injury
4 stars = 11% to 20% chance of serious injury
3 stars = 21% to 35% chance of serious injury
2 stars = 36% to 45% chance of serious injury
1 star = 46% or greater chance of serious injury

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
This nonprofit research and communications organization is funded by auto insurers. They rate results of areas of car safety concern in Good, Acceptable, Marginal, Poor.

Honda Civic Hybrid Safety Ratings
Not available

Honda Insight Safety Ratings
NCAP: 5 Stars All Areas – Frontal Star Rating, Side Star Rating, Rollover
IIHS: Good in all areas.

Toyota Prius Safety Ratings
NCAP: 5 Stars All Areas – Frontal Star Rating, Side Star Rating, Rollover
IIHS: Not available.

Ford Escape SUV Safety Ratings
NCAP: 5 Star Frontal Rating, 5 Star With Side Bags, No Rollover results
IIHS Highway Safety Tests:Overall frontal: Acceptable. Overall side Poor

For those of us who live in the north, having all wheel drive makes a difference in how safe you are on the roads. So far none of the hybrids have all wheel drive, but at least one is on the horizon.

Honda Insight: Front wheel drive.
Toyota Prius: Front wheel drive.
Ford Escape: Front wheel drive.

Coming from Toyota: All wheel drive hybrid.

In California there is a six to seven month wait for the Toyota Prius, and that leaps to a 2 year wait in New York. It is unclear how long of a wait it will be before Toyota’s all wheel drive hybrid will be available. The Honda hybrids are available now. The Ford Escape is being built this summer.


As a rule of thumb, hybrids cost about $2-3,000 more than conventional counterparts. At least one of the new models is no more costly than its similarly sized, gasoline-powered counterpart.

The IRS has decided that hybrid vehicles qualify for a one-time “Clean Fuels” tax deduction of up to $1,500.

The Prius, redesigned for 2004, offers roughly the same interior space as Toyota’s Camry. Expressions of satisfaction with the sense of roominess in many hybrids is expressed by a number of posts I read around the internet about the hybrid’s size, and the Prius hatchback allows for a lot of baggage space.

The investigation I did into hybrids helped me make my plans. My priorities in a car are that it is safe and that it has all wheel drive (I live in snow and ice country with a very steep driveway). I am seriously considering getting on a waiting list for Toyota’s all wheel drive hybrid. It would meet all my needs, including to reduce my impact on the earth!

For more general information about hybrids, see Hybrid Cars: What Are They and What Do They Offer?.

Alternatively, there is the option of buying a diesel engine car and a conversion kit to run it on vegetable oil fuels (an extra $1,000). But more about that in another article. If you are interested now, visit Grease Car!.

By Annie B. Bond


Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeron5 years ago

Want a hybrid engine for a VW "hippie" microbus van. They came out with VW van but I don't like the style, I want it to look like the old hippie looking ones, not the a mini-van looking thing (that is what I saw every time i tried to find a pic of the new one.). Plus I do not having the money for a hybrid even if it looked how i wanted it too.

So for me it is the biking, the bus on days I cannot bike and getting rides from other people (friends and friends of friends) heading in the same direction as I when I go out of town

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Oh, how I wish I could afford one - especially as my car's engine blew up today!

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dave C.
David C5 years ago

I've had a hybrid 6 years, and was surprised to find this article was originally posted in 2002 .....how about a 10 YEAR update????

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B6 years ago

thanks for the info

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jack S.
Jack S.6 years ago

Hybrid car makers should come up with all wheel drives. Because it is the ideal for all parts of the world. When you go for a car you always looks for safety and car that able to move on everywhere. Used trucks for sale

Alviro S.
Alviro S.6 years ago

Hybrid cars is expensive, but in hybrid cars have lots of advantage. Its provided better mileage as well as hybrid cars is zero emission cars. Used cars for sale

Bon L.
Bon L7 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Kristain Musni
Past Member 7 years ago

Hybrid Cars having amazing features. A hybrid car, also known as a hybrid electric vehicle or hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is a car that was powered by two sources, an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. http://www.greenautozone.net/