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The Hybrid Timeline has been retired!

While still available below, the Hybrid Timeline is no longer updated. Why? Hybrids are now enormously popular, with dozens of models on the market, and more released every year. This is great news for reducing oil use and protecting public health, the environment, and the economy—but keeping our resources updated is a challenge.

For more up-to-date material, check out our blog, explore our electric vehicle timeline, or learn how clean cars can help cut projected US. oil use in half by 2035.

1997 - 2003  |  2004 - 2007  |  2008 - 2012  |  "Hollow Hybrids"

1997    
1997 Toyota Prius (5 seat compact)
 
  • Toyota launches world’s first mass-production hybrid vehicle, in Japan
  • 37,000 sold in Japan before U.S. introduction in 2000.
1999  
2000 Honda Insight (2 seater)  
 
  • EPA Estimated MPG: 53 (manual), 47 (auto)
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 2 (manual), 6 (auto)
  • Honda releases the first hybrid vehicle available in the United States.
  • Ended production in September 2006.
2000  
2001 Toyota Prius (5 seat compact)
 
  • EPA Estimated MPG: 41
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 3
  • After selling 37,000 units in Japan, Toyota launches the Prius in the U.S.
  • Limits availability to 12,000 vehicles a year in U.S. Ends production in 2003, when it is replaced by the Gen. 2 Prius.
2002  
2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (5 seat compact) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 41 (lean-burn), 40 (CA-emissions)
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 3 (lean-burn), 9 (CA-emissions)
  • The Civic Hybrid uses lean-burn engine technology for models outside of California to boost fuel economy. However, this technology also increases smog-forming emissions.
2003  
2004 Toyota Prius (5 seat midsize) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 46
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 8
  • The first hybrid midsize car, the second generation Prius was named 2004 Car of the Year by Motor Trend
  • Over 700,000 were sold in the U.S.
  • Ends production in 2009, when it is replaced by the Gen. 3 Prius.
2004   
2005 Ford Escape Hybrid (5 seat compact SUV) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-6.5-7.0; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 29-32
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 9
  • The Escape Hybrid is the first hybrid SUV and the first American-made hybrid. The Front Wheel Drive (FWD) version achieves a 28 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional FWD Escape. This reduction is lower than the 32 percent reduction of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, but is enough to make the Ford Escape Hybrid FWD the most efficient compact SUV on the market. The Ford Escape Hybrid will be discontinued in 2013 and replaced by a conventional gas-powered Ford Escape with a 1.6-liter “EcoBoost” engine expected to get better highway fuel economy than the current Escape Hybrid.
2005 Honda Accord Hybrid (5 seat sedan) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 27
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 9
  • The Accord sedan is the first mainstream use of hybrid technology to gain "muscle hybrid" status, boosting performance more than fuel economy. 
  • Honda discontinues the Accord Hybrid after the 2007 model year, citing poor sales..
2005  
2006 Lexus RX 400h (5 seat midsize SUV) 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 26-27
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 8
  • Toyota brings hybrid technology to the luxury and midsize SUV market, but with a total power output of an excessive 268 hp, the RX 400h falls into the “muscle hybrid” category. Replaced by more efficient RX 450h in 2010.
2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (7 seat midsize SUV) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-7.1; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 28
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 8
  • With a 32 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Highlander, the Highlander Hybrid is not only a class leader, but trails only the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Lexus CT 200h, and Ford Fusion Hybrid for greatest global warming emissions reduction among all hybrids. This impressive performance does come with a caveat, however. While the closest conventional counterpart for the Highlander Hybrid 4WD is a six-cylinder gasoline engine, the conventional Highlander is available in a four-cylinder variety.
2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid (5 seat compact SUV) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 27-32
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 7
  • Ford’s “Tricked Out” version of the Escape Hybrid gets limited 2,000-car production in ‘05. In 2006, production is increased, and a more fuel efficient FWD version is offered.
  • Production discontinued in 2011. 
2006 Civic Hybrid (5 seat compact) 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Score-7.2; Hybrid Value-Very Good; Forced Features-$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 41
  • EPA Smog Score (10 best): 9
  • Significantly redesigned in 2006, the new Civic Hybrid boosts mileage and reduces emissions while providing more “pep.” The 2011 Civic Hybrid obtains a 29 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Civic—a solid overall performance, though numerous other vehicles (including the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid) have now passed the 30 percent improvement mark. Its overall fuel economy matches the Honda Insight, and its relative reduction of global warming emissions are greater than the two-seat Honda CR-Z.
2006  
2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid (5 seat midsize) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-6.1; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-$
  • Est. Combined MPG: 33
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • The Camry Hybrid is the first Toyota hybrid to be built in America (Kentucky). In 2009, the Camry Hybrid achieved a 27 percent reduction in global warming emissions (compared with the conventional Camry); in 2011, the reduction dropped to 21 percent. While still ahead of the Nissan Altima Hybrid’s 18 percent reduction, the Camry Hybrid trails both the Ford Fusion Hybrid (33 percent) and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (30 percent) by an increasingly significant margin.
2007 Lexus GS 450h (5 seat luxury sedan) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Env. Score-4.5; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-$
  • Est. Combined MPG: 23
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Compared with the GS 460, the 2011 GS 450h achieves only a 13 percent reduction in global warming emissions, despite downsizing from a 4.6-liter V8 engine to a 3.5-liter V6 engine. This is less than half the global warming emissions improvement than that of its cousin, the Lexus HS 250h (over its own conventional counterpart), and half that of its more direct competitor, the Infiniti M Hybrid.
2007  
2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid (5 seat midsize) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-5.7; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-$$
  • Est. Combined MPG: 33
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Nissan enters the hybrid market with the Altima Hybrid. Using Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, the 2011 model obtains an 18 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Altima.  The Altima Hybrid falls short of the reduction achieved by many of its peers, including the Toyota Camry Hybrid (21 percent). While the Altima Hybrid was near the top of the non-luxury sedan class when it was first released, the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid have since surpassed the Altima Hybrid’s performance by achieving global warming reductions of 30 percent or more.
2008 Lexus LS 600h L (5 seat luxury sedan) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-4.1; Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • Est. Combined MPG: 20
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • In contrast to the rest of the hybrid vehicles in the Lexus fleet, which achieve Hybrid Value ratings ranging from “Good” to “Superior,” the 2011 LS 600h L has far and away the lowest Hybrid Value rating of all hybrid models on the scorecard—“Very Poor.” In fact, a customer could purchase the conventional LS 460 AWD and use the nearly $32,000 hybrid technology premium for the LS 600h L to buy a Lexus CT 200h. This exorbitant cost is further exacerbated by the LS 600h L’s meager 10 percent global warming emission reductions. Even in this high-end vehicle, this kind of cost differential helps to perpetuate the stereotype that hybrid technology is cost-prohibitive.
2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid (8 seat full-size SUV) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-4.3; Hybrid Value-Poor; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 6
  • The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is the first full-size SUV hybrid on the market and the first vehicle of any kind to use GM’s two-mode hybrid system. Although the conventional Chevy Tahoe 2WD saw a small improvement in fuel efficiency over 2010, the 2011 Tahoe Hybrid remained constant at 21 mpg. As a result, the 2011 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid 2WD achieved a lower global warming emissions reduction (19 percent). The Tahoe’s impressive two-mode, full-hybrid drivetrain could have been used to bring far more to the table. Instead, GM failed to fully capitalize on hybrid technology and used an upsized 6.0-liter V8 engine. 
2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid (8 seat full-size SUV) 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-4.3; Hybrid Value-Poor; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 6
  • Like most vehicle “twins,” the GMC Yukon Hybrid is nearly identical to the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. While the conventional model of the GM Yukon 2WD actually saw a small improvement in fuel efficiency over 2010, the Yukon Hybrid 2WD remained constant at 21 mpg. As a result, the 2011 Yukon Hybrid 2WD achieved a lower global warming emissions reduction (19 percent). The Yukon Hybrid 2WD’s impressive two-mode, full hybrid drivetrain could have been used to bring far more to the table as the first full-sized hybrid SUV. Instead, GM failed to fully capitalize on hybrid technology and used an upsized 6.0-liter V8 engine. 

2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid (5 seat compact SUV) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Env. Score-7.4; Hybrid Value: Medium-Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 28-32
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 7
  • Tribute is based on Ford Escape Hybrid drivetrain. Includes a built-in tire pressure monitor.
  • Production discontinued in 2011.
2008   
2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid (8 seat full-size SUV) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • Employing GM’s two-mode system, the short-lived Dodge Durango Hybrid used a muscular 5.7 L V8 Hemi. 
  • Production of the Durango Hybrid and its sister model, the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, was discontinued after only two-months of full-scale production. 
2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid (8 seat full-size SUV) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • Virtually identical to the Dodge Durango Hybrid, the marginally more expensive Chrysler Aspen Hybrid met the same unfortunate end as the Durango. As models that compromised the efficiency of the two-mode system with massive engines, they became the first green(ish) vehicle casualties of the plummeting fortunes of U.S. automakers.
  • Production discontinued in 2010.
2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid (8 seat full-size SUV) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-5.0-5.6; Hybrid Value-Very Good; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • The luxury SUV Escalade incorporates GM’s two-mode hybrid system. A bright spot for the Escalade Hybrid is that in 2011 Cadillac is charging a modest $3,170 for the hybrid system, which is significantly less than those in many other hybrid SUVs. Despite its poor smog-forming emissions performance (which significantly lowered its Environmental Improvement Score), the 29 percent reduction in global warming emissions puts the Escalade Hybrid 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) in the “Very Good” range for Hybrid Value, the only SUV to achieve that ranking. Unfortunately, bloated "forced features" make the premium for the vehicle very steep.
2009  
2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid (full-size pickup) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-3.7-4.3; Hybrid Value-Very Poor-Good; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • GM is charging $4,389 for the hybrid system in the 2011 Silverado Hybrid 4 Wheel Drive (4WD). With a 19 percent reduction in global warming emissions, this gives the Silverado Hybrid 4WD a Hybrid Value rating in the lower-end of the “Good” range. It outperforms the 2WD Silverado Hybrid, which merits a "Very Poor" on value, because of the 4WD's lower hybrid technology cost and slightly better global warming emissions reductions.
2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid (full-size pickup) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Score-3.7-4.3; Hybrid Value-Poor; Forced Features-$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • A virtual twin of the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, the 2011 GMC Sierra Hybrid 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) merits a 19 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Sierra 4WD.  This puts Sierra Hybrid 4WD is toward the bottom of the overall hybrid pack. The Sierra Hybrid 4WD does, however, achieve the same fuel efficiency as the Sierra Hybrid 2WD.
2010  
 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid (5 seat midsize SUV)
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  22
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  8
  • Employing the two-mode system developed in partnership with BMW and GM, Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid has a 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and two electric motors. Mercedes is using a battery pack almost one and a half times as large as GM’s various Two-Mode hybrids. The all-wheel drive ML450 Hybrid is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine and two electric motors, giving it a total system output of 335 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. It was built at Mercedes-Benz's Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant solely for North American consumption, but was discontinued in 2011.
2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid (5 seat luxury sedan) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-5.2; Hybrid Value-Superior; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  9
  • The S400 Hybrid gains a 14 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional S550 . The low smog-forming emissions of the S400 Hybrid results in an EPA air pollution score of 9 out of 10. One might expect a greater reduction in global warming emissions given that Mercedes-Benz downsized to a V6 engine, resulting in a vehicle that has about 30 percent less horsepower than the V8 engine in the S550. Yet, the Infiniti M Hybrid achieves a 28 percent reduction in global warming emissions without engine downsizing.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid (5 seat midsize car) 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-7.8; Hybrid Value-Very Good; Forced Features-$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 39
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 9
  • The 2011 Fusion shows marked improvements to the Ford hybrid drivetrain, with the ability to reach 47 mph in pure electric mode, and a more seamless shift from using electric to gasoline engine power. The fuel economy compares favorably to the Camry Hybrid. The redesigned 2013 version will feature a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder Atkinson engine paired with a lithium ion battery pack and have the ability to be driven on electricity-only at speeds up to 62 mph, achieving an estimated 47 mpg city and 44 highway.  It is expected to be available by the fall of 2012.
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid (5 seat midsize car) 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 39
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 8
  • Offering the same mechanical package as the Ford Fusion in a different body, the Mercury Milan is the luxury sedan version of this car, similar to the Escape/Mariner Hybrid split.
  • Production discontinued in 2011.
2010 Honda Insight (5 seat compact car) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-6.5; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 41
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 9
  • Undercutting the Prius in price, the totally redesigned Honda Insight provides the only under hybrid option currently on the market for under $20,000.  Improvements to the Insight’s mild hybrid drivetrain keep this 5-seat version over 40mpg, but the Civic Hybrid and Prius still top it for fuel economy, and both have significantly more passenger room. Honda has retooled the Model Year 2012 Insight to improve its efficiency and reduce emissions. Debuting at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, Honda claims it has reduced CO2 emissions from the previous model's 108 g/km to a claimed 96, a 12.5 percent improvement.  This would put it under the 99 g/km threshold to qualify for European tax exemptions.  Undoubtedly the same model will also come to the US market.
2010 Toyota Prius (5 seat midsize car) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-9.2; Hybrid Value-Very Good; Forced Features-None 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 50
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  8
  • Equipped with new features, the 2010 Prius achieves the highest fuel economy of any car currently on the U.S. market.  The new model is bigger, more powerful and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor.
2010 Lexus RX 450h (5 seat midsize SUV) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-9.2; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-$ 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 29-30
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  8
  • Lexus introduced the RX 450h in model year 2010, replacing its first hybrid SUV, the RX 400h. The front-wheel-drive (FWD) version of this midsize SUV seats five people and gets a combined EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon (mpg), the first midsize SUV to reach that mark. The RX 450h FWD utilizes a more efficient Atkinson combustion cycle in its gasoline engine, which, combined with a hybrid drivetrain, gives it significant global warming emissions reductions.
2010 Lexus HS 250h (5 seat luxury sedan) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-7.0; Hybrid Value-Very Good; Forced Features-None 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  35
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  8
  • The HS 250h was a pioneer in choosing to downsize the gasoline engine to provide an efficiency and emissions-focused hybrid option in the luxury class. With a 31 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the IS 250, the HS 250h is in the top tier of hybrids for emissions performance The use of a more efficient gasoline engine with the hybrid system provides comparable acceleration performance to the IS 250 (rather than boost acceleration, as is the case with some hybrids) and allows Lexus to achieve a strong environmental performance with the HS 250h. 
2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 (5 seat SUV)
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-3.2; Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  18
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • Compared with the X6 50i, the 2011 ActiveHybrid X6 achieves just an 11 percent reduction in global warming emissions. This pales in comparison to the Lexus RX 450h AWD, which achieves a 31 percent reduction in carbon  emissions and an EPA estimated 29 mpg. The ActiveHybrid X6 Hybrid earns an EPA air pollution score of just 6 for smog-forming emissions, whereas the Lexus 450h AWD hybrid merits an impressive 9. These factors combined give the ActiveHybrid X6 an Environmental Improvement Score of 3.2, ahead of only the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid at the bottom of this category. BMW decided to discontinue production of the ActiveHybrid X6 in 2011.
2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (5-seat luxury sedan) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-9.5; Hybrid Value-Superior; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  39
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  9
  • For those looking for a luxury sedan, it is hard to ignore the MKZ Hybrid’s 46 percent reduction in global warming emissions over the conventional MKZ. Indeed, many consumers have already noticed this as sales of the MKZ Hybrid have to date exceeded Ford’s own projections. The Lexus HS 250h and Infiniti M Hybrid are next best in the luxury hybrid field, with 31 and 28 percent reductions, respectively.
Dodge Ram Hybrid (Full-size pickup) 
  • Est. release date: Cancelled
  • What we know: The Dodge Ram Hybrid was supposed to enter the market in 2010 with the same two-mode technology as the Durango and Aspen hybrids. Using a 5.7-liter Hemi V8, the two-mode system will increase overall fuel economy by approximately 25 percent.  But citing slow sales of Silverado Hybrids, Chrysler executives decided to pull the plug on production in March 2010. Chrysler will still use the Two Mode hybrid transmission to develop a test group of plug-in hybrid electric Rams as part of a $48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
2011  
2011 Chevrolet Volt (4 seat midsize) 
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: Electric Only-93mpg equiv. -- Gasoline Only-36
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • Indicating an entirely new direction for GM, the Chevrolet Volt introduced the first plug-in hybrid vehicle on the U.S. market. GM says Volt can run on electric power alone for 40 miles, though in reality the range seems more in the 25-30 mile range on average. When the battery has less than 30 percent of its charge remaining, the engine will turn on to charge the battery and extend the range of the Volt up to 640 miles. To charge, the Volt can be plugged into a 240-volt outlet for a full charge in less than three hours.
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (5 seat midsize) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-6.8; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  37
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  9
  • The Sonata Hybrid’s 37 mpg translates to a 30 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Sonata. This solid overall performance tops the reductions of the 33 mpg Toyota Camry Hybrid (21 percent) and is within range of the 39 mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid (33 percent). Hyundai uses lithium polymer batteries, which Hyundai claims are more durable and space-efficient than both nickel-hydride and lithium-ion batteries. Hyundai’s hybrid system will be used in more of its cars, including a plug-in hybrid that is projected for a 2012 release. The plug-in hybrid will be based on the Blue-Will concept car.
2011 Honda CR-Z (2 seater)
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-6.2; Hybrid Value-Very Good; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  37
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  9
  • The CR-Z, which stands for Compact Renaissance Zero, made its debut at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show as a sporty hybrid concept that is fun to drive. The CR-Z achieves a 22 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the Civic Coupe. This amounts to an 8 mpg bump in overall fuel economy. Among other conventional rivals, the sporty Mini Cooper gets an EPA estimated 32 mpg, and the Smart ForTwo Coupe rates 36 mpg.  It goes from 0-60 mph in around 10 seconds.  For those looking for a little more power, reports have said that Honda is working on a high-performance CR-Z Type R for 2012 release. Honda is looking to increase the current CR-Z’s 113-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder up to 150 horsepower and replace the 14-horsepower electric motor with a larger 50-horsepower unit for a combined output of 200 horsepower for the Type R.
2011 Lexus CT 200h (5 seat hatchback)
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-8.6; Hybrid Value-Superior; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  42
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  8
  • With a 43 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the IS 250, the CT 200h is in the top tier of hybrids in this regard, finishing just behind the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (which achieved a 46 percent reduction over the conventional MKZ) and Toyota Prius.  This vehicle marks Lexus' return to hatchbacks, and another dedicated hybrid for the Lexus brand.
2011 VW Touareg Hybrid (5 seat midsize SUV) 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Score-3.0; Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • At 21 mpg, the Touareg Hybrid gets a measly 2 mpg improvement over the conventional model. The Touareg Hybrid’s 10 percent reduction in global warming pollution is the smallest of any model on the UCS Hybrid Scorecard, even smaller than that of its luxury twin, the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid.
2011 Infiniti M Hybrid (5 seat luxury sedan) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-5.5; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-None 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  29
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • Though the M Hybrid is a “muscle” hybrid, it achieves a greater reduction in global warming emissions than some other luxury muscle hybrids. For example, the M Hybrid achieves more than double the emissions reduction improvement of the Lexus GS 450h (13 percent), the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid (10 percent), and the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 (11 percent). Unfortunately, a poorly performing tailpipe emissions-control system severely compromises the smog-forming emissions performance of the Infiniti M Hybrid, earning it an EPA air pollution score of 6. This score, the lowest given to any hybrid, is surprising given the Nissan Altima Hybrid rates a 9.
2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid (5 seat midsize SUV)
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-3.7; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-None 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  21
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • The Cayenne S Hybrid achieves only 14 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Cayenne S, among the lowest reductions of all models on the Scorecard. In comparison, the Lexus RX 450h AWD manages to accomplish a 31 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with its conventional counterpart. By sacrificing efficiency for acceleration, the Cayenne S is clearly a “muscle” hybrid.
2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 750i (5 seat luxury sedan) 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-3.7; Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  20
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  6
  • Compared with the conventional 750i, the ActiveHybrid 750i achieves only a 15 percent reduction in global warming emissions—less than half the reduction achieved by the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and Lexus HS 250h (against  their conventional counterparts), but slightly higher than the 2011 Mercedes S400 and the Lexus LS 600h L. The smog-forming emissions performance of the ActiveHybrid 750i, however, falls far short of its competitors. While the S400 and MKZ Hybrid earn an EPA air pollution score of 9 out of 10, and the HS 250h and LS 600h score an 8, the ActiveHybrid 750i earns a score of only 6.
2012  
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid (5 seat compact)
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  44
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  9
  • Honda hopes a shift to lithium ion batteries will allow their hybrid technology to improve overall fuel economy at a lower price, better enabling the Civic Hybrid to compete non only with other hybrids, but with conventional vehicles as well.  The MSRP for the Civic Hybrid is just over $24,000, similar to the Prius and only $100 more than the previous generation, while boosting its fuel economy from 40mpg to 44. 
2012 Kia Optima Hybrid  (5 seat sedan)
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  37
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  8
  • The 2011 Optima shares the Hyundai Sonata’s platform, and likely its 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine. It therefore shares the same 40-hp (30 kW) electric motor as the Sonata Hybrid. The Optima Hybrid began limited availability in the summer of 2011 with wider distribution expect in the fall.
2012 Buick Regal eAssist: (5 seat midsize sedan)
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  29
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best):  5-9 depending on region
  • Buick has increased its line of its eAssist mild hybrids with a Regal model following the LaCrosse. The eAssist mild hybrid system allows the gasoline engine to cut off in certain coasting or braking situations and (like all hybrids) employs regenerative braking technology and automatic shutoffs when idle. The Regal eAssist also comes with efficiency monitors that inform the driver about the most efficient settings for the car to increase gas mileage.  Unlike its larger LaCrosse cousin, the Regal comes in two varieties of four-cylinder conventional variants, the manual transmission getting 24mpg, and the automatic getting 22 mpg. The $29,530 MSRP is $2,000 more than base 2.4 liter model. Buick has announced that eAssist will become the standard drive train in 2013, eliminating the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine.
2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist (5 seat luxury sedan)
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG:  29
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 5 to 9 depending on region
  • GM is using its retooled mild hybrid drivetrain (seen in its original form in the “Hollow Hybrid” Saturn Vue Hybrid and Chevy Malibu Hybrid) in its luxury sedan. Interestingly enough, it is not being called a “hybrid” but instead Buick is calling it “eAssist.” The new mild-hybrid drivetrain is significantly more powerful than the original, using a lithium-ion battery to power the electric motor. The eAssist drivetrain is standard on the 2.4-liter 4 cylinder version of the 2012 LaCrosse—the only other engine offered is a far more powerful 303-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 that gets an EPA-estimated 21mpg.
2012 Toyota Prius v: (5 seat crossover)
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 42
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 9
  • This larger cousin of the ubiquitous Prius, along with the compact Prius c together form the newly-expanded Prius family. The new model has 60 percent more cargo space due to an extended roofline design. Built on the same platform as the current Prius midsize with the same hybrid drivetrain, this vehicle will get a combined 42 mpg. A version of this vehicle, the Prius+, will launch in Europe and has already launched in Japan as the Prius Alpha. This version will have a third row of seating and lithium-ion batteries, but only the five-passenger version will be available in the United States.
2012 Honda Insight (5 seat compact car) 
 
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Environmental Improvement Score-6.5; Hybrid Value-Good; Forced Features-None 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 41
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 9
  • Undercutting the Prius in price, the totally redesigned Honda Insight provides the only other hybrid option currently on the market for under $20,000.  Improvements to the Insight’s mild hybrid drivetrain keep this 5-seat version over 40mpg, but the Civic Hybrid and Prius still top it for fuel economy, and both have significantly more passenger room. Honda has retooled the Model Year 2012 Insight, which debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show,  to improve its efficiency and reduce emissions. The same model is now available in the US with an EPA-estimated combined fuel efficiency of 43 mpg. Honda has made minor interior and exterior tweaks to achieve a 1 mile per gallon improvement on fuel economy. All trim levels received a new updated aerodynamic grill to achieve 1 more miles per gallon. The Insight also continues the tradition of utilizing an 88 horsepower, 1.3 liter, four cylinder engine mated to a 13 hp electric engine..
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid (5 seat midsize sedan)
 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 41
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): 9
  • The newly redesigned 2012 Camry Hybrid features a revised version of the brand’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, including a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves an EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 43 mpg. New fuel efficiency estimates represent a more-than-30 percent boost in fuel economy in the EPA city and combined driving cycles, compared to the previous generation. This improvement is due largely to the new hybrid powertrain, but also the lighter vehicle weight and optimized aerodynamics. This puts the Camry Hybrid back above all other midsize sedans for fuel economy.
2012 Toyota Prius c (5 seat compact) 
  • EPA Estimated Combined MPG: 50
  • EPA Smog Score (10=best): N/A
  • What we know: The Prius c, the smaller relative of the Prius, made its production debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The c employs a 1.5 liter 73 horsepower gasoline engine and an electric engine motor that generates 45 kW of electric energy. The c incorporates a unique design – larger all around than the Yaris – that houses the lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seats and employs a totally redesigned front end. The starting price for a 2012 Prius c is $18,950, about $5,000 less than the larger third-generation Prius.

 

Buyer Beware the Hollow Hybrids:

Some vehicles have been introduced or will be introduced to the market with the hybrid label, but really only use some conventional technology improvements to gain marginal fuel economy improvements. Such improvements would be laudable if introduced as standard options throughout a model fleet. But to make these improvements to only a small number of vehicles and use the "hybrid label" to gain a greener stature undermines the integrity of the hybrid market. We have labeled these vehicles as "hollow hybrids" and, as a "caveat emptor" for hybrid consumers, we list these models below

Conventional Vehicles profiting from the hybrid image

  • 2005-2008 GMC Sierra "hybrid" pickup
  • 2005 Dodge Ram "hybrid" diesel pickup
  • 2005-2008 Chevrolet Silverado "hybrid" pickup
  • 2007-2009 Saturn Green Line Vue SUV
  • 2007-2009 Saturn Green Line Aura sedan
  • 2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu "hybrid" sedan
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