Decision Points: Hybrid Cars vs. Traditional Gas Cars

With the price of gas remaining high and growing environmental concerns, many consumers are considering adding a hybrid to their driveway.

With electric motors and internal combustion engines, hybrid electric vehicles have been heralded by environmentalists as a simply way to reduce your carbon footprint. But, as with all major investments, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of buying a hybrid car.

Hybrid Car Pros

Hybrids are touted as burning less fossil fuel and emitting fewer gases. Jack Nerad, editorial director at Kelley Blue Book and author of The Idiot's Guide to Hybrid and Alternative Fuel Vehicles, explains, "Hybrid cars offer superior fuel economy versus traditional gasoline-powered cars of the same size."

Joel Ohman, certified financial planner and founder of, explains that many insurance insurance companies offer immediate discounts simply for owning a hybrid car. "Some companies, most notably Travelers Insurance, even specifically target hybrid cars with a dedicated hybrid car insurance division."

When you drive your hybrid slowly or come to a stop, the gas engine does not run and eliminates engine overuse resulting in fewer trips to the mechanic for repairs. You will likely save money in maintenance.

If you live in an urban environment, with a lot of slow driving, you will benefit the most from hybrids, using the electric motor to its fullest.

Hybrids are also quieter than alternative vehicles, leading to more peaceful drives.

Hybrid Car Cons

Although hybrids offer superior fuel economy, they also cost significantly more than the traditional gas-powered vehicles of their size and class. If your sole incentive is to pay less in the long run, rather than the environmental perks, a hybrid might not be the choice for you.

"Depending upon the price of gasoline and the number of miles driven by the owner they [hybrids] might or might not provide an overall cost benefit to the buyer," Nerad says.

Kristin Brocoff, director of corporate communications for, reports that although hybrids do not fail very often, when they do fail, repairs can be expensive. "In this situation, it may make sense for those purchasing a hybrid to consider investing in an extended warranty if they plan to hold onto it past the manufacturer warranty."

Traditional Gas Car Pros

Conventional cars are simpler and cheaper. For this reason, they are the go-to choice for the majority of new car buyers. Thanks to improved technology, the overall fuel economy of gasoline-powered bars is getting closer to that of hybrids.

Traditional Gas Car Cons

Along with the safety concerns for the environment, some reports show that traditional gas cars are not as safe  for their occupants as their hybrid counterparts, according to a recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute.