Hybrid or Fuel Efficient? We Break Them Down

By Max Resnik

May 4, 2011 Updated May 4, 2011 at 6:34 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Car dealers across the nation are seeing a huge increase in the number of fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles being purchased as gas prices continue to soar.

What defines a car as “fuel efficient” and are hybrids any different? Today, Indiana’s NewsCenter breaks it down.

Here are the simple differences:

-Run on both gas and electric
-From 0 to 40mph, your hybrid runs on electricity
-From 0 to 40mph, there is no gearshift (less strain on the engine, which means better mileage)
-When you surpass 40mph, the gas motor takes over

Fuel Efficient Vehicles:
-Run on gas only
-Transmissions now come with higher gear sets; the greater the number of gears, the less strain is put on the engine, which saves on gas
-Most come with 4-cylinder engines and 6-speed automatic transmissions
-Typically average 35-40mpg Highway

Steve Mann with Dimension Ford in Fort Wayne says hybrids are better suited for congested, big city traffic. He says, “If 75-80% or more of your driving is taking place in the city, you're going to do a lot better with a hybrid because you're running on mostly electrical mode instead of gasoline mode."

Mann says the Fort Wayne market is better suited for fuel efficient vehicles as opposed to hybrids. Stop and go traffic is minimal and many workers use the interstate to get to and from work.

Do you feel like you have seen an increase in the number of small cars on the road? That’s probably because you have. In April, 223,000 small cars were sold, a 33% increase compared to April 2010. It’s the biggest increase in small car sales since 2008, which also happens to be the last time record gas prices were seen at the pump.

Before you hop into a smaller, fuel efficient vehicle or even a hybrid, Brian Vest with Dimension Ford says you need to know what you’re looking for.

He says, “People need to be mindful of what their utility is of the vehicle. If they're used to towing boats and going to the lake on weekends and loading up, a fuel efficient car may not be what's best for the use of their vehicle… I've seen people trade down out of a vehicle because of the gas price and then six months to a year later they’re back in because it doesn't fit their needs.”

Some other tips to save at the pump:
-Use your cruise control on the highway and set it at 65mph
-Don’t break too hard or accelerate too quickly
-Don’t idle for too long
-Use of the radio, heat and a/c adds to engine strain, which burns more gas
-Have your vehicle examined to make sure that it’s operating efficiently

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