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To Hybrid or Not to Hybrid

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Figuring out the best option for you and your family

Whether it arises out of concern about the environment, your wallet or both, you may find that you are strongly pulled toward buying a hybrid car. And with sites like FuelEconomy.gov estimating that drivers who travel at least 15,000 miles per year can save as much as $843 by driving a vehicle that gets just 10 more miles per gallon of fuel than their current vehicle, it's hard to overlook the many benefits of buying a hybrid. But is that really the only way to go?

Variety Is the Spice of Car Buying

A few years ago, consumers were very limited in their options for hybrid cars. Now there are compact hybrids, hybrid sport-utility vehicles, hybrid hatchbacks and more. Hybrid cars also have all the safety devices and technology options of other, nonhybrid cars. In addition to shape, size and style of car, you can also opt for many different power sources, such as plug-in hybrids, fully electric vehicles, and those that run on gasoline alternatives like ethanol and hydrogen.

But nonhybrid cars still come in more varieties than hybrids, and not every manufacturer makes a hybrid version of a car. So if you have your heart set on a certain vehicle, you may find that there is no hybrid alternative. And in some cases, simply buying a smaller car is enough to make the difference in fuel efficiency.

Are You Really Saving?

Hybrid car technology typically adds to the car's overall price, but not all the time. Consider, for example, the Buick LaCrosse eAssist, which features a hybrid power train that's priced exactly the same as the LaCrosse with the traditional gas-powered V-6 engine. However, if you are considering a small hybrid vehicle solely to save money on gas, you may find that the increased cost of the car and the loan interest on that difference may cost you more in the long run than simply buying an inexpensive nonhybrid model and buying more gas.

If gas prices go down, it's also possible that you won't realize as much in fuel savings as you had anticipated. Hybrid cars offer a tax incentive in the year of purchase, so it is important to factor that in as well.

Health Concerns

No matter where you stand on environmental issues, it's impossible to ignore the negative effects that oil spills and gas and particulate emissions can have on your health and the health of your family. Any steps you take to drive a cleaner car that uses less fuel will help to reduce these risks, although the reduction may be minimal.

If you aren't sure whether a hybrid car would be the best choice for you and your family, give us a call. We can discuss various tax benefits and lending options that may help put you in the fast lane toward the right vehicle.

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