What is a Hybrid Car?

A hybrid car is a vehicle that uses a combination of at least two different fuel sources for its propulsion. Although many combinations are possible, generally when people are talking about hybrid cars, they are referring to cars with a combination of

  • a gasoline internal combustion engine
  • an electric motor
  • a battery that powers the electric motor and stores energy for future use.

Hybrid cars may also be called gas-electric hybrids.
Some examples of current hybrid cars include the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid (HCH), and the Honda Insight.

Due to their special use of technology, hybrid cars receive much higher gas mileage than the average U.S. vehicle. In fact, hybrid cars hold the top spots for fuel economy in their respective categories: two-seaters, compact cars and mid size cars.

Do Hybrids Actually Meet EPA Gas Mileage Estimates?

This is an often-debated topic. There are owners that meet or beat the EPA’s estimates on a regular basis, while others are below the estimates. Because there are so many factors that go into achieving gas mileage, such as driving conditions, terrain, and driver’s habits, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what an individual will be able to achieve. Either way, though, it is clear that there is a big difference in gas mileage when driving 80 mph instead of the posted speed of 55 mph.

Hybrid car owners are even more aware of this since hybrid cars have gauges/readouts that show the fuel economy in real time. What drivers choose to do with the information is a personal decision.

There are independent web sites where owners report their actual gas mileage. These can give you some idea of what owners are achieving in the real world.