One problem with hybrid and electric vehicles has been the premium consumers have to pay over comparable gas vehicles. Everyone loves getting over 40 miles to the gallon, but few are willing to pay thousands more upfront to get inside such a car, even if the total cost of ownership ends up being lower. (People buy incandescent light bulbs rather than fluorescent ones for the same reason.)
The decision is much easier in the 2016 model year. Whether automakers have lowered prices to compensate for cheap gasoline or simply figured out how to build the cars for less money, there are multiple hybrids on the market that cost less than $25,000, and that’s before you count the summer offers dealers tend to dangle when the weather gets warm.
Meanwhile, cheap gas isn’t so cheap anymore. California drivers were paying close to $3 per gallon in late June, which makes the hybrid equation much more attractive when you have to tackle the freeway and a slew of traffic jams during your daily commute.
If MSRP is the most important factor in your purchase decision, you have options. Here are the five cheapest hybrid cars available in 2016. Only cars of the 2016 model year were considered.
6. Kia Optima Hybrid
No one can complain about a dull eco-car vibe in the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid. This economical variant of the popular midsize sedan looks exactly like its gasoline sibling while getting 37 combined miles per gallon. Compared to the standard model’s 28 miles per gallon, the choice is an easy one. Hybrid editions of the Optima run consumers $25,995 before any dealer incentives.
5. Ford Fusion Hybrid
Consumers love the exterior of the Ford Fusion, and there is no style compromise when choosing the base hybrid model ($25,185). However, the boost in fuel economy is huge. Compared to 26 miles per gallon in the Fusion S, the Hybrid S gets 43 miles per gallon combined (44 on the highway). With Ford’s incentives on the 2016 Fusion Hybrid and Energi plug-in models, the base price in this model actually dropped below $20,000 toward the end of June.
4. Toyota Prius Two
The redesigned Toyota Prius is once again the king of fuel economy with the base Two offering 52 miles per gallon combined. Prius drivers are basically strangers at gas stations, and at the base price of $24,200 there is not much of a markup over the average midsize sedan. For the best economy of any non-electric car, Prius Two Eco ($24,700) is the way to go. It offers 56 miles per gallon combined at a premium of a few hundred dollars.
3. Ford C-MAX
Ford C-MAX is the hybrid of choice for many New York City cab drivers because of its exceptional economy (40 miles per gallon combined) and easy cargo storage courtesy of the hatchback design. The 2016 model won’t do much damage to most car budgets, either, with an MSRP of $24,170. Dealer incentives in summer 2016 were bringing this price down to $20,045, which made it one of the cheapest hybrid cars available.
2. Honda CR-Z
The Honda CR-Z coupe is certainly an odd entry, but it is available in the 2016 model year and averages about 200 sales a month. (This list is the cheapest, not the most popular, we remind you.) Capable of 39 miles per gallon on the highway, customers who buy into the sporty styling and tiny dimensions can have themselves a ride for $20,295. We admit this formula has not worked for many Americans thus far.
1. Toyota Prius C
There are many versions of the Prius for U.S. consumers who need superior fuel economy. Topping the list are Prius Two and Four, the standard-size models with available interior and tech upgrades. Then there is Prius V ($26,675), the largest of the bunch with the feel of a midsize sedan. However, the smallest and cheapest of the bunch is Prius C, a compact model capable of 50 miles per gallon combined. Consumers can pick one up for an MSRP of $19,560.