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Hybrids Gaining Traction Among Car Buyers

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Fuel economy tops the list of things people look for in a new car, and it can be even more of a determining factor when purchasing or leasing your next ride. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following "Money Matters" report.

Bye bye gas guzzlers. From hybrids to hydrogen, fuel efficiency was the focus of a recent discussion hosted by Consumer Reports.

"Two thirds of car buyers say they expect their next model to have better fuel economy than their current one. So consumers are looking for fuel efficient vehicles," says Jim Guest, president and CEO of Consumer Reports.

The good news is, you don't have to look too hard.

"There's lots of different choices that people can buy that give them fuel efficient options, whether you want a pickup truck or a convertible or you know an SUV, you can find something that will meet that need," explains Eric Evarts, senior associate auto editor for Consumer Reports.

Hybrids, once a novelty, are now more common and have been commanding a big spot in the market.

"About 16 percent of our sales of Lexus and Toyota are hybrid models so they are definitely mainstream," says Wade Hoyt of Toyota, Lexus and Scion.

While these vehicles tend to cost a little more, Chris Naughton, the northeast regional manager for Honda and Acura media relations, says, "They always cost more, a bit more because you have essentially two power trains in the car."

However, the premium isn't so high that it puts the vehicles out of reach.

"A standard hybrid you're looking at maybe $1,500 to $3,000 over something else that's comparable in its class. And you can get, depending on the hybrid, you can get a little bit more mileage to really stunning mileage," says Evarts.

Not that fuel efficiency is or should be the only concern. There's also resale value, another area hybrids tend to handle very well.

"People are interested in fuel economy, and that's true for used car buyers too. And so most hybrids have pretty low depreciation. If you take that into effect, it doesn't cost you any money if you turn around and sell the car in a year for some models," notes Evarts.

When it comes to hybrids, city drivers are likely to see the best results in terms of fuel economy, but experts say for drivers who regularly go a distance, don't rule out a diesel.

"For people who have long highway commutes, diesels are the perfect vehicles. We're seeing some of these that are getting 45, 47 miles per gallon on the highway," says Evarts.

Of course, you may opt to pull the plug on pumping altogether. In our next report, we'll look at the costs associated with electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

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