Hybrids now come in various sizes, body styles and price points. However, it's important to note that not all hybrids are created equal. Just because it sports the 'H' word doesn't mean it gets the sort of fuel economy of a Toyota Prius. Be mindful of a car's EPA mileage estimates as well as the sort of attributes you'd consider when buying a regular car, such as passenger space, cargo room and value for your money. The type of driving you typically do should also determine whether a hybrid is right for you. Hybrids are typically most appropriate for a city environment where their electric motors can be best utilized.
There are also new plug-in hybrids: the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius PHV, but they were not tested in time to be considered for our 2011 Buying Guide voting.
When it comes down to searching for a hybrid, fuel-efficiency is king. So it's probably no surprise that the king of hybrids, the Toyota Prius, comes in as one of our top-rated hybrids. The Prius catches some flak sometimes, but that's often what happens when you're in the No. 1 position. The reality is that the Prius just gets so much right. Beyond its EPA-estimated 51 city/48 highway mpg fuel economy, the Prius is also roomy, quiet, practical and, yes, pretty reasonably priced.
If the Prius doesn't float your green-car boat, however, there are other choices. Of the hybrid-powered family sedans available for 2011, our favorite is the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Just as with the regular Fusion, it has a great interior, respectable driving dynamics and lots of useful high-tech electronic features. It also boasts fuel economy that's significantly higher than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Two other hybrid family sedans worth mentioning are the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Kia Optima Hybrid; these two related models are all-new and promise to provide very good fuel economy on top of their stylish designs.
For a luxury hybrid sedan, the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid is a top pick; on top of the excellence provided by the regular S-Class, the S400 Hybrid utilizes a mild hybrid design to boost fuel economy to a respectable 19/25 mpg while being much cheaper than other luxury hybrids.
Finally, most hybrid shoppers should also check out the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The first is a highly advanced gasoline-electric hybrid while the second is a 100 percent electric car. Though neither car was available to test at the time of our Buying Guide voting, they obviously have plenty of promise as green cars.