Consider it a recovery from the devastating sequence of disasters in Japan last spring. Consider it a result of the renewed interest in hybrid vehicles following the spring’s spike in gas prices. Consider it a sign of whatever you want.
The fact is Toyota, always the leader in the long-term hybrid market, has surged in a big way. When automakers posted their monthly sales figures earlier this week, the Japanese automaker’s family of Prius hybrids commanded attention.
June sales ranked 340-percent higher year over year. There were 19,150 Prius’ sold during the month compared to 4,340 one year earlier.
Hybrid vehicles cost more than non-hybrids, but you may get some of that money back through Federal and or state tax credits. And you definitely get some of it back from improved fuel economy. But not all hybrids are super pricey.
Here’s a look at the best hybrid vehicles you can purchase for less than $25,000.
5. Honda CR-Z
MSRP: $19,695 - $21,255
Invoice: $18,763 - $20,243
Fuel economy: 31 city/37 highway
The CR-Z is powered by Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system, which is a combination of a 1.5-liter gas engine and a 13-horsepower electric motor, all attached to either a six-speed manual, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine and motor combined generate 122-hp and 128-lb.ft of torque.
Available in two trims, Base and EX, both include six airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry, a CD audio system with an auxiliary input and USB connection, alloy wheels and cruise control.
4. Honda Insight
MSRP: $18,500 - $21,965
Invoice: $17,629 - $20,917
Fuel economy: 41 city/44 highway
The Insight is also powered by Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system, which is a combination of a 1.3-liter gas engine and a 13-hp electric motor, all attached to a continuously variable transmission. The engine and motor combined generate 98-hp and 123-lb.ft of torque, and provide 40-plus mpg fuel economy.
The base trim offers six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry and a two-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary input. The LX trim adds floor mats, cruise control with steering wheel controls, a security system and a four-speaker CD audio system with USB interface.
3. Honda Civic Hybrid
Fuel economy: 44 city/44 highway
The fuel economy of the Civic Hybrid has been the subject of legal proceedings in the past, but Honda has won those challenges. The model has been completely redesigned for 2012.
To differentiate the hybrid model from the rest of the Civic line-up, features like automatic climate control, LED brake lights, turn signals in the exterior mirrors, a unique grille and hybrid specific screens in the i-MID are standard. A voice-activated navigation system with FM traffic updates is optional.