Most people who own a hybrid car or SUV switch back to gas-only vehicles when it’s time to buy a new vehicle, according to a new study by Polk, a company that provides auto information and data. The study found that just 35 percent of all hybrid owners buy another hybrid. After excluding Toyota Prius owners, that number drops to about 22 percent.

Gas prices continue to soar, with today’s average gallon of regular gas selling for $3.93, which is about 14 cents more than a month ago, according to AAA. But that doesn’t send new-car shoppers running toward a hybrid. In fact, Automotive News reports that hybrid sales accounted for just 2.4 percent of the all U.S. auto sales last year. So why aren’t hybrids the natural alternative to combat rising fuel costs?

Most analysts say it’s because the price premium that accompanies most hybrid models outweighs the benefits of using less gas. “Except for two hybrids, the Prius and Lincoln MKZ, and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the added cost of the fuel-efficient technologies is so high that it would take the average driver many years — in some cases more than a decade — to save money over comparable new models with conventional internal-combustion engines,” reports The New York Times.

If you’re considering buying a new hybrid, either as a first-time owner or to replace your old hybrid, you may want to consider other options, like super fuel-efficient “eco” packages or a diesel engine. For instance, the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid costs $61,995, which is about $3,400 more than a comparably-equipped Touareg TDI Executive. However, you’ll only save about $200 per year by opting for the hybrid instead of the diesel model, according to the EPA. That means it would take 17 years to make up for the hybrid’s extra cost over the diesel’s price in fuel savings. The hybrid’s extra cost just isn’t worth it for most people when compared with the fuel-efficient diesel model.  So, when you’re shopping for a new, more fuel-efficient car, make sure that you explore all the different types of options. Crunching the numbers will help you make sure you’re making the best choice for your budget and lifestyle.

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