There’s a common misconception among drivers that all hybrid vehicles are sluggish, unresponsive, and generally not fun to drive from a sporting perspective. While that may be historically true, the tide is changing. The latest crop of hybrids contains a bunch of cars with plenty of ‘get up and go’ to go along with that fuel-stingy technology.
When most people think of hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius is the first model that comes to mind. Introduced to America near the turn of the century, more than a million Prius have been sold in the United States. It’s hugely popular in California and among the environmentally conscious and spendthrifts alike.
Like it or not, the Prius is the usual culprit for the slowpoke reputation of hybrids in general. Part of this can be attributed to the technology, part to the nature of many Prius drivers who take their sweet time getting up to highway speeds, in order to conserve gasoline. This common perception should not be applied to all hybrids.
A three-way 0-60 mile per hour (MPH) shootout between the 2010 Toyota Prius, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, and the Honda Insight illustrates the differences:
- 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – 8.6 seconds
- 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid – 9.8 seconds
- 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid – 11.4 seconds
A test of the Fusion Hybrid’s cousin, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid delivered a similar result of 8.7 seconds with the 2011 model. The first generation Fusion and MKZ Hybrids share a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle inline four cylinder/hybrid drivetrain.
The second generation Ford Fusion Hybrid, introduced in the 2013 model year, shares a downsized, yet more aggressive 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle inline four cylinder/hybrid drivetrain with the Ford C-MAX. In a recent test of the 2013 C-MAX, we scored a best run of 7.6 seconds in the sprint to sixty. This shatters the preconceptions of most folks that all hybrids are slow.
The C-MAX has taken plenty of flack from the press because of the inability of many drivers to hit the EPA spec of 47 miles per gallon (MPG). While there are a number of contributing factors to this issue, a large part of it can be attributed to C-MAX’s nature. All cars consume more fuel when you stomp on them and when a car has a responsive throttle, drivers just might be more apt to use it.
The 2013 Lexus GS450h takes hybrid performance to another level. In our testing, the GS450h’s 3.5-liter V6 hybrid drivetrain knocked out a 0-60 MPH time of under six seconds. That’s quite respectable, considering the sedan’s heft and that we were able to score highway mileage in the high thirties by driving conservatively.
And that’s the key … fuel efficiency and performance needn’t be mutually exclusive, as long as you learn how to drive with a Jeckle and Hyde foot. Stomp on it when necessary, light-foot it whenever practical.
Now compare that last run with that of the BMW 335d clean diesel …
The 335d delivered gobs of torque and scored even higher in our Interstate testing.
What would you rather drive?
– by Daniel Gray