Hybrid debate is not about cost

Kelly Mills

With less than a year until I graduate, I’m starting to set my sights on what I want to do, where I want to live and what I want to drive.

The last item on that list, what I want to drive, has become very important. It’s one of the few things I can start to research now since I won’t be able to apply for jobs until next April.

I drive a 2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport. She’s a little beat up, but she’s my baby. I got her used and whoever had her before me REALLY used her.

Since I got the car in 2002, I’ve been hearing the constant stream of “Why do you drive an SUV?” A few reasons behind that question include gas prices, the environment and the vehicle’s cost.

Truth is, I like the security I have in a larger vehicle with four-wheel drive. I don’t drive erratically, so I don’t have to worry about flipping. That’s not an issue.

Now that I’m considering getting a new car when I graduate, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the SUV question brought up. I’m often told that with the price of gas, I should buy a hybrid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to find a cheaper, cleaner and more efficient way to fuel a car, but a hybrid certainly doesn’t fit into the “cheaper” category.

Edmunds.com touts itself as the place “where smart car buyers start.” The Web site recently studied hybrid models and their comparable non-hybrid counterparts. The Ford Escape, Honda Accord and Honda Civic are all made in both hybrid and non-hybrid models. The Toyota Prius was compared to the Toyota Corolla.

The study calculated the “true market value” price of the cars plus the complete ownership costs (interest, taxes, fees, insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance and repairs) over a five-year period.

The Escape hybrid costs $3,429 more than the non-hybrid. That’s the smallest difference. Also, remember that an Escape is an SUV.

The Corolla, however, showed the largest difference costing $5,283 less to own over five years than the Prius.

I could pay one year of rent on an apartment for that.

I commend anyone who is environmentally conscious enough to make the investment in the more expensive car to help reduce pollution. Kudos to you. I’m simply an SUV kind of girl. I like the way they feel and the way they drive. That doesn’t mean I won’t consider buying a hybrid coupe or sedan in the future to conserve fuel and money, but the way the costs figure right now, I’m just not willing to spring for a hybrid.

I understand the pollution that a car can put out, let alone many SUVs. Fighting for the environment is admirable, but just don’t drag cost into it.

That said, I must interject that my “gas hog” gets 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 highway. Because it’s a small SUV, it’s really not THAT bad.

Kelly Mills is a senior news major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].