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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In a recent thread it was suggested that the break-even point for the hybrid vs gas was around 35,000 miles. I knew this could not possibly be right and hypothesized that it was probably closer to 350,000 miles.

Today my curiosity got the better of me over my lunch break so I decided to investigate this a little. This is what I found...

Note: There are plenty of calculators out there that allow you to put in the vehicle cost, the fuel cost, and fuel economy and it spits out a break even point. The one I used was from: The Hybrid Vehicle Break Even Calculator - Money Economics

Assumptions:
  • I set the maintenance cost per 12,000 miles to be $400 (this was the default) and kept that number the same for both gas and hybrid. The Hybrid doesn't have any additional maintenance requirements and all of the hybrid components are warrantied for 10 years so they shouldn't add a noticeable maintenance cost. Any small maintenance cost added by the hybrid system may be negated by the fact that you should be able to get slightly more mileage out of brakes due to the regenerative braking.
  • I used the MSRP of a 2015 base hybrid compared to a 2015 premium with CVT, which are the two that are easiest to compare. The price difference between the two is $2,700. I did not compare the hybrid touring to the limited because I've always contended that the hybrid touring is a terrible deal. Suffice it to say, you will never break even on the hybrid touring.
  • I set the gas price at $3.00. It obviously varies over time and where in the world you live, but the current US national average for a gallon of regular gas as of 5/20/2015 is $2.722. A year ago today it was $3.642. Given those numbers, I think $3.00 is a good number to use for this excercise.

So lets get into the numbers. I ran a few different scenarios...

First I used the EPA combined fuel economy numbers of 31 vs 29 and got the following...
As you can see, it gave a break-even point of about 345,000 miles.



Then, instead of the EPA combined numbers, I used the all-city numbers of 30 vs 26 which would give the hybrid the best edge.
This gave a break-even point of about $150,000



Then, I looked at the numbers on Fuelly. This was a little difficult because (a) there aren't a lot of numbers for hybrids and (b) Fuelly's sorting is pretty terrible. But, using some math with the numbers that are available, I got 26.536 MPG for gas (3,752,812 miles of data) and 28.092 MPG for hybrid (257,981 miles of data). This is a difference of 1.56 MPG, but the website I was using didn't allow decimals so I used 28 and 26 (since the 1.56 is closer to 2MPG than 1).
This gave a break-even point of 289,000 miles.



So let's draw some conclusions...

The numbers from Fuelly (after a little rounding) seem to corroborate the EPA claim that the combined fuel economy difference between gas and hybrid is about 2 MPG. The absolute value of your fuel efficiency will vary based on your driving style and environment, but on average the difference is about 2 MPG. Where you fall on the spectrum will determine your individual break-even point, but it will probably fall somewhere between 275,000 and 400,000 miles (the higher your fuel economy, the less that 2 MPG matters).

The middle scenario is not technically a "best case" scenario, but it is still a meaningful metric. It shows that even if you get 4 MPG difference, which would be WELL OUTSIDE the norm, it would still take you 150,000 miles to break even. While Subarus are nice reliable vehicles, I would guess that the majority of owners are probably trading in well before that 150,000 mark.

YOU CAN BREAK EVEN, it is just hard to do. You need to live and drive in the perfect environment, and even still you need to have the car for a long time. If you live in a warm, but not too warm, climate where the engine warms up fast all year round and you don't need the AC or defroster much you'll really see a benefit. If you spend A LOT of time idling (stop-and-go or city traffic) then the hybrid would help there too. But for the vast majority of owners YOU WILL NEVER BREAK EVEN.

Is that a bad thing? It doesn't have to be. As I said at the start, the base hybrid costs $2,700 more than the premium. You won't make that $2,700 back. But, can you make back $700 or it? Sure. The EPA estimates that over 5 years the hybrid would save you $500, but that is at today's gas prices. Over 5 years, they'll probably fluctuate up and down, which is why I used $3.00 for gas in the above tests.

So lets say you have the car for 6ish years and save $700 in gas (totally reasonable). Then the upgrade to the hybrid was a $2,000 upgrade. It has been discussed all over these forums that the hybrid has a lot more going for it than just marginal gas mileage improvements. On top of the modest fuel efficiency savings, you get a slight power/torque bump, improved handling**, better sound isolation, and a bunch of standard features that you'd either have to pay extra for or aren't available at all on a Premium model (things like Keyless Entry, Push-button Start, Automatic Climate Control, Auto on/off headlights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift boot, Folding Rear Seat armrest w/ cupholders, color LED instrument panel, turn signals on side mirrors, etc.). Also, it comes with some other bonuses that you can't get on Premium or Limited... Green color (if you're into that), different rims (personal preference, but I love them), chrome door handles, LED tail lights, aerodynamic black spoiler, and a nicer multifunction display. To me, all of the above are worth that $2,000.

**Note on the "improved handling" comment: Due to the extra weight in the rear, one of the things they did to improve the handling was to stiffen things up back there. I don't know if that is larger rear sway bar, beefier springs, etc. but whatever it is, there is an additional benefit beyond simply handling... I've seen multiple posts on this website where people with hitch-mounted bike racks are saying that they cause the rear of the car to sag. I've also seen a couple posts from people saying that that is not the case on the hybrid. I didn't know about this when I bought my hybrid, but as someone who is in the market for a hitch-mounted bike rack, this now seems like another nice discriminator.

Don't get me wrong. The hybrid is not for everyone. For some, maybe the above benefits aren't worth $2,000. Maybe they are worth it, but you just can't get past the lack of a spare tire. Or maybe you want/need the ability to tow (the hybrid is not rated for towing). All perfectly understandable. There are plenty of reasons why someone might not want a hybrid.

One final point... Don't buy the Hybrid Touring. Just don't. It is priced wrong. It costs $3,300 more than the base hybrid and all that buys you is leather seats, moonroof, and an upgraded head unit. If you want those things, just buy the limited - it only costs $1,200 more than the base hybrid. You could add back in that $500-700 fuel savings that you lose going back to gas and still not be close to that $3,300. If you absolutely must have leather seats and a moonroof and still want the hybrid then just understand that at an upgrade cost of $4,500 compared to the Limited, you are just throwing away thousands of dollars. Maybe you really like the green and it's worth those thousands of dollars... OK. But if you get a hybrid touring in any color other than green, what did you pay for? You could get the Limited in that color and save $4,500.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Note that the above is not an attempt to sell people on the hybrid.

My goal is to point out to potential hybrid buyers, and current hybrid owners, that you should not be expecting to make your money back on the hybrid. A LOT have people have pointed this out all across these forms but I still see people saying things like "I don't drive enough miles for the hybrid to be worth it for me." That is not the point!

When considering hybrid vs gas, and deciding whether or not the $2,700 is worth it, you should not be judging entirely on fuel efficiency. It's just the wrong way to look at things. Decide how much the fuel efficiency will subsidize that $2,700, and then determine whether or not the remaining cost is worth the OTHER hybrid benefits.

That is all. :)
 

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Great post! Thanks for pulling all of that info together.

And completely agreed: until Subaru's hybrid tech changes substantially, the only way it makes sense is to evaluate the hybrid as a performance/appearance option package, rather than as a long-term money saver. When viewed that way, it definitely wouldn't be an unattractive proposition for many people.
 

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I've repeatedly said that Subaru's marketing dept FAILED this vehicle. It's a great car, but folks see "hybrid" and expect prius-like numbers, or they immediately become disappointed when they calculate "break-even".

While technically it is a hybrid, by not clarifying its limitations it has only added to the criticism from those who use environmentalism as a punchline.
 

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I've repeatedly said that Subaru's marketing dept FAILED this vehicle. It's a great car, but folks see "hybrid" and expect prius-like numbers, or they immediately become disappointed when they calculate "break-even".

While technically it is a hybrid, by not clarifying its limitations it has only added to the criticism from those who use environmentalism as a punchline.
I bought the hybrid to support the new technology. The tech will be refined as time passes. Tesla has shown the performance advantages. My next car will also be a Subaru hybrid. If the price is high, I'll buy a end of model year again.
 

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If Instead of base price you can use amount after finance charge
in my case was only $480 more for hybrid
so at 2mpg Hybrid Break-Even Point is now at 75-80K mile for me

also Hybrid resale for next 5-7 years is likely to be 1500-2500 more
so in 3 years (75K mi) not only I Break-Even but also save $1500 or more if I trade-in/sale the car
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If Instead of base price you can use amount after finance charge
in my case was only $480 more for hybrid
so at 2mpg Hybrid Break-Even Point is now at 75-80K mile for me
Yes, that definitely changes things.

Right now the financing deals for the hybrid are almost the same as gas though...
Crosstrek 1.49% 24-36-48 mos, 1.90% 60-63-72 months
Crosstrek Hybrid 0% 36 mos, 1.49 48 mos, 1.90%x60-63-72 months

The only difference is at 36 months, and 1.5% over 36 months doesn't amount to a ton. If you hypothetically add 10% to the base price of the premium to account for TTL, 1.5% over 36 months equates to a finance charge of less than $600. Obviously, that's nothing to sneeze at, but not quite the deal you got. In this hypothetical, the hybrid still costs more than $2100 more than gas.

But your point is well taken. For these numbers to really be accurate, you would have to go through and personalize with the REAL TOTAL price, as well as the fuel efficiency that you are actually getting.

also Hybrid resale for next 5-7 years is likely to be 1500-2500 more
Source?
 

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Yes, that definitely changes things.

Right now the financing deals for the hybrid are almost the same as gas though...
Crosstrek 1.49% 24-36-48 mos, 1.90% 60-63-72 months
Crosstrek Hybrid 0% 36 mos, 1.49 48 mos, 1.90%x60-63-72 months

The only difference is at 36 months, and 1.5% over 36 months doesn't amount to a ton. If you hypothetically add 10% to the base price of the premium to account for TTL, 1.5% over 36 months equates to a finance charge of less than $600. Obviously, that's nothing to sneeze at, but not quite the deal you got. In this hypothetical, the hybrid still costs more than $2100 more than gas.

But your point is well taken. For these numbers to really be accurate, you would have to go through and personalize with the REAL TOTAL price, as well as the fuel efficiency that you are actually getting.


Source?
0% financing is available in hybrids in my area.
image.jpg
 

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The resale value of the hybrid is something of an unknown at this point, I think. Not saying it will happen, but if Subaru releases a substantially upgraded hybrid model in the next couple of years, that could actually lessen the value of cars with the first-generation hybrid tech.

All in all, though, I think we can all just take comfort in the fact that pretty much all Subarus retain their value extremely well!
 

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"Breaking even" was not a consideration for me after test driving a couple of gas only XVs, and then a hybrid version. The XV hybrid was a perfect fit for my driving needs. In nice weather, during my 27-35 minute commute the hybrid spends 4-7 minutes in EV mode without much effort. In nice weather, I see 38-40 mpg per trip without thinking about driving technique. It's the short, errand style, trips that keep me down at an average of 34-36mpg at fill up. Ten months, eight thousand miles, and the worst New England winter in my lifetime later, and I am still glad that I chose the XV hybrid. It's lots of fun, and gets the job(that I ask of it) done...10 mpg better than my last (front wheel drive)vehicle.

Sooooo....whatever fits... If my commuting needs were more highway oriented, would I have opted for the gas only XV?... Maybe, but the hybrid did/does "feel" a tiny bit sportier to me..."whatever" about breaking even.
 

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Great research and thanks for posting.


I agree about the touring. Way too expensive. But folks buy them up with the quickness.

The 2014 hybrid had a lot of improvements over the 2013 base CVT.

In 2015 the gas model closed the gap a little.

2016 will be interesting to look over.
 

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I agree with you that the Subaru hybrid system isn't economical, but I think your point on hybrid touring is unfair. The hybrid tutoring does come with moon roof+navigation+push button start, which is a $2000 dollar upgrade option on the limited. Yes, all these are non-essential features but the tutoring model is not priced wrong.

Also Subaru Japan just released their second hybrid car, the 2016 Impreza Sport Hybrid, which will be available in Japan this summer. The hybrid system is identical to the one on XV but at least this time they are marketing on the "sport" side.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I agree with you that the Subaru hybrid system isn't economical, but I think your point on hybrid touring is unfair. The hybrid tutoring does come with moon roof+navigation+push button start, which is a $2000 dollar upgrade option on the limited. Yes, all these are non-essential features but the tutoring model is not priced wrong.

Also Subaru Japan just released their second hybrid car, the 2016 Impreza Sport Hybrid, which will be available in Japan this summer. The hybrid system is identical to the one on XV but at least this time they are marketing on the "sport" side.
True. The price of the touring compared to the limited isn't as bad of a deal as I thought... I forgot that those options were 2k. The price to upgrade to the touring from the base hybrid is still too much for what you get though.
 

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True. The price of the touring compared to the limited isn't as bad of a deal as I thought... I forgot that those options were 2k. The price to upgrade to the touring from the base hybrid is still too much for what you get though.
I agree. Aftermarket or used OEM nav is around $500 and aftermarket leather can be install by the dealer for $1200. I have heard the aftermarket leather feels better than the Subaru leather trim seats.The $3,300 mark up for the touring would make the sunroof a $1600 option. My base hybrid has push button start. It maybe worth $3,300 difference if the touring had eyesight standard, leather arm rest, the full H-K system with upgraded speakers and sub.
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Discussion Starter #17
It maybe worth $3,300 difference if the touring had eyesight standard, leather arm rest, the full H-K system with upgraded speakers and sub
Yea if it had all that I would've been all over the touring. Kinda silly that you can't get eyesight when it's available on the hybrids in Japan.
 

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One other thing about the hybrid is, IF you live in an area (Northern VA) you can get tags that let you drive in the HOV lanes. Saves me about a hour a day. I would drive a car that ran on the tears of baby eagles to get an extra hour at home. :tongue:
 

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One other thing about the hybrid is, IF you live in an area (Northern VA) you can get tags that let you drive in the HOV lanes. Saves me about a hour a day. I would drive a car that ran on the tears of baby eagles to get an extra hour at home. :tongue:
Nice to know for people in that area.
 
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