Today@Sam - SHSU Campus News Online Sam Houston State University Seal
In the News
SHSU Homepage

SHSU Experts
SHSU Stats
Sam the Man
SHSU History
Austin Hall

Heritage Magazine
Huntsville Item
The Houstonian
Gov. Links
Useful Links
Theater & Dance
SHSU Athletics
Rec. Sports
Request Info
General Info
Then & Now
The President
Public Relations
Post Office
Search SHSU

Kelly Looks at Hybrid Cars

Kelly Garrison is a senior journalism major from Conroe. The opinions in this column are hers.

If you are shopping for a new car, or lucky enough to be getting one as a graduation gift, the rising gas prices are probably tempting you to consider a hybrid.

They sound almost too good to be true. According to, a Toyota Prius recently achieved 109 miles per gallon using a popular hybrid driving method called "pulse and glide." The driver accelerates to a predetermined speed, say about 40 mph and then coasts to about 30 mph, which uses a minimum amount of energy to re-charge the battery.

While this may save a few cents, or even bucks, on gas, I wouldn't recommend it on a busy freeway, from a safety standpoint.

Still, some possible hybrid owners leave the dealership when they hear how expensive it is to replace those batteries.

So, is a hybrid right for you?

First, every car handles differently and has a different price. Your needs and driving style will be different from everyone else's, so this information is meant to help you compare and decide for yourself. offers this caution about going hybrid to save gas. "The way you drive and the road conditions will play a major role in determining if you will get numbers lower or higher than the EPA numbers. If you are not willing to stop speeding, stop jackrabbit starts, and stop flooring the gas as you approach a red light, then don’t bother with a hybrid."

They added that EPA numbers for estimated gas mileage can be affected by many different things.
In order to compare cost and efficiency, I looked at a few models of hybrid and gas-powered cars' official Web sites and noted the lowest listed price for each and highest EPA certified gas mileage. Again, the listed numbers can vary from reality, especially once popular options have been added or other factors are figured in.

Many hybrid models don't seem to get much better mileage than their gas-powered counterparts. They also can cost up to $10,000 more. So, setting aside the possibility of saving money on gas by buying a hybrid, what do they have to offer?

For one thing, scheduled maintenance is less frequent.

"You're not going to really see an expense on that side," said Philip Sharp, Internet manager for Gullo Toyota in Conroe, "probably less."

The cars weren't necessarily designed to have less upkeep, Sharp said, but you should expect to keep a hybrid beyond 200,000 miles.

"The maintenance schedule is nothing like on a regular gas-burning vehicle," said Troy Garrison, service manager for Gullo Toyota. He said that oil changes are every 5-7,000 miles, costing the owner about $60-$70. Spark plugs are changed at 100,000 miles and the transmission serviced at 30-60,000 miles.

Honda salesperson "Moon" at Streater-Smith said Hondas are similarly convenient.

"You don't have to change the spark plugs until 105,000 miles on the Accord and 110,000 on the Civic," he said. "You still need to do regular oil changes. The first one is at 5,000 miles for the Accord and 7,500 with the Civic." Then it's every 3,750 and 4,000, respectively.

"I think they're excellent," he said, adding that hybrid owners can get up to a $3,500 rebate from the government and the paperwork is quick and easy to do. Battery worries are probably also a little exaggerated. Moon said the cost for parts is the same as normal cars.

A June 9 posting on does point out that Toyota and Lexus tax credits for buying a hybrid will be phasing out, possibly as soon as this fall.

Garrison said that a Toyota hybrid battery is about $3,000-$4,000 to replace.

"We do have an eight-year 80,000 mile warranty on electrical parts. That's longer than for a regular car."
He added that Streater-Smith has been selling hybrids for more than eight years and they've never replaced a battery.

Even if hybrids don't always seem to save money by the numbers, it's inevitable that gas prices will continue to go up, and technology will continue to improve. Maybe in a few years, the price of gas will justify a few thousand extra for a hybrid.

In the meantime, offers this advice, "Don’t buy a hybrid because you want to make back an investment. That will take between five and 20 years, depending on gas prices, the amount you drive, and how good of a deal you got on the car. Buy a hybrid because it’s the most fuel-efficient car on the road, because the tailpipe emissions are very low, because it’s great technology, or because they are fun to drive."

Which is why you'll probably see me behind the wheel of one. In two or three years.

Manufacturer Model *Base Price


Other Info
Honda Accord Hybrid $31,000 34 V-6, no spare
Honda Accord $18,300 34 V-6, spare, with manual trans.
Honda Civic Hybrid $22,000 51 Inline 4
Honda Civic $14,750 34 Inline 4
Honda Insight (hybrid only) $19,000 66

Inline 3,two-seater

Toyota Camry Hybrid $26,000 40 Inline 4
Toyota Camry $18,270 34 V-6 available
Toyota Prius $22,000 55  
Toyota Highlander Hybrid (SUV) $33,000 27 V-6
Toyota Highlander (SUV) $25,000 27 V-6
Ford Escape Hybrid (SUV) $26,000 36

Inline 4

Ford Escape (SUV) $20,000 29 V-6 available
Lexus RX 400 (SUV) (hybrid only) $45,000 31 V-6

*Lowest listed base price and highest EPA estimated gas mileage. These numbers will vary.


SHSU Media Contact: Kelly Garrison
June 9, 2006
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to

This page maintained by SHSU's Office of Public Relations
Director: Frank Krystyniak
Assistant Director: Julia May
Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
Located in the 115 Administration Building
Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834