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8 Hybrid Vehicles you Should not Buy

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Starting with a warning-like title, let’s define hybrid cars—a vehicle utilizing two or more power sources.

So, what defines hybrid cars?

Hybrids use distinct power types, like submarines using diesel surfaced and batteries submerged. Energy storage includes pressurized fluid in hydraulic hybrids.

The world’s first mass-produced hybrid, Toyota Prius NHW10 (1997–2000).

Hybrid powertrains switch sources for optimal fuel and energy efficiency. In hybrid electric vehicles, electric motors excel in torque, while combustion engines maintain high speed. Key benefits include enhanced efficiency, reduced emissions, and lower running costs compared to non-hybrids.

Not all hybrid cars are equal. Some excel in fuel efficiency, reliability, and performance, while others lag behind. With numerous options, distinguishing the superior from the less impressive is challenging.

This article covers eight models. Despite their eco-friendly allure, these vehicles showcase various issues that potential buyers should be mindful of.

Ford Fiesta Hybrid Car

The Ford Fiesta Hybrid, especially models produced from 2011 to 2015, faces challenges related to its dual-clutch automatic transmissions. According to Joe Giranda, CFR Classic’s Director of Sales and Marketing, owners reported shuddering, jerky performance, and unreliable transmission operation. These issues stem from the complexities of the hybrid powertrain interacting with the less refined dual-clutch system in earlier models.

In addition to transmission concerns, the Ford Fiesta has experienced recalls, addressing problems in the fuel system and door latches. Notably, some recalls relate to doors unexpectedly opening while driving, adding an additional layer of safety concern for potential buyers.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid model, praised for its fuel efficiency, is not without notable issues. A recurring concern reported by owners revolves around the SUV’s transmission. Instances of rough and abrupt shifting have been commonly cited, with some owners even resorting to rebuilding or replacing the entire transmission. Despite its fuel economy, prospective buyers should weigh these reported transmission issues when considering the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid.

2014 & 2015 Nissan Pathfinder HEV

The 2014 and 2015 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid models encountered notable issues, as highlighted by Joe Giranda. Problems with the braking systems and electrical issues were prevalent during these years. Owners reported less responsive brakes, posing a significant safety concern. Furthermore, common electrical glitches affected the infotainment and navigation systems, compromising the overall reliability of the vehicle. Prospective buyers should be cautious about these reported issues when considering the 2014 and 2015 Nissan Pathfinder HEV.

Beyond the previously mentioned issues, owners of the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid have reported additional common problems. These include shuddering and vibration during shifting, raising concerns about the vehicle’s smooth operation. Moreover, there have been reports of the vehicle failing to accelerate after a panic stop, presenting potential safety implications. Prospective buyers should take into account these reported problems when assessing the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid model.

2011-2015 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Despite its appealing speed, this hybrid faced severe recalls, revealing a troubling tradeoff. A critical issue involved inadequate drainage under the battery, leading to short circuits and, in some instances, fires. VWProblems notes that water ingress occurred due to incorrectly assembled sunroof drains and rear lid seals, even without the rear hatch open.

Furthermore, recalls addressed a missing clip for the brake pedal pivot pin, risking detachment, and a fuel injection system leak. These recalls highlight safety concerns, urging potential buyers to carefully consider the tradeoffs associated with this hybrid.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Being the sole plug-in hybrid minivan available, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, while practical with an above-average EV range, faces multiple recalls and hybrid battery issues. Owners commonly report concerns regarding the electrical system—a notable worry given the hybrid nature of the vehicle. Prospective buyers should carefully weigh these reported concerns against the practicality and EV capabilities when considering the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

Despite adoration for the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu’s spacious interior and fuel economy, owners have reported engine failures and fuel sensor problems. Concerns extend to issues causing reduced power, posing potential dangers on the road.

Moreover, six recalls, including one for leaking transmission fluid, underscore reliability challenges with the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu. While positive reviews exist, the overall consensus suggests prospective buyers should carefully consider the reported reliability issues associated with this vehicle.

2017 BMW X5 Hybrid

The 2017 BMW X5 hybrid, renowned for its luxury and strong performance, features a lavish cabin and favorable reviews on Edmunds praising its comfortable ride and sporty handling. Despite these attributes, owners have reported concerns with the brakes, including pulsation or vibration. Additionally, issues with the antilock system and calipers, manifesting as squeaking and brake failure, have been reported. Prospective buyers should consider these reported brake-related issues when evaluating the overall appeal of the 2017 BMW X5 hybrid.

Volvo XC 90

The Volvo XC90 exudes understated luxury, seamlessly blending exterior and interior design elements. This three-row SUV features a 2-3-2 seating layout, impressing with interior luxury, seat comfort, and ergonomic design. However, areas where it falls short include fuel consumption and slightly elevated levels of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).

Pros of Buying a Hybrid Car

Prospective hybrid car buyers often lean towards environmental considerations, aiming for a reduced carbon footprint. Now, let’s delve into the actual impact of Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) on the environment.

1. Lower Environmental Impact

Hybrid cars, often hailed as a “green option,” present several environmental advantages compared to traditional gas-powered cars:

  • Lower CO2 Emissions:
  • Tailpipe emissions are reduced, contributing to a diminished carbon footprint.
  • Fewer Other Pollutants:
  • Reduced emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases compared to standard cars.
  • Greater Fuel Efficiency:
  • Electric power sources decrease the need for fuel, generally enhancing overall fuel efficiency.
  • Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels:
  • Hybrid cars incorporate a high-voltage battery, electric engine, and regenerative braking technology.
  • This design minimizes reliance on fossil fuels, unlike standard gas cars.

Note: Dependence on fossil fuels varies by location, as electricity sources differ from state to state.

2. Fewer Maintenance Requirements

The diminished wear and tear on a hybrid car’s combustion engine often translate to reduced maintenance needs and fewer costly repairs compared to standard vehicles. While this suggests potential savings, it’s crucial to note that lower maintenance costs are not guaranteed, considering various factors beyond engine issues that can impact overall vehicle maintenance.

3. Lower Running Costs

  • More electric-based mileage and higher-efficiency engines result in fewer visits to the gas station, translating to cost savings.
  • Monthly savings depend on driving habits, model choice, and location, but most drivers can anticipate reduced expenses.

4. Favorable Tax Incentives

  • The federal government provides a favorable tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), reaching up to $7,500 based on the car model and your tax status.
  • State and local incentives may also apply, contributing to potential cost savings.

5. Higher Potential Resale Value

  • Growing popularity of hybrid cars, driven by recent increases in gasoline prices, boosts interest in fuel-efficient alternatives.
  • With high demand for Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), a decent resale value is anticipated, assuming current trends persist.

6. Less Stress

  • Despite daily additions of charging stations in the US, pure Electric Vehicle (EV) drivers harbor concerns about running out of charge.
  • Hybrid car drivers experience less anxiety due to the standard combustion engine serving as a backup.

7. Quiet Driving Experience

  • Hybrid cars offer a quiet driving experience as electric motors run more silently than traditional gas-powered engines.
  • While appealing to most, concerns exist about safety issues with almost-silent cars, particularly at low speeds.

Cons of Driving a Hybrid Car

  1. Higher Upfront Costs
  • Initial purchase or lease costs may exceed those of standard vehicles.
  • While reducing, the manufacturing price difference persists.
  • Tax incentives and lower running/maintenance costs can offset these initial expenses.
  1. High Repair Costs
  • The high-voltage system in hybrid cars may lead to more expensive repairs.
  • High-voltage batteries, though often lasting over 150,000 miles, can be costly to replace.
  • Complexity in repairs, involving inverters, electric motors, and improved cooling systems, may require specialized knowledge.
  1. Higher Insurance Costs
  • Hybrid cars may incur higher insurance costs, averaging seven percent more than standard gas versions.
  • Fuel savings might be balanced by increased insurance expenses due to perceived higher risk for drivers covering long distances.
  1. Slower Acceleration
  • Hybrid vehicles generally exhibit slower top-end acceleration compared to traditional models.
  1. Fossil Fuel Dependence
  • Despite using fewer fossil fuels, hybrid cars still maintain some level of dependence.
  • Electric vehicles eliminate direct fossil fuel consumption but may indirectly use fossil fuels based on the electricity source.

Who are Hybrid Car for?

Hybrid cars are ideal for individuals who work and travel considerable distances each week, covering hundreds of miles. Those who prioritize fuel economy and lower running costs over high-power performance and acceleration will find hybrid cars particularly appealing. Additionally, individuals seeking an environmentally friendly option with the potential for tax credits and a higher resale value are well-suited for hybrid cars.

However, it’s crucial to consider a few factors. Upfront and maintenance costs for hybrid cars may be higher compared to standard vehicles. While hybrid cars contribute to reducing fossil fuel usage, they still entail some reliance on these resources. For individuals aiming to completely eliminate direct fossil fuel consumption, choosing an electric vehicle rather than a hybrid may be a more suitable option.

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Christian Maximilian
Christian Maximilian

I am a Software Engineer, technical writer, and overall tech enthusiast. For me, utilizing my skills as a Software Engineer to perform Technical Search Engine Optimization is not just a job, but something I gladly incorporate into my pastimes as well, and I have been doing this for over 3 years.

When I'm not coding or writing technical documentation, I enjoy listening to music and exploring new genres.

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