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Hybrid Hyperbole and the Dumbest Math Ever


Sometimes a little extra math is a good thing.


I hate hype. Hype of any kind. The irony, of course, is that I work in television, where there at times seems to be a never ending supply. Nonetheless, I am resolved to keep it real for all of you. Always and forever.

And that leads me to address the dozens of emails I receive every week asking me about hybrid vehicles. It seems that four bucks a gallon has got a lot of you thinking.  But when it comes to hybrids, the hype and hysteria equal some pretty sloppy math.  Indulge me.

Let's say you're shopping for a new Honda Civic. It's a great car. Especially because it gets 39 miles to the gallon.  It's also one of the most reliable cars ever built and I would buy one in a heartbeat if needed.

So, at $4.00 a gallon, it will cost  $52.80 to fill its 13.2 gallon fuel tank.  And from that full tank you'll travel 515 miles. Not bad at all.

And the price for your new Civic is, according to Honda, $15,805.00

But wait-what about hybrids?  An even better deal, right?

Time for a reality check:

The Civic Hybrid will score you 44 miles to the gallon. Which means your fill up will still cost you $52.80 but you'll go 580 miles-an additional 65 miles.

But here comes the devil in the detail:  The Civic Hybrid will cost you $24,050.00. A whopping $8245.00 MORE!'s my simple math:  for paying an extra premium of $8245.00, you can an extra 65 miles, using about  1 and ½  gallons less on each fill up.

That's a savings of about $6.00 per fill up. AM and I crazy in thinking that it will take THIRTEEN HUNDRED fill-ups just to break even?

Look. I'm no math professor. But I know a good deal when I see one. And I know a stinker when I smell one.

So, I'm begging someone with a degree in mathematics to help me out. Is my math wrong?

Oh about someone who has completed 8th grade algebra.

 Am I as insane as some say? Or am I so absolutely dead on right that you feel, well, somewhat silly for falling for the hype.

But don't feel silly. Just feel good because I'm your mechanic...and you and I always keep it real.

2012 Honda Civic                                                                        


$52.80 to fill up.      *@ $4.00 per gallon

Full tank range:  515 miles                                                        

Starting price: $15,805.00 

 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid


$52.80 to fill up.             *@ $4.00 per gallon

Full tank range:  580 miles

Doug Brauner is the Owner/Operator of The Car Czar Auto Repair Shops, as well as one of the leading automotive journalists in America. Store locations and coupons for FREE CAR REPAIR can be found at

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