The Price Of Green: Savings At All Cost

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
the price of green savings at all cost

Gas prices are getting into the area where they affect consumers’ buying decisions. According to a new Kelley Blue Book study, more than 80 percent of car shoppers say that gas prices have influenced their buying decisions. 58 percent already have downgraded. But what about switching to diesel or hybrid instead? Be careful when you do that, says Edmunds: Choosing a green alternative can cost you a lot of green.

“Now that federal tax credits have expired, car buyers may be surprised to learn how long it takes for savings at the pump to offset the additional expense of buying a hybrid or diesel car,” says Ronald Montoya, consumer advice associate at

Some of the worst choices, says Edmund, are the BMW X5 xDrive35d (takes 25.2 years before savings kick in), the Volkswagen Jetta TDI (13.8 years) and the Nissan Altima Hybrid (10.3 years.)

To help you choose the greenest car that saves you the most green, Edmunds compiled the list of Top 10 Diesels and Hybrids With the Shortest Break-Even Periods for 2011.

Surprise, surprise, the list is monopolized by an unlikely candidate: Mercedes-Benz.

5 of the Top Ten are Daimlers. The leader of the list, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Diesel, even is $961 cheaper than the gasoline model. Buy it, and you started saving before you drove off the dealer lot.

#2 is the Lexus HS 250h Hybrid.

Lincoln lovers get a good deal with the MKZ Hybrid.

The Prius comes fourth, it takes you a little more than half a year to break even.

RankModelPremiumSavings per yearBreak-even after12011 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Diesel-$961$694-1.4 years22011 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid$85$9900.1 year32011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid$167$1,0930.2 year42011 Toyota Prius Hybrid$620$8820.7 year52011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid$1,966$1,1021.8 years62011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Diesel$1,428$6402.2 years72011 Audi A3 Diesel$1,432$6172.3 years82011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Diesel$1,433$5672.5 years92011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Diesel$1,427$5442.6 years102011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid$1,317$4762.8 years

Remember: All cars on the list are the best performers. If your green diesel or hybrid is not on the list, then you most likely won’t see any savings before the lease is up.

(I was toying with the idea of pointing out that there are no EVs on that list. But then I dropped it. I’m worried someone would brand me as an EV hater.)

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2 of 40 comments
  • Junebug Junebug on Mar 09, 2011

    I'm with Jeremy Clarkson on the Prius.

  • Dennie Edwards Jr Dennie Edwards Jr on Mar 10, 2011

    I bought a 2010 VW Golf TDI last May,before the federal tax credit expired – so that’s $1300 back in my pocket. Besides that, if you go strictly by EPA numbers, the “real world” mileage results are much higher than stated. I average consistently in the low 40′s, approx. 525 miles from a 15 gallon tank, and never dip below 35mpg in city driving. On the contrary, both Hybrid and Gasoline MPG numbers are usually a bit lower, sometimes disappointingly so, that what is reflected in the EPA numbers. I may be paying 30 cents more per gallon for diesel, but dollar-for-dollar, I’m still WAY ahead of most other gasoline cars. Otherwise, it’s not just about the fuel economy, but the driving dynamics of the whole car – 236 ft./lbs of torque with a 6-speed manual, superb ride and handling, a high level of refinement, and the versatility of a hatchback. Try and find all those characteristics in one vehicle – they are few and far between. For me, I can’t ask for much more value in a vehicle. A slight sticker price premium? Yes, but a great value nonetheless. Let’s compare apples to apples here.

  • Arthur Dailey Calling Frank Sheeran. Such a shame to see that car, which it appears was well maintained right to the end, being relegated to the crusher. Compared to what you get for $50k today, that Lincoln was not such a bad deal. As mentioned a phenomenal highway cruiser with some of the most comfortable seats every installed in a car.
  • ToolGuy Nice car. Does this company still make sedans?
  • Jimbo1126 I just looked at the Hyundai website and it appears the SE SR trim has gone away. The SE is now the base trim at $45,500.
  • Jimbo1126 Even my mother, certainly no big car fan, commented that the Mark Vi was the ugliest car she'd ever seen.38,391 in 1980 to 38,398 in 1981 is an increase of 7. :)
  • Kwik_Shift Important consideration when choosing your next vehicle. Its not only your own death, or of your passengers, but the possible lifetime of crippling injuries.