AND THE WINNER IS...
First: 2005 Toyota Prius
Second: 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid
Third: 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid
Unlike most apples-to-apples comparisons, comparing the three most accessible hybrids available was a little more complicated. As an overlay onto standard comparison categories, the use and value of hybrid technology as applied to each vehicle had to be considered in each category. As a result, and based on value, powertrain, hardware, interior quality and functionality, our winner is the 2005 Toyota Prius.
First Place: 2005 Toyota Prius
It is good to be the King, especially when there are challengers that would love nothing more than to knock you off your throne.
No chance of that -- at least not now.
As a smartly-designed car, the Prius offers up a solid value, good fuel savings –- though not nearly what the EPA claims –- and wraps it in Toyota quality. For those shopping for a the best value in a hybrid, it’s still the car that delivers.
2005 Ford Escape Hybrid
As the odds-on favorite to win this competition, the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid is a landmark idea, one a whisker’s width away from being lauded as the most notable vehicle of the new decade. Some will argue that it is, but it seems that such an honor still belongs to the Prius. Still, the Escape Hybrid has a lot going for it, namely good fuel mileage, near zero emissions, and SUV convenience. However, the Ford Escape Hybrid could not match the Prius when it came to value. For a sticker price nearing $30,000, fuel economy just wasn’t good enough, and usable space wasn’t significantly more useful than that of the Prius hatchback. At close to $30,000, one also expects a more refined interior and a better ride.
2005 Honda Accord Hybrid
Well. That was fun. And while this was clearly the most popular vehicle in the test, it was also the most impractical, thanks in large part to its one critical difference: the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid is not a full hybrid, so the core benefits of buying into this technology –- great fuel economy and zero emissions –- are lost on the car. The question is, perhaps, why Honda went with a V6 powerplant for the Accord, instead of bolting an electric motor onto the Accord’s impressive four-cylinder. Top to bottom, of course, the Accord is virtually flawless, offering up a comfortable ride and an expertly calibrated driving experience. But still –- not enough usable space, no significant gas savings, and a $30,000 price tag separates hybrid shoppers from Accord shoppers, and doomed the Accord Hybrid in our test. Fast and fun may be, well, fast and fun, but it’s not at the top of the hybrid shopper’s most wanted list.