Gas, Diesel or Hybrid – Is There One That’s Best?

Justin Christensen |

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There are many things to consider when purchasing a vehicle today. Of course, there are always new features and options, but between the economy and the environment, it seems efficiency is what’s topping many people’s lists.

Gas, diesel and hybrid are three mainstream choices, but which is best?

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Gasoline

This fuel is great for low mileage drivers and continues to gain efficiency on the road – a number of vehicles on The Best of 2014 list on greenerscars.org run on gasoline. When it comes to engines, they are less expensive to maintain, run more quietly and produce more horsepower. Gasoline is also cleaner burning than diesel. As for the vehicles, there are more models to choose from and their starting price points are lower than those of diesel or hybrids.

On the flip side, the price of gasoline doesn’t seem to be getting any lower. Lighter engines typically don’t last as long as workhorse styles like diesel and maximizing fuel efficiency tends to mean sticking with smaller and more lightweight vehicles.

Diesel

This energy-dense fuel makes it one of the most efficient available and best suited for drivers who put in high miles on the highway. Because diesel engines are designed to endure higher compression, they tend to last longer before needing major repairs and hold better value after five years. Also, the way diesel is burned gives more torque to the driveshaft, so cars are quite speedy and trucks, SUVs and cars have great towing power.

Sound perfect? Well, the price of diesel has risen and can cost the same or more than regular gasoline. With more advanced technology, repairing diesel engines can be a little more involved and therefore more pricey as well. You may also have to layout more cash to make the initial purchase.

Hybrid

High mileage in big city congestion is the ideal environment for hybrids with a gas/electric mode of power. In most cases, they are exceptionally efficient for fuel economy. The vehicles tend to be larger and sturdier, which bumps them up in crash-safety ratings., and some versions retain as much as 45 per cent of their value after a five-year period.

But the grass isn’t always greener. Hybrids are more expensive to start and the dual technology likely means a specialized dealer as opposed to a regular mechanic for maintenance and repairs. Battery packs run about $3,000 to replace and how that will change down the road is unknown—plus what will we do with them?

Other Fuel For Thought

The type of engine you select will ultimately depend on the sort of driving you do and how much mileage you rack up. In terms of economy, it helps to consider your overall cost per year as opposed to miles per gallon as efficiency can be lost if prices rise.

Also, keep in mind that fuel economy government ratings are established in a controlled environment and don’t take into consideration driving habits, weather, terrain and vehicle condition—all of which affect efficiency.

Perhaps the best news is that no matter which of these vehicles you choose, your fuel distributor will be there to keep you on the road with the best products at the best prices, both now and into the future. The 2014 Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration indicates that gasoline, diesel and E85 will remain the dominant energy sources for transportation through 2040.