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Hybrid SUVs that carry real value

Over five years these SUVs are likely to save you thousands.

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Hybrid logic
Hybrid logic
"Hybrid SUV." It used to sound like an oxymoron, but it doesn't sound so strange as fuel prices stay high. As long as drivers want them - why not make them as fuel-efficient as possible?

But not all hybrids are going to save you money in the long run when put next to their non-hybrid counterparts.

To figure out which hybrid vehicles are indeed a better value, analysts at automotive-cost tracking Web site IntelliChoice.com conducted an exclusive study for CNNMoney.com.

They compared projected 5-year ownership costs for specific vehicles with an average of expected costs for similarly priced SUVs. Factors included fuel, depreciation, maintenance and finance costs.

IntelliChoice analysts then looked at whether specific costs measured up to their expectations and compared the difference amounts between hybrids and non-hybrids.

Say Hybrid SUV X had projected costs of $39,000 over five years. The average ownership cost of a vehicle in its class, adjusted for price, was $43,000. The hybrid beats the broad expectation by $4,000.

For the cheaper non-hybrid, projected ownership costs are $42,000 compared with the price-adjusted class average of $41,000. It misses expectations by $1,000. In the final comparison, the hybrid is the winner by $5,000.

Intellichoice compares vehicles this way, instead of just comparing costs directly, because they believe it better accounts for all the unrelated additional features that often add cost - and value - to hybrid versions.

IntelliChoice bases its calculations on the real-world costs of the vehicles, including rebates and tax incentives, to make the comparisons as realistic as possible.

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Last updated October 09 2008: 8:50 AM ET
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