Lexus HS 250h
Lexus HS 250h

Consumer Reports compared the Lexus HS 250h gas-electric hybrid against Acura's TSX base model with a four-cylinder engine. The Acura gets 25 miles per gallon, the Lexus 31 miles per gallon. But the Lexus costs just under $40,000 to buy and $44,500 to operate for five years; the Acura costs about $30,700 and $41,000 to operate. Given the fairly narrow advantage the Lexus has in terms of fuel economy, an owner would have to keep the Lexus for more than eight years to overcome the cost disadvantage. If gasoline were to rise to more than $11.50 a gallon -- a dreadful thought, everyone can agree -- the payback period shrinks to one year.

By Doron Levin @FortuneMagazine - Last updated April 24 2012: 2:48 PM ET
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