Hybrid Minivan Availability In The Marketplace

By: Dean Forster

With all the styles of cars coming out in hybrid versions, choices in hybrid minivan are still in short supply. One has to wonder why the automakers are focused on making sedans, SUVs and the like, but not minivans. These modern versions of the old station wagons are a practical mainstay for growing families, with their storage space and ample seating options.

Toyota was rumored to be releasing a hybrid version of its Sienna minivan in 2008, but it does not seem to be available yet. They have released a hybrid Estima, a smaller minivan than the Sienna, in Japan only. In fact, they made the first Estima hybrid way back in 2001, then completely redesigned it in 2007. Hopefully one of these vehicles will hit the North American market within a few years.

The Estima available in Japan has seating for eight passengers, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds. It is reported to be comfortable and have roomy storage, as well as being a reliable vehicle.

The newer ones have a high output, high efficiency, four-cylinder, 2.4 liter engine.

Toyota has led the way in hybrid vehicles, with the Prius car being the most economical hybrid vehicle available in North America. They also have the Camry, a bit roomier car, and the Highlander, a sport utility vehicle, available in hybrid.

So as of right now, the US minivan buyer has a choice between an economical non-hybrid minivan or a small SUV. The best gas mileage you can get with a minivan is the Mazda 5, which has a rating of 22 mpg in the city and 28 miles per gallon for highway driving. These figures are for the model with standard 5-speed manual transmission and a four cylinder engine. Prices start at $17,995 for this six passenger family vehicle.

Contrast that to the Ford Escape Hybrid, which seats five, but gets 34 miles to the gallon in the city and 30 on the highway. If you do mostly highway driving, you could get by just about as well with the non-hybrid Mazda. Of course, there may be tax incentives for buying a hybrid, but the starting price is a lot more, at about $26,000. Learn more at http://www.gasmileageimprove.com

Hybrids are tempting, but remember that they really are more helpful for those who live in the city than for those who live in the country, at least for the time being. Country families are still better off with a small minivan like the Mazda 5. Almost all other minivans get about 16 miles to the gallon in town and 23 miles to the gallon on the highway. Other flex fuel minivans are available that can burn ethanol. Among these is the Chevy Uplander.

It seems amazing that of all classes of vehicleFree Reprint Articles, minivans are the last to emerge on the North American scene as hybrids. Hopefully the automakers will get on the ball and provide the hybrid minivans that everyone is waiting for before much longer.

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