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Do hybrids or diesels reign supreme? Hm. We'll take one of each

by Eric Loveday...

We recently reported on a comparison test where Autocar pitted three diesels against a gasoline-powered Alfa and the Honda CR-Z hybrid. The results showed that the diesels were the mileage champs in that test with the CR-Z placing fourth and the gas-fed Alfa in last place. Well, comments poured suggesting that the Toyota Prius would have trounced the competition, which is likely true. It was also noted that the whole test was unfair in many ways, which may be right. Fairness aside, there's several aspects that the test overlooked; mileage is not the only factor used to determine operating costs and each vehicle type has its own ups and downs.

Although the Prius would have won the mileage shoot-out, it no doubt would have placed lower in the sportiness category, a trade-off that some drivers are not willing to make. Compounding the problems with comparing two different technologies is cost. The Prius can be purchased for $23,000, whereas the majority of the diesels cost $30,000 plus. That's a significant difference that cannot be overlooked. The only diesel in the test that would compare with the price of the CR-Z or the Prius is the Golf GTD and it only beat the Honda hybrid by .2 miles per gallon. It would have been easily trumped by the Prius, a mileage king.

Then there's the cost of fuel. Here in the states, gas is relatively cheap, and hybrids make sense for some drivers from an economical standpoint. In most parts of Europe, diesel is significantly cheaper than gas one reason why diesels are big across the pond and that shows that the economically correct choice depends on where you live.

While it's difficult to suggest that one technology is better than the other without critics proving that some aspect of the argument is dead wrong, it's relatively easy to suggest that both technologies are far more efficient than the standard gasoline engine, and that's our stance on the issue. We're fans of both hybrids and diesels. Even more importantly, we are thrilled to have a choice of one or the other and can only hope that more hybrids and diesels come soon. The diesel vs. hybrid debate will continue to wage on and sides will be taken, but we openly admit we'd be happy to take one of each.